Cookson Beecher

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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.

Latest Articles

White button mushrooms. For some people, they’re a cooking staple. For others, they’re not even on the shopping list. But no matter where they fall in a consumer’s bank of preferences, these popular mushrooms are in the forefront of what some are hailing as the “latest breakthrough” in crop breeding: gene editing, often referred to as CRISPR. As small as they may be, these little mushrooms represent an important agricultural milestone because they were the first…
MOUNT VERNON, WA — They’re out there on the front lines waging a battle against dangerous pathogens that can contaminate your food and make you sick or even kill you. Yet most people don’t even think about them when they buy their food. Who are these food-safety soldiers? None other than the farmworkers, the people who harvest and pack the fruits and vegetables you buy. Most people don’t see them simply because they’re often working…
We get our food from all sorts of places — grocery stores, restaurants, farms, relatives, our own gardens — and sometimes community food banks. In each and every case, food safety plays an important part in protecting us from getting sick from contaminated food. But nowhere is that more important than at food banks. Why food banks? The answer can be seen in who turns to community food banks and pantries for help in obtaining…
It’s time to grab a sun hat and shovel, or rake, and head to the beach to dig for clams or gather oysters. What could be a better summer outing? But time is of the essence. This season’s last chance for minus low tides, which are the best times to dig for shellfish or gather oysters, is coming up. As reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the upcoming minus low tides, defined as…
Behold the camel — giver of  milk long known for its abundant supply of vitamins, proteins and minerals — and in some cases for sustaining life itself. Yes, camel milk. People in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have depended on camels for milk for centuries. And now, in the United States, as the milk is getting a toehold,  demand is outstripping supply. Always in the quest to find the magic bullet of health, some…
Watch children’s first reactions at a dairy farm and you’ll see their hands quickly going up to their faces and their fingers pinching their nostrils shut. “What’s that awful smell,” they’ll ask the farmer. For a farmer who hasn’t hosted groups of students before, the first expression crossing his or her face might be one of puzzlement, but then quickly replaced by a smile or chuckle of understanding. “It’s manure,” the farmer will tell the…
They call her “The Weed Whacker.”  As the first marijuana specialist for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment — and therefore the first marijuana specialist for a public health authority in the entire nation — she disposed of $28 million dollars of cannabis products in 2016 alone. Why? Because she found them out of compliance with her health department’s regulations and requirements. On the other side of the coin, she’s known for saving…
There’s an art to catching a fish, as many an avid angler will tell you. But for biochemist Mike Selden, CEO of Finless Foods, it takes some serious science to grow one. Serious science such as extracting a sample about the size of a quarter from a living fish, putting it into a bioreactor filled with a nutrient-rich growth medium that includes protein, sugars and salts, and watching the cells divide and grow out into…
Just as feathered birds head south for warmer weather, so, too, do human snowbirds, who pack up their RVs and travel trailers they call home once they get to their sunny destinations. But food-safety gurus warn that there’s no vacation from food safety. “I don’t subscribe to the ‘knock-on-wood’ approach to food safety,” said Bill Flynn, food safety manager for Mohave County in Arizona. People should follow the same food safety principles at home or…
If you think you’re got problems, try being a farmer. They’re faced with an impressive array of enemies that are waging war on their crops and their livelihoods. These adversaries don’t need sophisticated weapons. They’ve got something more deadly — an arsenal of biological ammunition. And for the most part, they’re small, very small, oftentimes microscopic. Whether they be the brown marmorated stink bug, a voracious eater that damages fruits and vegetables; the diamondback moth…