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

What is your line in the sand — the point at which you take a stand and say "no"? Is it an assault on your religion? Your kids and their education? The breakdown of society? The rule of law? Is it impoverishment and the collapse of the economy?

Frighteningly, ALL of them are currently under assault, and we’re being demoralized into submission. We’re being made to look the other way in the face of evil and to accept all of it as just part of the "new normal." We were warned this would happen back in the early 1980s. Now the media and Left try to dismiss any sane objection to depravity as “the new Satanic Panic.”

There is no cabal orchestrating our demise, but IT DID have an origin. There are but a few stages left until it’s all over. On "Glenn TV," Wednesday, Glenn Beck exposes the ultimate Achilles' heel of the entire process. We can stop America’s moral decline, but more Americans need to rise up and find the courage to say "NO FARTHER!" or this will be our new Alamo.

Watch the full episode below:

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A Russian submarine equipped with a “doomsday weapon” — a nuclear bomb that Russia claims can create a "radioactive tsunami" — has apparently vanished from its base in the White Sea, according to reports.

NATO has reportedly warned that the "Belgorod," a massive nuclear submarine, has "gone missing" from a Russian base in the Arctic Circle, and officials are concerned that Russia could be gearing up to test its advanced weapon system known as "Poseidon" or the "weapon of the Apocalypse."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, has suddenly been declared combat-ready after years of setbacks, technology issues, and delays.

On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn Beck detailed just how powerful Russia's "missing" submarine really is and broke down how these "coincidental" current events mirror those that led up to World War II.

"It's really not a good thing ... but the world has gone through things like this before," Glenn said. "In the end, after it's all over, good things can happen. You just gotta get to the other side."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Did the FBI just get away with the BIGGEST armed robbery in US history?

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In 2021, an armed group broke into a U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills and stole $86 million worth of valuables — the largest armed robbery in U.S. history. That "armed group" was the FBI. Now, it appears that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles "misled" the judge who signed the warrant for the seizure and still haven't returned the stolen goods to the 700 customers affected, according to newly disclosed court filings.

The details of the government’s alleged deception have come to light in a class-action lawsuit by U.S. Private Vaults customers who say the raid violated their rights, the Los Angeles Times reported. The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office denied misleading the judge, and a spokesperson claimed the warrants were lawfully executed.

On the radio program, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere reviewed some of the shocking story's details and discussed why incidents like this may become more common.

"None of the customers have been charged with any crimes. Not a single customer, out of the 700, not a single customer has been charged with a crime, but they can't get their stuff back," Glenn noted. "And this is going to happen more and more."

"It's incomprehensible that this stuff goes on in the United States of America," Stu said. "If you were to tell me this happened, you know, in Russia, I'd expect it. The fact that the United States government is claiming and just taking stuff from citizens all around the country with no crime, many times without even being charged, let alone ... conviction."

"Listen to this," Glenn continued. "The lawsuit also claims that some of the box holders who came forward to reclaim their seized property were then subjected to another investigation. If you went to the FBI and said, 'I want my stuff back,' the FBI examined their bank accounts, their DMV records, their tax return, and any criminal history checks."

However, box holders who decided to forfeit their property were also suspected of trying to "avoid becoming an FBI target," Glenn noted.

"So, you're guilty if you walk away and you're guilty if you ask," Stu added.

"This is America, gang," Glenn said. "It doesn't seem like it because it's not a constitutional America. But this is the America we now live in, and it is important that you wake up and stand up. ... God's people have got to start standing up, or we'll lose freedom. The world's freedom will be on our heads."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Glenn Beck: One TERRIFYING thing is clear no matter who caused the Nord Stream pipeline leaks

Photo by Danish Defence/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Evidence strongly suggests that the Nord Stream pipeline leaks were the result of sabotage, and U.S. and European officials have been working to discover who could be behind the explosions that damaged the natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Was it Russia? Ukraine? Germany? But no matter who carried this out, it has put the entire world in grave danger, because if this is indeed an attack, it means that non-military key infrastructure outside Ukraine is now on the "target menu," warned Glenn Beck on the radio program.

"It is so important for you to understand, this is now a non-military key infrastructure that has been destroyed," Glenn explained. "If Russia thinks we did it, they've already said, 'Nukes are now on the table.' That gives us a green light to use nukes," he added.

"This is non-military key infrastructure outside of the borders of Ukraine. To date, as far as we know, combat targets were either in Ukraine, or were military targets hit inside of Russia by Ukrainian Air Force or special forces. But the target menu now includes key civilian infrastructure: electricity, water utilities, energy production. That makes Russia more dangerous than ever. And that would be true no matter who carried out the attack," Glenn stated.

Now, the Russians are saying the Unted States did it, and the U.S. is saying it was Russia. But no matter who carried out the attack, "We are facing a Cuban Missile Crisis," said Glenn.

"This could end up being the biggest story of our lifetime and ... if it isn't played calmly by every side, this could be World War III," he continued. "Russia has already said that this gives them the right to use nuclear weapons as soon as they find out for sure who did it. That would be catastrophic, absolutely catastrophic."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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