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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Seattle

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Seattle, WA. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Seattle's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Seattle. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Seattle, WA. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Seattle, WA

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Seattle,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Seattle, WA

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Seattle, WA

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Seattle, WA

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Seattle, WA, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Seattle, WA

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Seattle, WA

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Seattle, WA.

 Greek Grocery Store Seattle, WA

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.

4.

They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Seattle, WA

Latest News in Seattle, WA

WA’s top education leader on this school year’s opportunities and challenges

With the arrival of back-to-school season, the much talked about “new normal” is finally in view, as students return to classrooms poised to look more like they did pre-COVID-19. Districts have largely shed strict health protocols and there’s renewed energy to make up for lost instructional time.But as families ...

With the arrival of back-to-school season, the much talked about “new normal” is finally in view, as students return to classrooms poised to look more like they did pre-COVID-19. Districts have largely shed strict health protocols and there’s renewed energy to make up for lost instructional time.

But as families gear up for another academic year, questions remain about how students will fare as the pandemic wrought havoc on classroom learning opportunities, the mental health of students and overall enrollment.

The Seattle Times Education Lab sat down with Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal to ask what he sees as some of the biggest issues facing schools this fall and what to watch as the new academic year unfolds.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

When it comes to this upcoming school year, what about it stands out to you?

This clearly takes on something a little unique because we are seemingly through the worst of the pandemic. I think the sheer burnout of the last two years caught up with everybody, and so there has been, I think, a genuine assessment of what matters most. Districts are poised to sort of simplify here, and really get their federal and state money focused on the classroom.

My sense is they have a much better game plan for instructional delivery, and just assessments alone — we assessed twice last year — it was still a year of total newness, novelty, and this year will feel a whole lot more like the instructional time they want with kids.

What’s your mood or outlook going into it?

The mood out there is people are tired already … and yet I think they’re looking to have this be the start of something really refreshing as opposed to always reactionary, which has been the case for the last three years.

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If I have one hesitation, it’s that genuine people are all very focused on student success right now, and people who aren’t very genuine are still bringing political rage to their school boards and to their districts. Unfortunately, in some communities, they’re still going to feel this national culture war as the dominant theme at least in the governance parts of their district, so that’s the one place that I think still isn’t settled.

What are you and your team watching for as the year progresses to gauge how things are going, how schools, how students are doing?

So first, the priority for us is learning, learning, learning. We want the system to feel like its whole energy is back to student supports, both academically and social-emotionally, which means they’re having to spend a lot less time on health protocols and being sort of front-line public health administrators.

By September, October we’ll have a very good initial look at attendance. We saw a nice recovery last year in average daily attendance compared to the prior year, so those are a couple of early indicators for us.

How concerned are you about the wellness of kids coming into this school year, especially when we hear educators talk about behavior issues?

My biggest concern for the success of kids was never whether they would get high quality academic content — it’s can the school system have a meaningful set of interventions when the rest of society has factors that are absolutely contributing to the mental health impacts of young people?

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That has weighed on me from Day One, as a parent it weighs on me to this day. So clearly something we will do is spend some energy listening to school districts on how they think that’s going, whether routine is helping — getting into a normal routine and lowering the anxiety of the unknown. We’ll be doing our best to try to understand where they put those investments in terms of social emotional learning, mental health and whether they’re seeing better outcomes this year.

Are there specific areas that continue to experience teacher and staff shortages?

My confidence is that we’re nowhere near what we’re seeing nationally in terms of teacher shortage, but we do have our pockets, we’ve got some by geography, and then we definitely have subject area — it’s still a real challenge to get enough educators who are certified in supporting students with disabilities. I do think we have a building level administrator problem, like we are having a heck of a time convincing people who have been in the classroom to become building level administrators. They have seen that job over the last several years and many of them say “No thank you.”

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During the pandemic, schools saw their enrollments drop. What do you expect is going to happen with that?

I expect some recovery in enrollment, it’s going to be relatively slow, but I expect to see that.

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If there’s one thing I wish we could snap our fingers and get out of the lexicon, it is the “K-12 lost 40,000 kids and we don’t know where they are” — that is the worst thing I hear. This wasn’t really a high school or middle school issue, people who were with us didn’t really leave — some of that occurred, they went to private schools and other options. Mostly, it was families for the last three years who had an incoming 5-year-old kindergartner who said “No, I’m going to wait until all this calms down.”

So it’s not that we lost 40,000 enrollment per se that were with us, it’s that we had 40,000 fewer [full time enrollments] last year — probably half of whom we never had.

What can you say about state test results right now? How worried are you about those compared to 2021?

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What we don’t have totally calculated and analyzed is spring data — that takes us a while. It got better, as it should — they were in school all year. Assessment this year will return to more “normal” — we’ll assess in the spring; it’ll be the same cycle we run pre-COVID.

The philosophy part of it though is … I’m just never going to believe that this assessment that we use gives families good information, nor educators good information.

It’s very good at the macro. We can tell you that more fourth graders struggled in math than pre-COVID, that’s a genuine and honest assessment that you can make of this whole deal based on tests. They are meant to say particularly in math, if we design backward from calculus, we have a concept of where students should be if they’re going to be in calculus at some point in high school.

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Those who come out though and say because a student didn’t get a four or a three they’re failing, is a really insincere approach. It’s occurring to me now that the assessment system is being weaponized because it’s being misconstrued for its purpose.

How are you talking with people and schools about the importance of building up that community again within schools and reestablishing trust?

What I’m reminding them is that comes first — they might have the best redesign of curriculum or instruction or assessment, but getting to know your students, teachers knowing their kids, building a relationship and then fostering that sense of hope, like “Hey, welcome to this class, if you put in the work I’m going to put in the work, and you’re going to have a great time in here and you’re going to learn a ton” — building that sense of expectations where the student also owns some of that responsibility, it’s back.

Jeanie Lindsay: 206-464-8946 or [email protected]; on Twitter: @jeanjeanielindz. Jeanie Lindsay is a reporter covering education for The Seattle Times

First day delayed for Seattle Public Schools due to planned teacher's strike

Washington's largest school district will have a strike after SPS and SEA were unable to reach an agreement.SEATTLE — The first day of school has been delayed in the Seattle Public Schools District due to a planned teacher strike, according to a message from the district.The first day of school was set for Wednesday, Sept. 7.Seattle Education Association (SEA), the union representing Seattle Public Schools teachers, announced authorization to strike after a vote over the Labor Day Weekend concluded Tuesday morning....

Washington's largest school district will have a strike after SPS and SEA were unable to reach an agreement.

SEATTLE — The first day of school has been delayed in the Seattle Public Schools District due to a planned teacher strike, according to a message from the district.

The first day of school was set for Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Seattle Education Association (SEA), the union representing Seattle Public Schools teachers, announced authorization to strike after a vote over the Labor Day Weekend concluded Tuesday morning.

The strike will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday if the union and the district don't reach an agreement beforehand.

"We have been here every day, putting in the hours from early in the morning to late at night," SEA Paraprofessional President Marla Rasmussen, who is a part of the bargaining team with the district, said. "We will continue to do so, we're prepared to stay all night as long as it takes, we've done it before and we'll do it again.

It's really important that we have your support and backing and understanding that we are all in this together in solidarity."

SEA educators say they are fighting for "student supports, reasonable workloads, and respectful pay" from SPS. Bargaining is ongoing between the two sides even as the vote was announced Tuesday.

"The needs were off the charts, students' academic needs, their mental health needs, the social emotional supports,” said Jennifer Matter, the President of the Seattle Education Association in regards to why more student supports are necessary.

"We want to come to school for our students, we want to be here on Wednesday, we want to be ready," Leschi Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Jamillah Bomani said. "But we want to make sure we are coming back to school with everything we need and everything our students need.

"So we are still holding out hope that something will happen and we can come tomorrow, but we are ready and willing if we need to to let the district know that we're not going to show up if we don't have everything our students need."

95% of the votes from SEA members were in favor of authorizing a strike.

SPS is among several districts across Washington dealing with potential or active educator strikes.

Teachers in Kent, the state's fourth-largest district, have been on strike since Aug. 25. Eatonville also is navigating negotiations with their union, while Port Angeles saw a tentative agreement reached between the union and district on Monday.

Washington now has both its largest and fourth-largest districts facing authorized strikes from educators.

SPS issued a statement saying the district has offered legal mediation in an effort to reach a contract agreement before Sept. 7, but that the offer was declined by the Seattle Education Association (SEA).

While the union wants higher pay for the lowest paid staff, a bulk of its demands include better support systems for special education and multilingual programs, plus better control over class sizes.

SEA members voted through the weekend and had until Tuesday, 9 a.m. to submit their vote to authorize a strike.

13 WA Colleges Among Top 500 In U.S.: Forbes

Forbes this week released its annual list of the best colleges in America. See which Washington schools made the cut. SEATTLE — The University of Washington's Seattle campus claimed a coveted spot on Forbes' rankings of the top colleges in the United States, adding to a strong showing this year for UW in academic recognition. Just last month, the university was named one of the top 20 schools in the world...

Forbes this week released its annual list of the best colleges in America. See which Washington schools made the cut.

SEATTLE — The University of Washington's Seattle campus claimed a coveted spot on Forbes' rankings of the top colleges in the United States, adding to a strong showing this year for UW in academic recognition. Just last month, the university was named one of the top 20 schools in the world by an influential international firm.

This week Forbes unveiled its top 500 schools in the nation, and UW was the only Washington college to make the top 50. A dozen other institutions of higher learning in the Evergreen State made the full list, including the two other UW campuses.

The publication’s 14th annual list of America’s Top Colleges highlights colleges and universities that offer “top academics and career success while minimizing debt for students across America,” according to a statement accompanying the release.

“We know that a college degree is a significant investment for any student, and one that’s been compounded by recent years of financial turmoil for many,” Emma Whitford, senior education reporter at Forbes, said in a release. “This list reflects the public and private universities that are going above and beyond to deliver on that investment.”

The University of Washington came in at No. 33 on this year’s list. On average, students who attend SCHOOL NAME receive about $15,450 in grant aid and graduate with approximately $5,776 in debt. Graduates also have a median 10-year salary of $126,800.

Other Washington schools on this year’s list include:

To choose this year’s top schools, Forbes focused on factors including whether students graduated on time, secured high salaries after graduation, and if students went on to have successful careers. Forbes also looked at how much debt students had post-graduation.

Data used to determine the ranking came from two federal government databases. Forbes also used data from its own publications as well as the Seattle-based software and data company PayScale, Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank Third Way, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

Schools with less than 300 undergraduate students were excluded. The five federal military academies in the United States were ranked in a separate list.

Read more about the 2022 Top Colleges methodology.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology took the top spot on this year’s list followed by the University of California - Berkeley and Stanford University, which tied for No. 2. Meanwhile, Harvard University dropped several spots to No. 15 this year after holding the No. 1 spot from 2017 to 2019.

See the full list of Forbes 2022 Top Colleges.

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WA ferries expect heavy traffic and delays for Labor Day weekend

Those hoping to cross Puget Sound one last time before school begins will have to exercise some patience this weekend, especially if those plans involve a car.Ridership on Washington State Ferries is approaching pre-pandemic levels, or about 82% of 2019’s numbers, according to the agencies. Vehicle traffic — more so than walk-on passengers — is bolstering those numbers. Since June 19, the system has logged 91% of pre-pandemic car volume. That number could easily hit or exceed 100% over the long Labor Day weekend....

Those hoping to cross Puget Sound one last time before school begins will have to exercise some patience this weekend, especially if those plans involve a car.

Ridership on Washington State Ferries is approaching pre-pandemic levels, or about 82% of 2019’s numbers, according to the agencies. Vehicle traffic — more so than walk-on passengers — is bolstering those numbers. Since June 19, the system has logged 91% of pre-pandemic car volume. That number could easily hit or exceed 100% over the long Labor Day weekend.

Walk-on volumes remain depressed, at 62% of what they were three years ago. Spokesperson Ian Sterling speculated that was due to continuing remote-work policies and the addition of several fast ferries to and from Kingston, Bremerton and Southworth.

The ferry system is not as well-equipped to handle these large flows as it was in 2019. Crew shortages have led to daily trip reductions to Bremerton, Kingston and Vashon Island, with no guaranteed timeline to return to what was once considered normal operations.

Ferry fury in WA hits boiling point

WSF has failed to restore full service, especially to routes lower on its priority list. While the fleet itself has had its struggles — most dramatically the ferry Cathlamet’s July 28 crash off the Fauntleroy dock in West Seattle — it’s the lack of crew, particularly deck officers, hobbling the largest ferry system in the country.

Sterling said there would likely be “tens of thousands” of passengers on ferries this weekend. The busiest sailings will be westbound Friday and Saturday, as vacationers seek refuge in the San Juan Islands or on the Olympic Peninsula, and then eastbound Sunday-Tuesday as travelers return home. Waits on some routes could be three hours or more.

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The next passage due for full restoration is between Edmonds and Kingston, but the head of WSF, Patty Rubstello, said she could not say when.

“Unfortunately, our crewing levels are not at a point yet where we can begin adding full service back to our next route — the Edmonds/Kingston route — even on a trial basis,” she said in a statement. “Doing so would put our restored runs in jeopardy. Until then, we will continue to add a second vessel to that route daily as crewing allows.”

State Ferries canceled 642 sailings between April and June of this year, according to the latest performance update from the Washington State Department of Transportation — close to 2% of all sailings, exceeding the system’s goal of 1%.

At the same time, on-time performance took a nosedive last quarter to less than 82% — well off the agency’s goal of 95%.

Farebox revenue is missing its mark as well: The $46 million collected last quarter was $8 million less than forecast.

The Anacortes, Point Defiance and Mukilteo routes are the closest to pre-pandemic normal, according to WSF.

There’s nothing you can do to make the ferries go faster, but here are a few tips for making your travel a little smoother, courtesy of Ian Sterling, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries:

• Walk on board if you can. The ferries’ car decks fill quickly, which means waiting in line while one, even two boats leave without you. You’ll find no such trouble boarding by foot.

• Travel off-peak hours. Early morning or late evening boats are less likely to be packed full. The westbound ferries will be more crowded at the start of the weekend, while the eastbound passages will be crowded at the end of the weekend, so if you can swing traveling against traffic, that will work to your benefit.

• Download the WSDOT app. There, you’ll be able to track alerts – including whether a route is running two boats or one and whether there are any delays. You can also use the “vessel watch” function to see exactly where the boats are at any given time.

• Pack food and water. In the event you end up waiting longer than you hoped, it will pay to have something to snack on. Some ferries have reopened their food galleys, but not all of them, so it would be a gamble to count on sustenance aboard.

• Be patient.

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David Kroman: 206-464-3196 or [email protected]; on Twitter: @KromanDavid. Seattle Times staff reporter David Kroman covers transportation.

‘Rainbow fentanyl’ found in OR, ID, but not WA

While officials have seized “rainbow fentanyl” across the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the U.S., the drug has not yet been found in Washington, authorities say.But it’s only a matter of time until the colorful pills ...

While officials have seized “rainbow fentanyl” across the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the U.S., the drug has not yet been found in Washington, authorities say.

But it’s only a matter of time until the colorful pills show up here — if they haven’t already — considering law enforcement officials have seized them in 18 states, including Oregon, Alaska and Idaho, said Jake Galvan, acting special agent in charge for the Seattle division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The fentanyl comes in different colors and in pills, powders, chunks or blocks that look similar to street chalk, Galvan said. Officials believe the colorful drug, every bit as deadly as fentanyl found here in blue pills, is intended to appeal to teenagers.

The colorful fentanyl has been traced back to the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels, Galvan said. Many drugs are laced with fentanyl to drive up the addictive factor, as it is 50 times more addictive than heroin and 100 times more addictive than morphine, he added.

Cartels made a calculated decision to introduce the colorful drug, knowing the pills will increase demand as they look for ways to “market” drugs to different groups of people, Galvan said.

“All they’re concerned about is making money,” he said. “They don’t care who they harm or who they kill, bottom line.”

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‘Rainbow fentanyl’ that looks like candy is seized on West Coast

In Washington, fatal overdoses from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl doubled in 2020 from the previous year. State health officials reported 337 deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2019, 672 in 2020 and 1,214 in 2021.

The stigma and misconceptions surrounding substance use disorders have contributed to the opioid crisis that’s caused a rise in fatal overdoses nationwide, said Caleb Banta-Green, an epidemiologist and professor in the University of Washington School of Medicine. Economic impoverishment and social factors have also played prominent roles, he said.

People initially use drugs as an escape, he said, noting that children aren’t given resources to healthily deal with pain or stress — and society has normalized alcohol use and smoking as ways to cope.

“Imagine that the tool you found to make you feel good happens to be addictive,” Banta-Green said. “[What you found] is not exercise, not mindfulness, not yoga, which are wonderful, but not nearly as potent as methamphetamine or fentanyl.”

The changing brain chemistry of those with substance use disorders leads to compulsive drug use, Banta-Green said, and withdrawals lead to psychological changes such as cravings.

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“The drug or alcohol becomes the most important thing in your life, and that obviously leads to social issues,” he said.

“We have a myth that people mostly recover from addiction just through sheer willpower, and it’s just not true.”

That perspective prompts a lack of empathy for people who use drugs, with some others asking, “Why would I care about them when they don’t care about themselves?” said Banta-Green, who manages stopoverdose.org, which outlines how to recognize, prevent and respond to overdoses.

The website also provides resources for families and friends of people struggling with substance use disorders and has a tool to help people find Washington pharmacies with Naloxone, a federally approved medication that works to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses.

He said fentanyl is so cheap and short-acting that people quickly develop a tolerance and increase their consumption, so the risks of addiction and overdose are extremely high.

While rainbow fentanyl has not yet been detected in Washington, Banta-Green said communities should demand lifesaving services and a humane approach from their leaders to helping people with substance use disorders.

“Until we have that political will and public demand, we’re never going to get anywhere,” he said.

Daisy Zavala Magaña: [email protected]; on Twitter: @daisyzavv. Daisy Zavala Magaña is a staff reporter for The Seattle Times.

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