For all my bitching about the NYTimes, though, I have to say the front-page article on just how devastating E. coli is gave the food-safety movement a huge push forward, not least by showing exactly what paralyzed an attractive young dance teacher: a burger in a box with an enticing photo on it. Shades of “Food, Inc.” and how the label sends a farm-fresh message while the crap inside is literally crap. Why people buy that amazes me, but then I’m one of those absurd elitists who avoids even supermarket eggs because I know how they’re produced. And while this story was no real surprise to me, it did round up a surfeit of horrifying facts for the millions who are too busy drexting to pay attention to what gruesomeness they throw on the grill. My only quibble would be with the headline, which did not go far enough. The flaws are not in the inspection system. The dangers begin sooner and run much farther and wider. Just for starters, you can’t expect to have a slaughterhouse the size of four football fields processing 2,600 head of cattle in a day and not realize shit is literally going to happen. What’s most insidious is how the horror keeps hitting closer to home. Lawsuit-fearing fast food chains now must have higher standards than supermarkets, and of course the onus then shifts totally to the consumer. So kudos to the Times again, for making it clear you cannot wash bacteria off your cutting board or cook the crud away. Unfortunately, today everyone is righteously vowing to go vegetarian, but that won’t last. Beef is sacred. Everyone would always prefer to blame jalapeños or tomatoes rather than think about the ugly price of cheap meat. How soon till the next big headline, “Attack of the Killer Spinach”?