Photo of 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.

It’s fair season, and a new crop of parents is taking excited youngsters to county and state fairs across the country so they can see the farm animals. Not only see them, but pet them as well. Maybe even kiss them.

Stop right there, many veterinarians and fair directors will say. Before heading to the…

You won’t see claims like this in any ads: “Our chicken is safer than our competitors’ chicken.”

There’s an unwritten understanding in the industry that food safety won’t be used as an advertising tactic.

chart USDA chicken salmonellaYet, in an important way, commercial chicken buyers can actually find out how chicken slaughter plants are doing when it comes…

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series about food allergies and the efforts by public health agencies, schools, legislators and parents to make it easier and safer for allergic individuals to manage risks.

A chronic disease with no known cure. An emerging epidemic that affects up to 15 million people in the…

EFI strawberry pickerWho better than the people in the front lines to recognize and call out the enemy?

That’s the underlying strategy of an approach to food safety that relies on farmworkers to spot possible problems in growing fields and packing sheds. Such problems include deer droppings in the field, manure drift from a nearby field, dirty…

fruits and vegetablesSo 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…

illustration Valentine dinnerOysters 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…

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…

At age 3, Jubilee Combs had to spend three weeks in the hospital and undergo dialysis treatments after contracting an E. coli infection fro drinking unpasteurized raw milk.
At age 3, Jubilee Combs had to spend three weeks in the hospital and undergo dialysis treatments after contracting an E. coli infection fro drinking unpasteurized raw milk.

“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…