Op/Ed: "How I Changed the Way I Look at Food"

By Jeff Benedict

For a couple of years my wife, Lydia, had been encouraging me to write a book on the food industry.  I resisted, saying guys like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser did that.  I write nonfiction stories, usually ones built around legal disputes.  I couldn’t see how to do a compelling legal story around food.

Then something happened.  Lydia’s concern about food safety revolutionized the way our family eats.  This did not happen gradually.  One week she cleaned out our cupboards and refrigerator, getting rid of everything from brand-name cereal to frozen meat to staple products like butter, flour, and sugar.  Even the salt and pepper went.  Then she restocked our kitchen with organic foods.  We also started going directly to small local farms to purchase our meat, poultry, and dairy products.

We didn’t stop here, though.  My wife convinced me to convert our 20-acre property into an organic fruit and vegetable farm.  For a guy who grew up in a beach community in Connecticut, this was culture shock.  But our four children loved it because we added horses, guinea fowl and chickens.  We now collect close to twenty farm fresh eggs per day.  On top of that we plant, water, weed, harvest and can.  Now when we say grace, we mean it.

Besides improving the way I look and feel, this lifestyle dramatically changed the way I look at food.  The transformation got me searching earnestly for a food-related book topic.  That’s when I came across Bill Marler, a personal injury lawyer who has emerged as the country’s most influential advocate for food safety.  Today, food safety is a serious public-health problem.  The CDC estimates that food-borne disease causes about 48 million illnesses per year.  Roughly one in six Americans get sick from bad food.  Many of these cases are mild gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as the stomach bug.  But too many food poisoning cases are more serious, resulting in approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually.  The fatalities are often children and the elderly.

At the same time, food recalls happen often enough nowadays that we practically have a ho-hum attitude about them.  That is, unless more than a half a billion eggs are recalled and over two thousand people become sick with salmonella poisoning, which happened last year.  One year before that, nine people died from a salmonella outbreak linked to a peanut-manufacturing plant, leading to the largest food recall in U.S. history.  Then there’s E. coli, a potentially deadly pathogen that is no longer contained to meat.  E. coli outbreaks have now been linked to spinach, unpasteurized apple juice, peppers, bagged lettuce, sprouts, raw milk, cilantro, and cheese.  In 2009 E. coli even found its way into raw cookie dough.

But none of this was known back in 1993 when scores of children began showing up in Seattle-area emergency rooms with severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.  At that time, E. coli wasn’t a reportable disease in most states.  The USDA didn’t test for it in meat.  Most consumers had never heard the term.  That all changed when public health officials in Seattle announced that E. coli-contaminated hamburgers sold by Jack in the Box restaurants was responsible for a rash of children in Seattle hospitals.

Before the dust settled, the outbreak had spread throughout the West.  Over seven hundred and fifty children were poisoned and four died.  All three national news networks tracked the story, as did every major newspaper.  The idea that a hamburger could be deadly was a chilling wake-up call.  Amidst this environment, Bill Marler, a fledgling personal injury lawyer in Seattle, got a call from a mother of one of the children swept up in the outbreak.  Marler and his wife had just had their first child.  When he went to Seattle Children’s Hospital and witnessed first-hand what E. coli can do to a child, his entire approach to law and food changed.

The more I learned about Marler, the more I realized what a compelling and important story I could tell about him and the first food safety case he won.  I flew out to Seattle to meet him.  He picked me up in his red Volkswagen convertible – license plate “ECOLI” – and took me to his home for two days of face-to-face interviews.  Before I knew it I was wrapped up in the throes of the Jack in the Box case.  For the past two years I conducted over two hundred interviews with all the major players in that outbreak: the families whose children were swept up in the outbreak; the Jack in the Box executives who were at the helm at the time; the physicians and public health officials who figured out the source of the poison; and the lawyers for both sides in what became the first class-action case linked to an E. coli outbreak.

Today, E. coli is a household term and the Jack in the Box case is one that virtually every American adult remembers.  But few people realize how much that case changed the way food is processed and regulated in this country.  And for some of us, it changed the way we eat.    But regardless of whether you remain a consumer of fast food or eat strictly organic, all of us can agree that efforts to improve food quality and food safety in the U.S. should not get short shrift from legislators and policymakers.

Jeff Benedict is an award winning journalist and bestselling author whose latest book is POISONED:  The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat.

For more information about Jeff Benedict visit his website at www.jeffbenedict.com or www.facebook.com/jeffbenedict.author.

Click here to buy a copy of Poisoned:  The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat

Hey Joe, THIS is how you handle terrorists

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If you haven't seen the new Apple TV+ drama Tehran, it's definitely worth your time. It tells the story of an Israeli spy who sneaks into Iran to set up an attack on Iran's nuclear program. Now that the new Bond movie is delayed, this show has a little bit of everything to hold you over: international spies, hackers, double agents.

But I digress...

No matter how Hollywood tries to invent these stories — and this one is definitely good — they always fall short of what happens in real life. What happened in Iran this past Friday is a movie waiting to happen.

What happened in Iran this past Friday is a movie waiting to happen.

Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated as he was traveling to his private villa just a few miles east of Tehran. The operation involved a team of over 60 people. Around 50 logistical support agents backed up a dozen gunmen. They knew everything. His schedule, his private address, his classified movements, the route...

Fakhrizadeh was traveling in the middle of three armored vehicles. When they approached the ambush site, the hit team cut off all the electricity in the surrounding area. A car bomb was then remotely detonated, taking out the rear vehicle in the convoy. 12 gunmen proceeded to open fire on the other two cars. Iran's top nuclear scientist was dead, and NONE of the hit squad were wounded or arrested.

Now you can already guess where the blame is being directed this morning. Almost immediately, the fingers began to point at both Israel and the United States. The mainstream media is trying to paint this as an effort by Trump to sabotage a Biden effort to restart the Iran Nuclear Deal. Remember that "masterful" stroke of Middle East foreign policy? You know, the deal that included $150 BILLION — in cash — that Obama and Biden knew would be used to kill Americans and destabilize the entire region. Remember that?

They said it was impossible... but Trump did it.

They claimed their way was the only path to peace. What did they get from it? Iran spread out all the way to the literal doorstep of Israel. The elite Iraqi troops of the Republican Guard were staging in Syria, plotting that ultimate attack to take back Jerusalem. The entire region was set to explode... but then Trump scuttled the deal. What did it lead to? Historic peace agreements between the Arab world and Israel.

They said it was impossible... but Trump did it. He reimposed sanctions and launched a campaign to kill terrorists rather than give them money.

John Brennan took to Twitter this weekend to call the assassination a criminal act.

It echoes what they said when the top terrorist in the world — Qassem Soleimani — was assassinated in Iraq. Coincidentally, the Iranian government published artwork over the weekend depicting Soleimani and the, now dead, nuclear scientist standing side by side.

You see, now matter how people like Brennan and Biden might try and say otherwise, this is exactly the type of person Iran's "Robert Openheimer" was: a terrorist in the same category as Soleimani (but obviously with a lot more dangerous capability).

Iran has been protecting this man for two decades. They called him merely "an academic," but denied the UN IAEA inspectors to ever question him.

The rhetoric Iran fed the global community was that their nuclear program didn't have anything to do with weapons, and that this nuclear scientist was involved in research to improve their energy programs. But in 2007, the CIA said this was a cover story. In 2008, the United States froze his assets, and the IAEA made it public that this scientist was leading Iran's nuclear weapons project.

Iran called it "Projects 110 and 111." Fakhrizadeh was tasked with finding out how to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and make it durable enough so that it could survive re-entry into the atmosphere on top of an ICBM.

There can be no accommodation with terrorists.

Obama and Biden's nuclear deal didn't stop ANY of this. Israel revealed in 2018 that Projects 110 and 111 continued. Fakhrizadeh was specifically called out as still being the main man in charge.

Biden thinks his policy of accommodation will somehow bring us the peace that Neville Chamberlain once thought was possible with Hitler. When has this borne fruit with any maniacal tyrant or terrorist... ever?!

And that's exactly what Iran and their thugs are. They're terrorists! They're not a legitimate regime. Long before ISIS, the terrorists in Iran stole a country, planning to spread their caliphate all over the world. Members of Al Qaeda, despite being Sunni, enjoy free sanctuary under their protection. They want to burn Israel to the ground. They chant "death to America"... It's actually a holiday there.

There can be no accommodation with terrorists. Biden wants peace with Iran, and he'll probably roll out a red carpet and offer them a few hundred billion more dollars. We know this doesn't work. To quote Reagan, "there's one way to have peace and you can have it in this second... surrender."

That's how you deal with terrorists, and — whether we were involved or not — another one was just taken out.

How does a sports writer know how to fix America, and America's racial dilemma?

In a special edition of the "Glenn Beck Radio Program," Outkick sports columnist Jason Whitlock filled in Tuesday for Glenn to explain how we can bring America back together, lean into racial harmony, and restore the values of our Founding Fathers. Because if not us, then who will?

Jason started out by explaining how, during a recent appearance on the program, he felt a spiritual connection with Glenn, regardless of physical differences, as both share a common passion for God and country.

"Glenn and I share a kindred spirit. A kindred passion," Jason said. "We have two things that we love and are passionate about: God and country. I am not a minister. I'm a flawed sinner just like Glenn and just like you. But I am a believer. Believers share an energy that connects them, that cuts through our physical differences and makes those differences irrelevant relevant. That's what I felt when I met Glenn, an energy and a spirit that connects us. We are broadcasters, media personalities, operating in separate spaces, trying to talk to Americans, who share our passion."

Jason went on to say that he believes there are forces operating, both outside of and inside America, that are working to separate America from God, and that much of what we've witnessed in 2020 — from the racial division stirred by the mainstream and social media, to the rioting and looting by Antifa and Black Lives Matter, to the "remaking of the sports world into a shrine that celebrates resisting criminal suspects and denigrates this great country at every turn" — are symptoms and consequences of America's enemies separating God and country.

"We are one nation under God. We are nothing without Him," Jason continued. "The flawed sinners who founded this nation baked God into this country with their Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among those, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The foreign and domestic enemies of this nation are baking a new American cake. God isn't an essential ingredient in this new cake. He isn't an ingredient at all. The removal of faith is sewing the disharmony that is terrorizing and destroying the United States of America.

"Why am I here today? I'm here to tell you how we take our country back, how we restore the freedoms and the liberties our enemies seek to remove in their remaking of a godless America."

Watch the video below to hear more from Jason Whitlock:

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One of the most shocking things British journalist, political commentator, and author of "The Madness of Crowds," Douglas Murray witnessed during his recent stay in America, was how many Americans are acting as if they live in 1930s Germany or behind the Iron Curtain, afraid to stand up and speak out because they're afraid of the consequences.

Murray joined the "Glenn Beck Podcast" this week to explain why he believes the state of America is actually worse than we realize, and how the Left's obsession with rewriting history has ushered in guilt, fear, and a "silent majority."

Murray said he's particularly "fed up" with those on the Right who are afraid to voice their opinion because they don't want to become the target of leftist mobs on social media.

"Do you think anyone in history who told the truth had an easy time? You've got the easiest time that any opposition movement ever did in history," Murray said.

"You cannot have these people in America living in a free society — which is for the time being free — pretending that they live under the circumstances of Jews in 1930s Germany," he added. "Speak up. Speak out. Don't be a silent majority; be a very damn noisy majority. And don't put up with the oppression of people who are totally insincere ... they want to make money. They want to win. Nothing more. Call them out ... and get back to what you should be doing as a nation."

Watch the full interview with Douglas Murray below:

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New York City shut down its schools over the coronavirus with barely any notice. But even before that, Governor Andrew Cuomo apparently wasn't in the mood to be asked about it, and he made that very clear to reporters.

Asked on Wednesday whether parents could expect schools to be closed as soon as Thursday, Cuomo mocked reporters for their "obnoxious and offensive" questions and accused them of not paying attention. Watch the testy exchange for yourself here.

On Thursday's radio program, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere had plenty to say about Stu's least favorite governor and the decision to close schools. But Glenn also offered his own theory on why coronavirus restrictions have become so political: Americans refuse to be forced into submission.

Watch the video below to catch the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Subscribe to BlazeTV today with our BEST DEAL EVER for $30 off with promo code GLENN.