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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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Patchwork of state regs on raw milk blankets the country

raw milk for sale sign

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. That’s especially true when looking at how states are tangling with the dilemma of how to regulate the sale of raw milk. Even though federal law requires any milk that’s sold across state lines to be pasteurized and prohibits the sale of raw milk across state… Continue Reading

Raw milk’s ‘explosive growth’ comes with costs to the state

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“Explosive growth.” That’s how Washington state’s Agriculture Department describes what’s been happening in the raw-milk industry in the past 10 years. The numbers say it all. There were only six raw-milk dairies in the state in 2006. There are now 39 — more than double the number in 2013 when there were 18. All are… Continue Reading

New dietary guidelines show potential conflict between safe and healthy

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Time was that food and medicine were two different things. Food was for eating and medicine was for curing diseases. It was as simple as that. Take a look at the recently released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and you’ll see that things have changed. Food is now viewed as a form of preventive medicine… Continue Reading

Sesame Gains Traction in Push for Food-Labeling Requirements

Sesame seeds and sesame oil

For the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people in the United States who are allergic to sesame, the recently introduced Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 comes as good news. Included in the act’s provisions, which primarily seek to give consumers easy-to-understand labels on food so they can make healthy choices, is Section 8, which would require… Continue Reading

Managing ‘Black Gold’: Animal Manure and Antibiotic Resistance

Compost turner used for windrow churning. To avoid across contamination, compost turner was thoroughly washed by farm workers in between study treatments.

Many farmers refer to manure as “black gold” and rightly so because it adds nutrients to the soil, which helps crops grow and be more productive. In earlier times, before the advent of synthetic fertilizers, crop farmers would often buy a cow solely for the manure it would produce and use the manure for fertilizer…. Continue Reading

Learning to ‘Bridge the GAPs’ for Small and Mid-Sized Farms

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Waging a successful battle against the foodborne pathogens that can sicken people — or even kill them — takes some creative strategizing on the part of small- and mid-size farms, primarily because they’re so different from large farms and even from one another. With that in mind, about 25 people took advantage of the invitation to come to… Continue Reading

U.S. Apple Industry Gears Up to Comply With FDA’s FSMA Rules

Apple orchard

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is more than a well-known saying — it’s also what many people believe to be time-tested truth. And the tradition of giving an apple to a teacher on the first day of school also says something about the apple’s solid reputation for being healthy and tasty. In the… Continue Reading

Fair Lesson: Spread Soap and Water, Not E. Coli Infection

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There was a lot of hand-washing going on during the Northwest Washington Fair last week in Lynden, WA. Yes, there were the usual farm exhibits, carnival rides, food booths, music, talent shows, and much more. But the 24 hand-washing stations placed around the animal barns, along with a team of specially trained “Hand-Washing Ambassadors,” underscored the… Continue Reading

Before Roasting a Pig, the Pros Advise Food Safety Homework

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While summer often conjures up mouth-watering thoughts of pig roasts, if you’re actually contemplating tackling this culinary feat, some homework is in order. And that includes some homework about food safety. You certainly don’t want to sicken your guests, which can be avoided if you play it safe. When you roast a whole pig, your first… Continue Reading