Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Burger That Shattered Her Life

I remember reading this piece when it ran in the New York Times back in October of 2009. The author, Michael Moss, won the Pulitzer for explanatory reporting the following year. It's not a profile, but since we have the option to do our final piece as explanatory journalism, I thought it would be good to read.

It tells the story of 22 year-old dance instructor Stephanie Smith, who fell victim to the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Cargill ground beef (Moss's article was published two years after the outbreak). His piece  follows the path of the burger patty that left Smith in a coma for months, eventually paralyzing her and causing her to suffer organ failure, on top of other things, when she came out of the coma. I think her case was considered the most severe anyone had ever seen.

When I first read it in 2009, I had just gotten to K and hadn't been exposed to food justice issues just yet. The article stuck with me for months because the evils of industrial agriculture were new to me. It was the first time I ever thought about the origins of my food, and I've come a long way since thanks to the food culture on this campus and in Kalamazoo.

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