A short stroll down any grocery store will show you how our nation has changed its thinking of food in the last decade.
Where only price tags used to be shown on shelves or products, now you see labels such as "organic", "vegetarian", "gluten-free", "vegan", "lactose-free" etc.
But few look back as to the catalysts that changed the way we think about how what we eat can affect us long-term.
This book is about one of those catalysts.
Although it reads like a story of a court case and victims and all the things you might get in some fiction best-seller, it's actually fact and based upon an amazing amount of research by the author as he put himself right into the scene and in personal contact with all those who were part of the events in 1993 stemming from poor food practices by Jack In The Box that led some pretty dramatic events.
In 1992 Jack In The Box was one of the top fast food chains. Parents didn't think of fast food quite the same as they do today...food additives and preservatives were also not on the forefront of discussion in supermarkets and there was an astonishing lower amount of vegans and vegetarians and all-natural groceries when compared with today's numbers although the movement was on the rise. (This book isn't about vegetarians or meat since you can get E Coli from veggies as well. But what happened did create a sharp rise in the movement and help it gain momentum.)
In 1992 a Seattle child bit into a meal that changed her family's life forever from a Jack In The Box bag. 750 other people were determiined poisoned shortly thereafter from the same cause. 4 died.
A deadly strain of E Coli bacteria that spread through undercooked meat.
That may seem a small story to base a book upon but it's anything but.
In fact, I picked up this book thinking it was about food additives or pesticides or preservatives. I kept reading it even after I found that the subject wasn't that at all-- simply because it really is a STORY with loads of twists and turns that make it hard to put down. So I bought it.
It's a story of a financially floundering and unknown lawyer who wanted to do the right thing for a victim who was up against one huge character of a lawyer hired by a corporation giant.
As you may recall from the news, the case resulted in the largest financial damages claim ever awarded in the state's history for personal injury.
It is a book that puts the reader squarely in front of the victims who fell ill, and the families of those who passed away, as they were all interviewed along with the corporation representatives, the doctors...everyone involved so it doesn't feel like you are reading a news article but are there understanding each aspect, and even the emotions involved.
4 people died during this outbreak of the 750 horribly ill from poisoning. Parents looked at food differently as food poisoning was no longer something you "got over" in a day or two. This was suddenly a scary demon that could enter your house without warning set to kill in the worst way according to these details.
Did Jack in the Box know the state of Washington had enacted a law that was even higher than federal regulations for cooking meat a year before the deaths in Washington from this undercooked meat occured?
How did the poor management of slaughterhouses and meat distribution create a runaway train of E-coli?
And what of that ill-timed slogan Jack in The Box unfortunately claimed that year: "So Good It's Scary"?
This isn't about meat vs. vegetarian. This isn't about doing away with fast food. This is simply the story of something that has more twists than a spider web that lead to more best sellers and eye openers like Fast Food Nation and the organic movement and suddenly questioning authority and corporate giants of food manufacturing.
It was a scare that even brought about human-grade meat being used in some dog food brands.
Bill Marlar, the young lawyer, had his life changed by fighting for food safety in this novel. Now sporting a humble car with plates that read "ECOLI" he is a prime player in the book and takes us all on a ride that is actually surprisingly awakening yet interesting all the way through.
Overhear someone trying to order a rare burger anywhere like you could for decades prior at an easting establishment now and you'll realize one event can change a nation forever. But there are far more tidbits to the story than simply menu changes.
And that's what made it so interesting.