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Cookson Beecher

Cookson Beecher

A journalist by trade, Cookson Beecher spent 12 years working as an agriculture and environment 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, WA. She received her bachelors 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 10 years. She currently lives in rural Skagit County, Washington.

Articles Written by Cookson Beecher

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Juicing is healthy, but easily contaminated by pathogens

women juicing produce

So many fruits. So many veggies. So little time. That’s the dilemma that people who want to eat as healthy as possible face. After all, who really has the time to eat the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits or vegetables — 2 1/2 cups of veggies and two cups of fruit — each… Continue Reading

Keep the love alive …

... and the pathogens dead; be safe with Valentine's Day oysters

illustration Valentine dinner

Oysters and champagne. Love is in the air. It must be Valentine’s Day. Yes, indeed, oysters have long been associated with romance — the perfect aphrodisiac. There’s actually some science to back that up, although it’s about the way rats, not humans, responded to oysters in a 2005 study done by a team of Italian… Continue Reading

Clean, safe, humane — producers say lab meat is a triple win

Uma Valeti and chef with lab meat meatballjpg

“The meatball that changed the world.” That was the enthusiastic prediction early last year from Uma Valeti, a cardiologist and now CEO of Memphis Meats, as he admired the freshly cooked meatball arranged gourmet-style on a plate. As a meatball, it definitely had a lot going for it. It was made by specialty chef Dave… Continue Reading

From fairs to nativity scenes, animal attractions harbor danger

live animal nativity scene with children

Watch children when they enter a petting zoo. Just about always, their faces light up with joy at seeing the animals as their hands reach out to touch them. Ask parents why they take children to petting zoos or farm animal exhibits at fairs and most will tell you that they think it’s important for… Continue Reading

Parents haunted by decisions as raw milk’s impact lingers

The Combs family, from left, Zeke, Jubilee, Brandon, Sarah with Lilia on her lap, and Titus.

“I don’t know where to stick her; she doesn’t have any veins left.” That’s a medical specialist talking as she examined 3-year-old Jubilee Combs, a patient at a Kentucky hospital undergoing dialysis for a severe kidney disease acquired from drinking unpasteurized raw milk. That was two years ago while the little girl was being treated… Continue Reading

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

apple-target-406

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