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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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Food safety plays part in urban agriculture bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, at the Lafayette Greens Community Urban Garden in Detroit to discuss the importance of local agriculture with Garden Manager Gwen Meyer, right.

Imagine walking down the street in your city neighborhood and stopping by a garden, planted in what used to be a vacant lot, to buy some vegetables or fruit for supper. For many people, this is not pie-in-the sky dreaming. It’s a welcome reality — and a pleasant change in scenery. As urban agriculture continues… Continue Reading

Staff of life can pose food safety dangers

A deer makes its way through a wheat field on the Palouse region in southeast Washington. More land is planted with wheat in the world than any other crop. It provides 20 percent of the world’s caloric consumption, and 20 percent of the protein for half of the world’s poorest people. (Photo by Horst Onken)

Just as wheat is the staff of life in many human civilizations, it is as important to animals and insects. In fact, they love it, as anyone who has lived near or worked in the wheat fields very well knows. All manner of critters, including deer, birds and rodents, will seize the opportunity to dine on… Continue Reading

Victim warns expectant moms about food safety complications

Baby born prematurely with listeriosis after mother ate contaminated cantaloupe

Listeria baby Kendall 406x250

Almost 5 years old now, Kendall Paciorek is right on track. She can walk, run, talk and say her ABCs. And while that normal progression of abilities common to many children her age might not seem all that impressive, to her mother and father Michelle Wakley-Paciorek and Dave Paciorek, it’s “a miracle.” Little Kendall was… Continue Reading

Largest food facilities must meet preventive rule by Sept. 16

FSPCA preventive controls

“It’s a lot to take in — like drinking from a fire hose.” That’s how Donna Garren, regulatory affairs and technical specialist with the American Frozen Food Institute, describes the challenge that food facilities are grappling with as they move toward the deadline for compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s preventive controls rule for… Continue Reading

Listeria outbreak set apple industry on a targeted course


SEATTLE — Sometimes when something that “just can’t happen” does happen, valuable lessons are learned. That was the case when some batches of commercially produced, packaged, whole caramel apples turned out to be the cause of a listeriosis outbreak in 2014-15 that infected 35 people from 12 states, putting 34 of them in the hospital. Listeria… Continue Reading

Tech+intellect = 100% consumers at CPS Research Symposium

Bob Whitaker of the Produce Marketing Association, is on the board of directors for the Center for Produce Safety and is a member of its Technical Committee.

SEATTLE — The mood was upbeat as the Center for Produce Safety’s seventh annual Research Symposium opened. “Welcome to our coming-out party,” said an enthusiastic Steve Patricio, the center’s board chairman, as he welcomed more than 300 attendees to the two days of research reports about food safety in the fresh produce industry. Patricio, president and chief executive… Continue Reading

One look at the enemy and you’ll get serious about food safety

bacteria hand shake

What could be more frightening than an unseen enemy — one so stealthy and powerful that it can send you to the hospital or even kill you? And what if that enemy is so small that you can’t see it, don’t even know that it’s there. Maybe right there on some food you’re about to… Continue Reading

Researchers find nanoparticles in 6 of 6 U.S. baby formulas tested

Looking more like an overhead view of garden stones and shrubs, this highly magnified photo shows nano titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide found in baby formula in the U.S.

Recent research has detected potentially harmful nanoparticles in six out of six popular infant formulas tested. Not surprisingly, this has triggered yet more concern about the safety of these engineered particles, which are added to some of the foods we eat. The products tested were Gerber Good Start Gentle, Gerber Good Start Soothe, Enfamil, Similac… Continue Reading

Food safety initiative puts farmworkers front and center

This green label can only be used on produce from suppliers who are certified by the Equitable Food Initiative, which works to improve the safety of fresh product while ensuring farmworkers' are in the loop as well as on the front lines in the war against pathogens.

When the topic is food safety, the first things that might come to mind for many are the farmers growing the food, the stores selling the food, and even the public health scientists who are testing the food to make sure it doesn’t contain any pathogens that could make us sick — or even kill… Continue Reading

Is that the answer blowin’ in the wind, or pathogen drift?


“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” — Bob Dylan The question in the case of food safety is: “What’s blowing in the wind?” Turns out it can be dangerous pathogens such as E. coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella when manure is spread on the land, which is a common agricultural practice. At least that’s… Continue Reading