You’re Sure You Want to Eat That?

You’re Sure You Want to Eat That?

A couple of weeks ago, the folks I follow on Twitter (a terrific bunch of CSR and social enterprise experts) were all abuzz about a New York Times article that told the story of a young woman from Minnesota. What was all the fuss?

Well, it turns out that this woman, 22 year-old Stephanie Smith, ate a bad hamburger – made from E.coli-laden beef – and it paralyzed her.

We’ve all heard about E.coli and the illness it causes, but Stephanie’s story was shocking in its seriousness. While her case is extreme, she’s actually just one out of tens of thousands of people who have been sickened by 16 different E.coli outbreaks in just the last three years alone.

In addition to the article, the NY Times made a 9-minute video that chronicles her story – although I wasn’t able to embed it here, you can visit their site and watch it yourself (I highly recommend it).

This story hit home for me on a few different levels.

On a professional level, I am very interested in sustainability and specifically the ways in which businesses can demonstrate their commitment to corporate citizenship through positive environmental action. Given the fact that livestock production is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America, I have spent quite a bit of time considering just how broken this system of production really is, as well as what can be done to reduce the industry’s environmental impact going forward.

On a personal level, however, food production is important to me because I want to be conscious of what I put in my body. Marketers know that consumers (especially those labeled “green”) are most concerned with products that go “in me, on me or around me” – and food definitely falls into this category. Thus I try to be as educated as I can about where my food comes from, and use my wallet to show support of businesses that operate in ways that align with my values.

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Ashley Jablow is a 2nd year MBA student, former nonprofit Fundraiser and Corporate Philanthropy Intern, and a motivated Changemaker.