E. coli can bear sweet fruit: When Washington State University decided to cancel a program requiring all freshmen to read the same book — this year’s pick was Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” — claiming budget constraints, many saw agribusiness pressure instead. One distinguished WSU alumnus decided to call his alma mater’s bluff. Seattle-based food-safety lawyer Bill Marler, who we affectionately like to call the “E. coli Avenger” around here (among other things), offered to pay the program’s estimated $40,000 shortfall. They folded. The 4,000 copies of Pollan’s indictment of industrial agriculture are on their way to all incoming freshmen at this land-grant institution. (New York Times) In 2007, WSU’s agricultural began offering the first organic farming degree in the US.