A few years ago, I worked at one of those scrappy neighborhood news websites that was supposed to be the future of journalism. (I don’t know if it was the future of journalism. It was certainly a future of journalism.) We rode our bikes to crime scenes and wrote stories about which local developer was having problems with the planning department, which local restaurant had rats. It was very 19th century in a lot of ways.

In one project, we collaborated with a local research university’s investigation of the giant hairball of research that is multiple chemical exposure. They were trying to translate that research to a wider audience — specifically, women who were about to have babies. The public health outreach workers would write what we hoped would be fun, informational articles. I would edit them.

Then the op-eds began to trickle in. In the same way that all fairytales share certain essentials, the op-eds all boiled down to a single narrative: That thing you think is OK? It’s bad for you.