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

Glenn Beck has been warning since last summer that you would not recognize your country in a year. Well, it's not even summer yet, and he says he already doesn't recognize the country.

Do you recognize an America in which people are making more money off government unemployment benefits than they can make by working, inflation is ramping up, housing, supply and labor shortages are widespread, and the current administration gives cybercriminals from Russia a free pass after the biggest cyberattack on our nation's infrastructure to date?

On the radio program this week, Glenn pointed out that while businesses all over the nation are downsizing, one brand store is actually booming — and it says a lot about the state of the economy and what it means for our country's future.

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:

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The largest American gas pipeline shut down on Friday due to what experts told the media was the "most dramatic cyberattack on U.S. soil to date." Investigators are looking at a group believed to be based in Russia known as "DarkSide."

It's time our leaders in the White House take national security seriously because this isn't the first time enemies of the U.S. — namely Russia and China — have used the cyber world to attack our nation and weaken our infrastructure, Glenn Beck argued on the radio program. Between Russia, China, and Iran — which President Joe Biden is now trying to make another nuclear deal with — it looks like the "Axis powers" of a "digital World War III" are lining up

"The journalists seem to care about the price of gasoline for the first time. Is it because they actually care? Or is it because they're trying not to focus on the fact that this was an attack most likely from Russia? And it isn't the first cyberattack from Russia of the year ... maybe we should be paying attention, to Vladimir Putin," Glenn began.

"And by the way, the pipeline going down, that's not the only [cyberattack] happening now," he added later. "Thirty thousand U.S. victims, small businesses and local governments, were hacked by cyber espionage units backed by the Chinese government in January of this year."

"There is an 'Axis power.' It is Russia and China. And, by the way, who is also aligned with Russia and China? Iran. Wow, this is weird," Glenn surmised. "But don't worry about that. Just leave your dog tags on another table. Let's not talk about China. Let's not talk about who actually crashed the jugular of our oil pipelines. I don't want war. But I got news for you ... this Biden administration is doing the job for our enemies."

Watch the video below to hear more from Glenn:


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Canadian clinical psychologist, author, and cultural firebrand Jordan Peterson is no stranger to cancel culture. Ever since he was thrust into the culture war, he has faced one controversy after another, stirred up by the woke elites who hate him with a passion. But although they have tried to make him pay for speaking out so fearlessly against their message, he refuses to back down and he believes you should, too. He joined "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week to explain why.

"There is a growth of the reluctant hero in all stories ... so many people think that they don't have what it takes, that they're not the hero," Glenn said to Peterson. "How do you get people to recognize and then have the courage to stand? You've taken a beating ... why is it worth it and how do you get there?"

"I think it's worth it because I believe the alternative is worse ... to stay silent when you have something to say," Peterson replied. "You don't know what it is within you that requires your voice, right, because you feel like 'I have something to say.' Where does that come from exactly, that feeling that you have something to say?

"Maybe you're disgruntled at work and you're choking on your own bile because the situation is not just in your estimation," he continued. "You're dying to say something, but you won't. Well, you'll die if you don't say it. Maybe it's a death by a thousand cuts. I don't like deferred punishment. I'd rather take it now and keep the future clean, which is why I encourage people to have the fights now, not to hide things in the fog for later. They grow and metastasize. It's better to confront what you need to confront when it's small and you have some possibility of victory."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation, or find the full podcast with Jordan Peterson here:

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Top officials at the Federal Reserve are doing what they can to sugar coat what's ahead for our economy, telling Americans we may hit a "transitory" period of inflation that will settle by 2022. But Bank of America is saying something different. The bank's latest earnings call commentary warned "at the very least" transitory hyperinflation is ahead.

Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn Beck explain what this means for prices and for our economy.

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