Letters to editor
Sound Consumer | November 2008

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Edmonds fan mail

With great anticipation I’ve looked forward to the opening of the PCC in Edmonds. My husband and I just stopped in to check it out and grab groceries and lunch. WOW WOW AND WOW!!!! You hit a home run! It’s absolutely beautiful and so well laid out. You have it all — healthy produce and, most important, my Kalani coffee — and it’s just so beautiful with some wonderful people working there.

Anyway, just wanted to say “Great job! And I know it will be a huge success! Thanks to whoever discovered this location for the newest PCC! You were smart!  Your happiest and most appreciative customer,
— Judy Clark


Aerial spraying of pesticide

Thanks for the coverage about aerial spraying of the Checkmate pesticide in California (October letters, Spraying for the apple moth and organic status). I actually relocated from San Francisco to Kirkland in May 2008 because the governor of California planned to spray all cities in the Bay area starting in August for five to 10 years.

When I researched the untested chemical complex that they wanted to use on the population I decided to leave California and I started shopping at PCC in June 2008.

I have not been buying organic food from California ever since because I concluded that if the government could spray the population with 10 untested chemicals, the farms were going to be very ugly and labeling food from those farms “organic” made no more sense for me. I am happy that PCC is aware of all these dangers in the food chain.
— Mak Foka, Kirkland


Sweeteners in the diet

I’m hesitant to address the issue of sweeteners — we’re so addicted (try eliminating white flour, white rice, sugar, honey, fruit and juices). We’ve been weaned on things sweet for generations; even our health food consists of fruits and vegetables high in natural sugars, carrots and apples being two of the highest.

Dieticians warn of plummeting blood sugar levels that follow sweets and refined flour, though the resulting fatigue can be masked by fat (donuts) and caffeine. Foods that make it in the marketplace are those that temporarily satisfy and then create a hunger for more of the same product.

I always thought being famished was normal until I discovered increased, sustained energy from protein and slow carbs (whole grains, leafy greens). Granted, I can be unaware of low blood sugar levels if I’m not exercising but with a physical job (native plant gardening) and using a bicycle for transportation, I know when I haven’t carbo-loaded well.

For many of us who are “hypoglycemic,” it’s increasingly frustrating trying to find unsweetened foods — even at PCC. I’ve learned to read ingredient labels carefully, finding most deli items have refined-flour noodles, “organic crystallized cane juice” or raisins, and the only bread dependably available without sweeteners or “organic unbleached wheat flour” (white flour) comes from Minnesota — hardly sustainable.

I appreciate PCC, but I hope for healthier, heartier food. Thanks.
— Steve Richmond, West Seattle

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I’m writing to you from the Midwest so I am not a customer. But, wow, would I like to be! I read online that your stores have banned high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

I have a 5-year-old son who exhibits various behavioral problems after consuming HFCS. Before I discovered what was causing them, he might have ketchup, dressing, chips, bread, lunch meat or any number of foods containing various amounts of HFCS. A little bit means he gets hyper. A lot means he might go into a screaming rage.

Additionally, I’m concerned that the corn used to manufacture corn syrup may be genetically modified. Thus far, GM foods don’t appear to save money and haven’t been proven safe. While sugar is no health food, I much prefer it. Kudos to you!
— Michelle Sanders, Southern Indiana


Beef Northwest labor issues

I continue to hear from the United Farm Workers (UFW) about bad things happening at Beef Northwest, which is the feedlot for Country Natural Beef. I would like PCC to look into this.

It’s understandable that Whole Foods doesn’t care about union representation; after all, it’s a rabidly anti-union company. PCC, however, is different. I hope you guys will look into this. Thanks for taking the time to think about this.
— Josh Hayes, PCC member

Editor replies: Several of us at PCC have been engaged over the past year with various parties involved in this labor dispute — including the UFW, Beef Northwest, Country Natural Beef, and intermediaries, such as Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon — meeting, calling, discussing the issues, and urging a resolution.

One problem is that agricultural workers are exempt from provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, which ensures binding arbitration. Also, it may seem like a simple solution to drop Country Natural Beef (even though the labor dispute is entirely with the Beef Northwest feedlot) and sell another brand not involved in labor complaints, but the closest regional substitute (no artificial hormones or antibiotics, from a regional ranching cooperative) is finished in a feedlot owned by a company infamous for its history of labor complaints and lawsuits, reports of inhumane slaughter conditions, and for allowing animal waste to pollute waterways — which leads us to the second key problem: consolidation and concentration in the livestock industry.

Independent ranchers have little leverage and often no choice in who they sell their livestock to and at what price. This is why we’ve petitioned lawmakers to address concentration and consolidation in the meat industry and enforce antitrust laws. We also advocated binding arbitration be extended to farm workers in our Future of Farming recommendations to the Washington state legislature (it rejected a proposal in 2006). California passed such a bill in 2002 — the first of its kind in the United States.


Slaughter

I have long wondered how organic animals are treated while being shipped to slaughter facilities and while at those facilities. I don’t eat much meat but on the rare occasion that I do, it generally is organic and I hope it lived a better life than most animals bred for meat.

I’m also selective about what brands of organic meat I choose since some may meet the letter of the law but fail to meat the spirit of the law (e.g., organic chickens that never leave the shed to enjoy their “free range” privileges). But it’s been very difficult to find out anything about how organic animals are slaughtered.

Is this something the Sound Consumer could investigate, especially in regards to the organic meats PCC carries? Do the suppliers use slaughter facilities where the animals are ensured a humane slaughter? Although this may seem an oxymoron, these animals at the very least should not endure inhumane circumstances before their death, and the death could be made quick and (almost) painless.

I know that nonorganic pigs usually are slaughtered using a machine that grabs a hoof and hangs them upside down before their throats are slit. This has to be a terrifying and painful experience for them — there must be better alternatives (albeit perhaps not as cheap for the slaughterhouse).

Also, at the slaughter facility, are there adequate observers ensuring the animals are treated well? This is timely given the exposé of the situation in one randomly selected, non-organic slaughter facility in California. I believe this would be a topic of great interest to PCC shoppers and perhaps PCC could work with suppliers to improve this aspect of the animals’ lives. Thank you.
— Maria Knudsen

PCC meat merchandiser Roger Wood replies: PCC buys beef, pork, chicken and lamb from farmers and ranchers who are either certified organic or Food Alliance certified. Both certifications call for third-party verification of the humane treatment of animals over their full life cycle. Farmers and ranchers who participate in these programs have chosen voluntarily to participate in and follow the values of these programs.

In addition, PCC has a policy of not only visiting the ranches and/or farms where animals are raised but also the plants where they’re processed. The initial visit is conducted before we begin any business relationship and continues thereafter as we deem necessary. This is done so we can best assure ourselves and you that no inhumane treatment of animals occurs at either the ranch/farm or the processing plant.


Fluoride

My wife and I are in our 60s and having been raised on non-fluoridated water have cheek-to-cheek fillings, whereas my children, raised on fluoridated water and currently in their 30s, are virtually free of dental caries. Such a change within one generation has to be a remarkable public health success.

The EPA’s Allowable Limit for fluoride in drinking water is 4 ppm. However, the usual level for fluoridation of community water sources is only 1 ppm. The latest Drinking Water Quality Report from the Seattle Public Utilities indicates that the range of fluoride in our water is 0.8 to 1.1 ppm. Thus, munici-palities have a much lower level that has no adverse effects, such as discoloration and pitting of tooth enamel, weakening of bones, and increased risk of bone fractures, but serves as effective anti-caries prevention.
— Ron DiGiacomo

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It’s appropriate to reduce bottled-water whenever we’re assured of toxics-free tapwater. True, many bottled waters aren’t toxics-free. However, fluoridated water definitely isn’t toxics-free! The most common “fluoridation agents” are toxic industrial wastes, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and radioactives. Also, the “recommended level” for fluoride in water supplies is calculated without regard to other cumulative sources of exposure (including dried eggs and toothpaste).

I didn’t want to learn about fluoride. It’s too prevalent, too much work to avoid, and fluoride-alertness is stigmatized — a fight I didn’t want to be involved in. But after six years’ downspiral of food intolerances/allergies, then finally finding a way out of them, I discovered that resuming fluoride overexposure, even briefly, is one very quick way back into that downspiral.

I suggest anyone with food intolerances/allergies get off fluoridated water (for drinking, cooking, gardening edibles, even baths) for several months, do whatever detox-and-rebuild measures help you recover food-tolerances, then resume drinking/cooking with fluoridated water for a day or two — see what happens to the food-tolerances.

Many thanks also for plumbing Custom Pure water filters to PCC’s produce misters! It’s wasteful to grow and ship organic produce only to soak it in fluoridated water.
— Olemara Peters, Kirkland PCC member

More about: fluoride, pesticides, sweeteners

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