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Karen Stillerman

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About the author: Karen Perry Stillerman is an analyst and advocate for transforming the U.S. agriculture and food system to one that produces affordable, healthful foods for consumers; reduces air and water pollution; and builds healthy soil for the farmers of tomorrow. She holds a master's degree in public affairs and environmental policy. See Karen's full bio.

Building Healthier Food Environments: Seven Organizations Making a Difference in Minnesota

What will it take to transform the food system we have in the United States today—with all its misaligned priorities, junk food, and diet-related diseases—into a healthier one for all Americans? That’s the subject of “Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy,” which UCS will co-host with the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in Minneapolis on May 6-7. Read More

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Death, Taxes, and Food

The taxman cometh. At my house, the 1040 is signed and the check is written, joining millions of others in the mail this week. Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department reported that improvement in the U.S. economy is leading to rising revenues from federal taxes. But just what are our tax dollars buying? Read More

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Beet Still My Heart: A Valentine Message for the USDA

When I was a little kid, I loved those candy “conversation hearts” we exchanged on Valentine’s Day. I always wanted the ones that said “Be Mine” and (most exciting) “Kiss Me”. Those little treats are still fun—though they look a bit different today, emblazoned as they are with previously unknown sentiments including “Text Me” and “LOL”. But this Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking less about heart-shaped candy, and more about my actual heart (and yours), and what they need to beat long into the future. Read More

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How a (Farm) Bill Became a Law

Much has been written about the ugly sausage-making of the just-ended farm bill process: the abandoned opportunity to truly reform the nation’s farm subsidy system, the cynical refusal to deny subsidies to millionaire farmers, and the 4 percent of food stamp beneficiaries who ultimately took it on the chin. But now that President Obama has signed the thing into law, it’s worth reviewing a number of real and meaningful wins that UCS and its allies and supporters achieved in this bill. And also noting that our work isn’t done. Read More

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Why Support a Flawed Farm Bill?

After more than two years of twists, turns, delays, and unfathomable political machinations, the House of Representatives has just passed a new Farm Bill—that massive, 5-year piece of legislation that governs what our nation’s agriculture and food system looks like. This should be cause for celebration…but my reaction is much more tempered. As an advocate for a healthier, more sustainable food system, I like some pieces of the bill very much. As a person who thinks that no American in 2014 should go hungry, I also worry about some of its provisions. Read More

Categories: Food and Agriculture  

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Monsanto Supersizes Farmers’ Weed Problem

So now the Monsanto Company thinks its bad reputation with the public is primarily an air time problem. As the agribusiness giant’s Chief Technology Officer (and recent World Food Prize winner) Robert Fraley told Politico recently, Monsanto has been “absolutely riveted and focused on giving technology and tools to farmers to improve their productivity and yield and we haven’t spent nearly the time we have needed to on talking to consumers and talking to social media.”

Seriously?? Read More

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A Food Day Wish List: More Veggies, Less Corn

Okay, yes, sometimes corn is a vegetable. But most of the time, it’s something else entirely—highly processed corn syrup in a can of soda, for example, or a fast food burger made from a corn-fed cow. Sadly, today the average American is eating too much of those junk foods, and not enough fruits and vegetables. But while the impacts on public health are dramatic (see this recent report on the costs of diet-related heart disease, for example), that’s not the whole story. Read More

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Monsanto Scientist Pockets “World Food Prize”…But For What, Exactly?

At a glitzy awards ceremony this evening at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, three individuals will be awarded the prestigious World Food Prize. To the dismay of many, all three are experts on genetic engineering and pioneers of its early use in agriculture. Two actually work for agribusiness giants—Monsanto and its Swiss rival, Syngenta—that develop and sell this technology. Read More

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From New York to New Mexico, Modest Public Investments Support Healthy Food for All

In a recent post, I wrote about the health benefits—and attendant reductions in health care spending—that could be achieved if public policies helped all Americans to eat healthy foods instead of subsidizing ingredients for junk food. While data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consistently show that people in every state and at every income level are falling short of dietary recommendations for fruits and vegetables, low-income Americans have the steepest hill to climb.

They also have the most to gain. That’s why I was excited to learn recently about an innovative organization in New York City that is putting public and private funds to work to increase access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables for residents of some of the city’s most economically ailing neighborhoods. Read More

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The $11 Trillion Reward (Or, How Congress Could Improve Health, Save Lives, and Shrink the Deficit in One Easy Step)

It’s August in Washington, DC, and that means two things—the tomatoes at my farmers market are juicy and delicious, and Congress has cleared out and gone home. Both highly anticipated events, but this year, the two are linked in an unusual way.

You see, when Congress split last week, they left a critical piece of food and farm legislation to grow cold on their plate. And while you might think that the “Farm Bill” is mostly of interest to farmers, a new report unveiled by UCS this week shows that we all have a huge stake in what Congress does (or doesn’t do) with this legislation. Read More

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