SFS Books: May 10th – Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat


Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat Our May book club selection is Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat by Jeff Benedict

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 10th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

Interested in food safety? Curious about how the common, yet sometimes deadly E. coli bacteria shows up not only in ground meat, but also strawberries, spinach and sprouts?

Join the Slow Food Seattle Book Club for a discussion of Jeff Benedict’s Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat. Benedict tells the story of the 1993 E. coli break-out in Jack in the Box hamburger meat through main characters nine-year old Brianne, who came close to dying and still lives with the impact of the episode, and Bainbridge Island-based lawyer, Bill Marler, who took on her case as a young lawyer.

“Over a period of a few weeks, more than 700 cases scattered across four Western states; four children died gruesomely, with bleeding intestines and kidney failure. But Mr. Benedict, a lawyer turned journalist, pays relatively little attention to the story’s medical complexities; his focus is the gruesome and complicated legal tangle that ensued. Nowadays we are all too familiar with the practices of giant processing plants, but back in those innocent times it was all new and appalling — the poorly regulated slaughterhouses, the batching of meat for grinding, the wide distribution of product, which maximized the spread of any contaminant.” — Abigail Zuger, M.D., New York Times, June 27, 2011

Jeff Benedict and Bill Marler

Author, Jeff Benedict (left) and attorney, Bill Marler (right). Photo: WSU Photo Services

Poisoned is as relevant today as it is to the 1993 story it tells. Just months after the book’s 2011 publication, another E. coli outbreak, this time in Germany, was traced back to salad vegetables.

“Although much more is known about food safety now than in 1993, the book speaks to our times. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that six more strains of E. coli will be banned from ground beef. That move follows pressure from Marler and represents a step forward in the fight for safe food, which is what “Poisoned” is all about.” — Lynne Terry, The Oregonian, September 24, 2011

Please join us! If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, find an excerpt here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/health/28excerpt.html?_r=1&ref=views#

RSVP to books@slowfoodseattle.org and/or on the Facebook event page

About Jeff Benedict
Jeff Benedict is a contributor for Sports Illustrated and a writer for SI.com.  In 2011 he launched Inspire Books, his own book publishing imprint.  He published Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the way Americans Eat under the new imprint.  Poisoned is Benedict’s tenth book and critics consider it his best.  The New York Times called it “the full literary experience of a medico-legal thriller in a work of nonfiction.”

Benedict was born in 1966 in New London, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor’s in History from Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master’s in Political Science from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. He previously practiced law in Connecticut, where he has spent most of his life. Today he lives in Virginia where he teaches Writing and Mass Media at Southern Virginia University and lives on a Civil War-era farm with his wife and best friend Lydia Benedict and their four children. http://www.jeffbenedict.com

Meet the SFS 2012 Board Candidates

Chef Robin Leventhal

Chef Robin Leventhal

Rob Salvino

Rob Salvino

The nominating committee of the Slow Food Seattle board of directors has completed the process of selecting a slate of four candidates for board positions that will be proposed for election by voice vote at the annual meeting on Sunday, April 1st.

Renai Mielke

Renai Mielke

Anna Li

Anna Li

The nominees submitted background questionnaires that were evaluated by the committee and the board. Those selected as potential candidates were interviewed by a committee member. Our criteria for selecting candidates were – who would bring balance, enhancement, and experience to help us reach our goals.

Our bylaws stipulate that the members of the Slow Food Seattle Board of directors be elected by the membership. The nominating committee with the approval of the Board prepares a slate of candidates for board positions to be voted on by the membership attending the annual meeting.

During the past year there have been resignations of two members because of their job commitments. Our bylaws provide for the appointment of members to fill the unexpired terms of those resigning. This resulted in the appointment of Anna Li and Renai Mielke. Anna and Renai are now being placed on the ballot to be elected for a two-year term.

The board further considered and approved the applications of two additional candidates for board positions, Robin Leventhal and Rob Salvino.

Learn a little about the candidates below by their responses to the questions we posed and more in person at the

Annual Members Meeting on Sunday, April 1st.

The candidates are:

  • Robin Leventhal, website Follow Robin on Twitter Find on Chef Robin Leventhal on Facebook
  • Anna Li, TwizzlePop Marketing
  • Renai Mielke, website  Follow Renai on Twitter Find Renai on Facebook
  • Rob Salvino, Terra Preta Sales

Are you familiar with Slow Food and if so what aspects of the organization have been of most interest to you?

  • Robin – When I first heard of Slow Food, as in NOT Fast Food, it was on a trip to Italy after College Graduation. I was a big gardener and ceramicist at the time and had just begun my curiosity in the kitchen as more than just post college survival meals. I can thank my Italian roommate who taught me the recipes she had learned from her mother.This was in rural Maine where eating from the sea was a way of life and the table was very much a pleasurable experience. I ate this up as if I was famished. Not malnutrition from lack of food but rather devoid of soul. Very much the antithesis of what I grew up with. While my parents know good food, they did not know how to share the table with good conversation. Growing up, meals were about sustenance, and very devoid of pleasure. Butter, sugar and salt were forbidden in our household. And it seems my mother only knew how to kill what was already dead. What Barbra, my Italian roommate taught me was how fun and delicious dinner can be. I embraced the Slow Food philosophy the second I read about it, as it resonated with this new found appreciation of what sharing the table really can be.Our health is multi-faceted. Fundamentally, if we take care of ourselves then theoretically we will live a long and healthy life. But, in this day and age when time is short and opportunity for indulgence is everywhere, how do we find that balance? As a cancer survivor I know firsthand how vital a good night sleep and avoiding stress is to maintain our health. I embrace living well, sugar in moderation but to deny ourselves what the earth gives us would only deny our true potential.
  • Anna – I have been a member of Slow Food for a number of years. During my membership with the Seattle chapter, I furthered the Makah Ozette Potato presidium by spearheading an effort to use the potato in The Essential Baking Company’s Potato bread. The Makah Ozette was featured in the retail loaves during its season and the local potato, heirlooms, and Slow Food Seattle were featured in flyers inside the bread bags along with an extensive PR campaign. I feel Slow Food is a terrific organization that helps promote and educate about heirloom, local, and sustainable food systems, and the joys of sharing the table.
  • Renai – I love the awareness that Slow Food Seattle brings to the sustainability and harvest practices of Pacific Northwest seafood through social media and sponsored events, as well as Slow Fish. I’ve spent five years working in the seafood industry, and am also the daughter of an Alaskan commercial fisherman – seafood sustainability is what sparked my initial interest and love for food politics..
  • Rob – Although I have not followed it closely I am familiar with the Slow Food organization. In fact, I was living in Rome in 1985 when the first McDonalds restaurant opened up at the base of the Spanish Steps—an event which ultimately gave rise to the Slow Food movement. What most interests me about Slow Food? There isn’t just one thing. On the one hand there’s the appreciation of good food and food traditions. The commitment to healthy communities, sustainable agriculture, and the biodiversity of our food supply are just as important if not more so since they touch all of us.

Which volunteer or professional organizations have you been a member and what was/is the extent of your involvement?

  • Robin – HUTCH: Actively do outreach for the Premier Chefs Dinner. Cooked for it in 2005, have sat on the board from ’06 – present. This is a lifetime position for me as a Cancer Survivor. I want to see this research facility succeed in their pursuit of finding better treatments and ultimately cures for cancer. Northwest Pottery: Do outreach for the annual auction as well as teach a class combining my two passions: cooking and ceramic. This is about creating something special to share with someone. It’s about the aesthetics of pleasure, sharing and giving. The class culminates with a potluck where we share a table featuring students’ favorite dishes, both culinary and ceramic. My hope is they take away a few of the ingredients for a more meaningful and passionate life. FareStart: Have done 3 dinners over the past 10 years. I believe intensely in the vision and mission of this organization and am actively seeking employment as a Chef Instructor at their downtown location. My choice to return to teaching is threefold. I love facilitating people in their own personal discovery. Every day that I teach, I learn, thus perpetuating my own growth. But ultimately, it’s the importance of giving back that I feel teaching is important and rewarding work that not only empowers me but supports my community.
  • Anna – I have been involved with a number of organizations over the years in addition to my involvement with Slow Food Seattle. My experiences include member of Chefs Collaborative, volunteering for Seattle Tilth, board member of the Seattle Skating Club, member of Green Guerillas, founding member and board member of the Skating Club of Darien.
  • Renai – I am currently a member of the Puget Sound Mycological Society. I have in the past donated my time to Alleycat Acres; auction items, financial support, and time to Community Alliance for Global Justice/SLEE.
  • Rob – Organizations that I belong to or recently belonged to include Chefs Collaborative, Washingon Tilth, Seattle P-Patch, and PCC Farmland Trust. My volunteer life tends to mirror my personal and professional life. Over the past 15 years, my wife and I have been busy raising two very active boys so I’ve been involved in youth sports and schools. I’ve been a basketball and baseball coach. I was treasurer for the kids’ elementary school. I’ve had a keen interest in healthy food and healthy farms since the early 90s. Back in the early 90s while I was the chairman of the Chicago Sierra Club, I organized a group of members into a sustainable agriculture committee. We held conferences. We educated the broader community on the importance of healthy food and healthy farms.

Slow Food Seattle is dedicated to activities that create responsible and pleasurable experiences at the table. Please provide a brief description of your interest and activities related to such objectives.

  • Robin – I feel my connection to the table both through my background in ceramics and over 20 years in the culinary industry give me a unique angle on the pleasure of sharing a meal. It becomes even more powerful when we have been responsible for its creation. From planting the seeds for the lettuces in the salad to making the dressing and all the components that accompany it, I can facilitate that entire experience.
  • Anna – My interest in food and sharing its pleasures runs long and deep such that it is a core aspect of my being. I come from a family of foodies that conjures up memories such as my dad rousing a 4 year old me in the wee, early hours to get freshly made napoleons from the bakery and my having a distinct preference for the French-style powdered sugar versus the Italian-style iced napoleons. Or, my making soft pretzels at age 10. Or, the summer I picked raspberries with my 7-month pregnant sister so that we could put up that year’s supply of jam. Summers in Seattle, I’m obsessed with growing and harvesting from my peach tree and bringing forth the year’s heirloom tomatoes and other seasonal treats. I am an avid Farmers Market participant. I have also been a member of a supper club where a group of friends would gather together to prepare a multi-course themed meal. Knowledge is traded and everyone goes home nourished body and soul.All of this is to say that I have a devoted interest in food and that I believe that Slow Food is a wonderful hub where participation and the sharing of information with like-minded folks can result in the magical.
  • Renai – I maintain a “lifestyle” blog that focuses primarily on whole and wild foods, foraging, connecting with the outdoors and local farmers, and enjoying the Pacific Northwest through food and community. I have an interest in nutrition and herbal remedies, and believe strongly in eating out of respect, awareness, and pleasure.
  • Rob – Who doesn’t love a party? I believe that it is incumbent upon Slow Food Seattle to host events that people on both sides of the food equation together in a fun and informative manner. One of the particularly intriguing challenges that I think about all of the time is how to bring good food to the masses and reduce what tends to be an activity among the cultural elites (think Jamie Oliver). I don’t have an answer, but I’d love to share ideas with others like you.

What attributes/skills would you bring to the Board of Directors and what roles would you see yourself contributing to on the board.

  • Robin – What I bring to Slow Food is my passion for sharing the magic of life. As a chef, I know how wonderful a delicious meal can make us feel, satisfying not only our bellies but our soul. I want to be around for as long as possible to make as much delicious food, share insight on how someone can find their own personal bliss and then continue that cycle of pleasure into their communities. It will be a better world, one bite, one lesson, one shared meal at a time.
  • Anna – I have worked professionally in marketing for many years. My experience includes developing and executing brand positions, advertising, public relations, events and new media solutions. I have held positions with Ogilvy & Mather NY, Young & Rubicam, American Express, and ABCNews.com at Starwave. As the Director of Marketing and Sales at The Essential Baking Company, I became well versed in the issues and regulations of organics and “clean” food. I have managed internal, external and multi-departmental teams, and have worked on projects requiring innovative solutions. I hope to contribute to Slow Food’s efforts through my team building, marketing, communications and organizational skills.
  • Renai – I work professionally as an Accounting Specialist, have done event planning and small-scale catering for previous employers, have an always expanding desire for knowledge of wild foods (just beginning to learn about mycology), bake a mean gluten free brownie, and am a social networking geek. I’d be happy to use any of these skills through Slow Food Seattle and would be open to contributing in any areas that were deemed a good fit.
  • Rob - My professional life centers around sales and marketing, so it would be straightforward for me to bring those skills to the Board of Slow Food Seattle. I also have some experience with finance and accounting and if push came to shove I would accept a treasurer role. I don’t like Facebook or other social media (note the similarities between slow food and slow communication) but I do know that it’s a valuable modern communication tool. I know some tricks of the trade regarding it.

You can find a current list of the Slow Food Seattle board here.

Join us for our Annual Slow Food Seattle Annual Meeting & Potluck on Sunday, April 1, 2012

Slow Food Seattle Membership Meeting & Potluck

MEET fellow Slow Food Seattle members, LEARN about the Seattle chapter, SHARE your potluck dish and GET INSPIRED about what is going on and coming up! We’ll share some wonderful food, introduce our current board members and the slate of new candidates, as well as take some time to chat about the different programs and areas that Slow Food Seattle is currently working on in the our community.

Please register for this FREE event: RSVP by Saturday, March 31st via Brown Paper Tickets
Please register for this FREE event



- Potluck lunch and welcome
- Slow Food Seattle chapter updates
- Announcement of new SFS board member nominees and voting by members
- Round table discussions

Bring a dish and bring the family!

Please bring a potluck dish (any course you prefer) and a non-alcoholic beverage to share. This meeting is FREE and open to all Slow Food Seattle members, supporters, and their families.

Dishes should be ready to serve and include serving utensils. Bring your own plates, flatware and glasses, etc. We’ll provide cards for you to label your dish with its name & yours. Please note any dietary information that may be helpful to fellow members.

Spread the word, the annual meeting and potluck is open to all, you do not need to be a member to attend.

In an effort to keep the potluck as low-impact as possible, plan to bring your own dishes and flatware.

Event Info:

DATE: Sunday, April 1, 2012
2:00 to 4:00 PM
Montlake Community Center | 1618 E Calhoun St, Seattle, 98112
RSVP: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/235202
Free Parking | Directions

Questions? Contact us at info@slowfoodseattle.org. We look forward to seeing you!

My fish has issues; it’s complicated – Sustainable Seafood in a Multimedia World

By Amy Grondin

My Fish has Issues; it's complicated - Sustainable Seafood in a Multimedia WorldJoin Slow Food Seattle for My fish has issues; it’s complicated – Sustainable Seafood in a Multimedia World, a conversation with Chefs Barton Seaver and Becky Selengut at the Broadway Performance Hall on Monday October 17th from 6:30pm to 8pm. A cookbook signing and reception featuring Snoqualmie Vineyards, The Pike Brewing Company, and an oyster bar from Taylor Shellfish will follow from 8pm to 8:45pm. Tickets available now through Brown Paper Tickets, $12/pp.

It’s time to cut through the fog of confusion that surrounds choosing and eating seafood. Sustainable seafood can be enjoyed in such a way that our personal health and the health of the oceans are of equal consideration. There are lots of sustainable seafood options to be had but how do we identify them?

Becky Selengut and Barton Seaver

Becky Selengut and Barton Seaver

East coast meets West coast for this fun and informative sustainable seafood presentation with Becky Selengut, our own local fish whisperer, and Barton Seaver, who’s visiting from D.C. While cooking is a hands on activity that engages all your senses, these two chefs have also engaged their minds and ethics in the process without finger pointing at those of us who are still learning about sustainable seafood. We can benefit from their research and hours in the kitchen by reading the sustainable seafood cookbooks each chef released in Spring of 2011

The evening’s conversation will appeal to folks who receive their information in many different ways, from slow as the printed word to speedy as devices can deliver. As part of the presentation our chefs, led by edibleSEATTLE editor Jill Lightner, will talk about how technology allows them to engage with eaters who may be new to seafood and not necessarily cookbook readers who specifically sought out a sustainable seafood book. Love your smartphone? Smart and sassy blog and Facebook posts, Tweets, websites and YouTube videos by Becky and Barton are just a click away.

Or perhaps you would rather meander printed pages that are glossy with images of seafood briny and sweet from the ocean? A person can pick up either chefs’ cookbook and get the full story – recipes with a dash of science sprinkled in as seasoning. Pick up your copy of For Cod & Country, Barton’s cookbook or Good Fish, Becky’s cookbook after the presentation.

Good Fish   For Cod & Country

What might you learn from our chefs? Both Becky and Barton encourage us to eat a variety of fish besides the perennial favorites of shrimp, salmon and tuna.

Eating a variety of seafood protects the health of humans and fish populations. Creating a marketplace demand for many types of fish eases the pressure on the whole ocean food web by spreading harvest efforts over many species and not over fishing a one popular fish.

An example? Small silver fish – once popular, then over fished due to market demand but on the rise again – just might make it back to everyone’s dinner plate as Barton and Becky’s followers learn from reading a computer screen or a cookbook page about recipes that balance the fishes intense flavor so the rich, nutritional qualities of these environmentally friendly fish are enjoyed.

And in or out of a tin, we need to get over our national suspicion of small silver fish; they are delicious, not scary! Join us on Monday October 17th and we’ll talk about it.


Thanks to our event sponsor, Seafood Producers Cooperative for their generous support and also to our presenting partners: Readers to EatersSnoqualmie Vineyards, Pike Brewing Company, Taylor Shellfish, and edibleSeattle.

Seafood Producers Cooperative   Readers to EatersEdible Seattle

Snoqualmie Winery    Pike Place Brewery  Taylor Shellfish

Join Slow Food in September: Donate in any amount to become a member!

Join Slow Food USA

Slow Food is working to add more voices to our powerful network of changemakers demanding a just and healthy food system. From now through September 30, 2011, your donation in any amount this month makes you a member of Slow Food USA.

Membership donations are critical to this movement – 75% of the operating budget of Slow Food USA comes from charitable contributions from individuals just like you and me. These donations help the organization reach and educate new people, support local chapters in their outreach and projects, and lead national campaigns to improve food and farming for everyone.

Though there are a variety of membership benefits, the best part is knowing your contribution plays a critical role in bringing people together to plant gardens and share food, to support farmers and local food traditions, to teach the next generation about good food, and ultimately to transform food and farming in the U.S.


  • Help shape the direction of the slow food movement.
  • Receive invitations to attend local, national and international events and enjoy discounts where available.
  • Learn about opportunities to volunteer on local and national projects.
  • Your contribution – in any amount during September – makes you a member of Slow Food USA.
  • Your contribution of $60 or more also includes regular discounts on books, publications, and other products.

Join Slow Food in September!GET INFORMED

  • Learn about important national and international food issues.
  • Access exclusive online and offline content, including opportunities to communicate with leaders in the food movement.
  • Get tips on cooking, gardening, and “going slow”
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest food news.


  • Become a part of our active online community. 
Connect with people who care about slow food locally.
  • Join your local Slow Food USA chapter (that’s us, Slow Food Seattle!).
  • Get an exclusive Slow Food USA member card (with a donation of $25 or more).
  • Support a movement that is local, national, and global.


Vote with your Fork! Dine out for Bristol Bay September 5-9

Slow Food Seattle, Trout Unlimited together again in a command performance!

By Amy Grondin

September 2011 will mark the 4th year that Slow Food Seattle and Trout Unlimited will partner to raise awareness of Bristol Bay, Alaska, its pristine environment, hardworking people and wild salmon. In celebration of Bristol Bay’s salmon fisheries, 17 Seattle-area restaurants will proudly serve wild Bristol Bay salmon from September 5th – 9th. Dining out at one of the supporting restaurants is a delicious and easy way to say the future of Bristol Bay matters. Directly invest your food dollars in Bristol Bay’s sustainable salmon fishery by ordering a meal featuring wild salmon and show that it’s a wild food source that you value. Join us in the fight to save our nation’s last great salmon fishery. See below for the list of restaurants.

Were you a Slow Food Seattle member four years ago when we first decided to partner with Trout Unlimited in their Savor Bristol Bay campaign? Then you are familiar with the background details of the Pebble Mine issue and we thank you for being a part of the on going efforts to protect Bristol Bay.

If you are a new Slow Food Seattle member you may be asking, “Why do we need to save Bristol Bay and from what?” A quick primer on the issues follows but this link will satisfy those of you who want more: www.savebristolbay.org/about-the-bay/about-pebble-mine.

Dine Out for Bristol BayMultinational foreign mining companies are proposing one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines (known as the “Pebble Mine”) in the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s salmon-producing watershed. This is a wilderness gem that that contains some of the most productive wild salmon rivers left in the world. Thankfully the mine permitting process is years long and it has allowed for time for Trout Unlimited to inform the public on the issues.

If the Pebble Mine were to be permitted and allowed to open, the Bristol Bay watershed would be exposed to the persistent chemicals used to extract gold and copper from the mine site. These chemicals once used would be left behind as toxic liquid waste after the mine’s productive days are over, roughly in 50 years. Ten square miles of liquid waste in the resulting containment pond would be separated from Bristol Bay’s interconnected freshwater systems by earthen dams. A spill of the toxic waste or seepage from the containment ponds would irreparably harm the freshwater food web. Since everything returns to the ocean, the marine food web of Bristol Bay would suffer the same fate. Wild salmon play a central role as a keystone species that ties these two food webs together. There isn’t another fish to play this role if salmon don’t survive the good intentions of the Pebble Partnership.

Based on what we’re learned with recent environmental disasters, accidents are often not a matter of if, but instead when. Pick your disaster –a flood, maybe an earthquake? Both are a possibility in Alaska. Our best attempts to engineer our way around Mother Nature’s forces have not proven to be as successful as we had hoped in other parts of our nation. By the way, formal surveys show that 80% of the local population of Bristol Bay does NOT want the Pebble Mine for reasons such as these.

The loss of Bristol Bay’s sockeye would be truly disastrous for the dozens of Alaska Native communities that have caught wild salmon as part of a subsistence lifestyle in Bristol Bay for thousands of years. Bristol Bay Sockeye disappearing would also leave over 12,000 commercial fishermen and processors without work. The loss of Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery would also create ripples in the seafood marketplace as it is the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, contributing 40% of the world’s sockeye salmon supply. But there is still time to protect Bristol Bay before mining permits are issued.

This is where Slow Food Seattle members can help! It may seem insignificant to simply make a menu choice to battle a multinational corporation but trust me. It works. In the late 80’s tuna became “Dolphin Safe” because we didn’t eat tuna from un-dolphin friendly companies. Remember the Give Swordfish a Break campaign from the 90’s in which consumers successfully told the market place to change the way they sourced these mighty yet vulnerable fish? With your help in this new decade Trout Unlimited can do the same for the wild salmon of Bristol Bay.

So get out there next week and Vote with your Fork for Bristol Bay – smile and raise your glass to the table next to you that is eating wild salmon, too!

Seattle-Area Restaurants: September 5-9

Trout Unlimited Savor Bristol Bay