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

Everything comes down to the two Senate runoffs in Georgia. If we lose both races, we lose the country. Democrats know this and are pouring in millions to usher in a Marxist agenda.

As the Left tries to hide how radical the two candidates really are, Glenn takes us inside the Democrat war room to expose the wolf in pastor's clothing, Raphael Warnock, and America's Justin Trudeau, Jon Ossoff. Socialism, the Green New Deal, and "defund the police" are all on the table. And Glenn warns of what's to come if conservatives don't activate: Chuck Schumer will weaponize the Senate, and the radical Left will launch an all-out assault to ravage the Constitution.

Watch the full special below:

The election and its aftermath are the most important stories in America. That's why we're offering our most timely discount ever: $30 off a one-year subscription to BlazeTV with code "GLENN." With BlazeTV, you get the unvarnished truth from the most pro-America network in the country, free from Big Tech and MSM censors.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" to explain how mail-in ballots are typically disqualified during recounts at a far higher rate than in-person, Election Day ballots, and why this is "good news" for President Donald Trump's legal battle over the election.

"One of the things that gives the greatest cause for optimism is, this election ... there's a pretty marked disparity in terms of how the votes were distributed. On Election Day, with in-person voting, Donald Trump won a significant majority of the votes cast on in-person voting on Election Day. Of mail-in voting, Joe Biden won a significant majority of the votes cast early on mail-in voting," Cruz explained.

"Now, here's the good news: If you look historically to recounts, if you look historically to election litigation, the votes cast in person on Election Day tend to stand. It's sort of hard to screw that up. Those votes are generally legal, and they're not set aside. Mail-in votes historically have a much higher rate of rejection … when they're examined, there are a whole series of legal requirements that vary state by state, but mail-in votes consistently have a higher rate of rejection, which suggests that as these votes begin being examined and subjected to scrutiny, that you're going to see Joe Biden's vote tallies go down. That's a good thing," he added. "The challenge is, for President Trump to prevail, he's got to run the table. He's got to win, not just in one state but in several states. That makes it a lot harder to prevail in the litigation. I hope that he does so, but it is a real challenge and we shouldn't try to convince ourselves otherwise."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:

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Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean is perhaps even more disgusted with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for his coronavirus response than BlazeTV's Stu Burguiere (read what Stu has to say on the subject here), and for a good reason.

She lost both of her in-laws to COVID-19 in New York's nursing homes after Gov. Cuomo's infamous nursing home mandate, which Cuomo has since had scrubbed from the state's website and blamed everyone from the New York Post to nursing care workers to (every leftist's favorite scapegoat) President Donald Trump.

Janice joined Glenn and Stu on the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday to ask why mainstream media is not holding Gov. Cuomo — who recently published a book about his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic — accountable?

"I'm vocal because I have not seen the mainstream media ask these questions or demand accountability of their leaders. [Cuomo] really has been ruling with an iron fist, and every time he does get asked a question, he blames everybody else except the person that signed that order," Janice said.

"In my mind, he's profiting off the over 30 thousand New Yorkers, including my in-laws, that died by publishing a book on 'leadership' of New York," she added. "His order has helped kill thousands of relatives of New York state. And this is not political, Glenn. This is not about Republican or Democrat. My in-laws were registered Democrats. This is not about politics. This is about accountability for something that went wrong, and it's because of your [Cuomo's] leadership that we're put into this situation."

Watch the video excerpt from the show below:

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As America grows divided and afraid to disagree with the Democrats' woke plan for America, Megyn Kelly is ready to fight back for the truth. For nearly two decades, she navigated the volatile and broken world of the media. But as America leans on independent voices more than ever, she's breaking new ground with "The Megyn Kelly Show."

She joined the latest Glenn Beck Podcast to break down what's coming next after the election: Black Lives Matter is mainstream, leftists are making lists of Trump supporters, and the Hunter Biden scandal is on the back burner.

Megyn and Glenn reminisce about their cable news days (including her infamous run-in with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump) and to look into the chaotic and shady world of journalism and the growing entitlement it's bred. For example, many conservatives have been shocked by how Fox News handled the election.

Megyn defended Fox News, saying she believes Fox News' mission "is a good one," but also didn't hold back on hosts like Neil Cavuto, who cut off a White House briefing to fact check it — something she never would have done, even while covering President Obama.

Megyn also shared this insightful takeaway from her time at NBC: "Jane Fonda was an ass."

Watch the full podcast here:

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