Photo of Jeff Benedict

Jeff Benedict is an award-winning journalist and author who teaches writing at Southern Virginia University. His book, "Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat," was published in 2011.

In 1993, 623 people in the western U.S. fell ill with a little-known bacteria called E. coli O157:H7. Ultimately, four children would die from their infections; many others suffered long-term medical complications. The bug was later traced to undercooked hamburger served at Jack in the Box restaurants. This outbreak thrust foodborne illness onto the national

When I left Connecticut with my family four years ago, we settled into a rural Civil War-era farm in Virginia. I never intended to farm — I was just happy to find an affordable historic home with a few acres around it.


But after settling in, we converted our place to an organic farm. It…