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Cookson Beecher

Cookson Beecher

A journalist by trade, Cookson Beecher spent the past 12 years working as an agricultural & environmental reporter for Capital Press, a four-state newspaper that covers agricultural and forestry issues in the Pacific Northwest. Before working at Capital Press, she was the editor of a small-town newspaper, the Courier Times, in Skagit County, Wash. She received her B.A. in political science from Hunter College in New York City, and before moving West, she worked for publishing companies in mid-town Manhattan. In the 1970s and 80s, she and her family lived in North Idaho, where they built a log home and lived a “pioneer life” without running water and electricity for almost ten years. She currently lives in rural Skagit County of Washington State.

Articles Written by Cookson Beecher

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‘Historic Wins’ for Organic Industry in New Farm Bill

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“Like being thrown under the bus” was how organic farmers and others in the industry described their fate a little more than a year ago when Congress failed to agree on a new farm bill and instead extended the 2008 version. Gone were some previously funded programs — among them research, marketing, certification cost-share and data-collection… Continue Reading

Families in WIC Nutrition Program to Get More Fresh Fruits, Veggies

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Families enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program will be able to get more fresh fruits and vegetables beginning next month, thanks to changes in the program’s “food packages,” which are outlined in a recently published USDA final rule. Under the revisions, the cash value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers for… Continue Reading

Fermenting Veggies at Home: Follow Food Safety ABCs

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Fermentation has become what USDA microbiologist Fred Breidt, Jr., describes as a “movement that’s picking up speed.” And for good reason, said Breidt, who specializes in the safety of fermented and acidic foods. Referring to home preparers, small producers and restaurant owners, he said that “they like being able to pick up these nice flavors… Continue Reading

Staying Safe When Handling Live Poultry

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Yes, baby chicks, ducklings and other poultry that appear in farm stores this time of year are as cute as can be. And, yes, children especially love to hold them and even nuzzle them mouth to beak. Unfortunately, that’s where the danger begins. The reason? No matter how healthy or clean the baby birds may… Continue Reading

A Mom and a Dairyman Plead: Don’t Feed Children Raw Milk

Kylee Young was a healthy two-year-old when she contracted an E. coli infection from drinking raw milk, an illness that caused a stroke and culminated in a kidney transplanted from her mom.

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Two years ago, when Oregon parents Jill Brown and Jason Young met Brad and Tricia Salyers, the families had no idea that they would eventually be sharing in a tragedy that sickened four of the Salyers’ children and left Brown and Young’s youngest child, Kylee – 23 months old at the time – with such… Continue Reading

Tennessee E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Raw Milk Dairy

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The strain of E. coli that caused nine children to become ill after drinking raw milk obtained from McBee Dairy Farm near Knoxville, Tenn., has been matched to animal waste collected at the dairy, according to a Thursday press release from the Tennessee Health Department. Five of the nine children, all younger than seven, required… Continue Reading

Girl Fights E. Coli from Raw Milk as Medical Bills Mount

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Almost lost in the flurry of “food-freedom” comments on the Facebook page of an eastern Tennessee raw-milk dairy farm that has been linked to an E. coli outbreak is the plight of five-year-old Maddie Powell, who remains hospitalized after developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections…. Continue Reading

Organic Growers Urged to Comment on FDA’s Draft FSMA Rules

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Organic growers are among those sighing in relief now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the comment period for its proposed produce and preventive-control rules until Nov. 22. The proposed rules are part of the historic Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011. The… Continue Reading

TN Raw Milk Dairy Linked to E. Coli Outbreak Reboots Operations

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Tennessee health officials have given a raw-milk cow-share operation that has been linked to an E. coli O157 outbreak that has sickened 9 children — all of them under 7 years old — the green light to start offering its milk to its cow-share members again. “We will be delivering milk today,” dairy farmer Marcie… Continue Reading