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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.

Drought Pits Big River against Big Ag

The ongoing Midwest drought has had many repercussions. They include the fact that the Mississippi River—sometimes called “The Big Muddy”—is muddier than usual this year, causing problems and massive anxiety about shipping on the river. Read More

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For Your Thanksgiving Pie, Make the Whipped Cream Organic (A Farmer Will Thank You)

What with buttery mashed potatoes, cheesy macaroni, and pies begging to be topped with whipped cream or ice cream, Thanksgiving turns out to be a pretty dairy-heavy holiday. Which makes the findings of our new report, Cream of the Crop: The Economic Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms, particularly timely. Read More

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USDA Says Organic Farming Worth $3.5 Billion…Happy Food Day!

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that the nation’s certified organic farmers enjoyed sales of more than $3.5 billion in 2011. On this second annual Food Day—a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, sustainable food—it seems fitting to highlight this “good news” story that hasn’t received much attention. Read More

Categories: Food and Agriculture  

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Crop Rotation Generates Profits without Pollution (or, What Agribusiness Doesn’t Want You to Know)

UPDATE: March 18, 2013, 3:15 pm: See bottom of post for an update on coverage of this story.

Big Ag has worked hard for decades to instill a belief—in farmers, policymakers, and the public—that its chemical-intensive industrial farming methods are more productive than low-input methods, and more profitable for farmers. In recent years, study after study has cast doubt on this view, and now a team of government and university researchers has published perhaps the most compelling data yet showing that more sustainable farming systems can achieve similar or greater yields and profits, despite steep reductions in chemical inputs. Read More

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Many Good Reasons to “Eat Local”

As an analyst and communicator at UCS, I know how difficult it can be to tell a complicated, nuanced story in our sound-bite-oriented media culture. So even though it was not totally surprising, it was still frustrating to find UCS’s position on the benefits of local foods mischaracterized last week in a USA Today article that called local food “trendy,” but asked whether it is “really more eco-friendly.” Read More

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How Congress Should Celebrate National Farmers Market Week

This week is National Farmers Market Week, and—no surprise to anyone who knows me—I marked the occasion over the weekend by visiting two farmers markets in and around my neighborhood in Washington, DC. The 14th and U Farmers Market and the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market are among the nearly 8,000 markets now operating in communities across the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which released the results of its annual farmers market census on Friday. Read More

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Monsanto Improves its Bottom Line…But Not Agriculture

The Monsanto Company is raking it in—last week they reported third quarter profits of $937 million. Yes, you read that right: Monsanto’s profit for the three-month period ending May 31 amounted to nearly a billion dollars, up a whopping 35% from the same quarter last year. That raging river of cash flowing in must make it easy for the company to finance a flurry of advertising and lobbying extolling the virtues its products. According to Monsanto’s PR, the company is feeding a growing population, protecting natural resources, and promoting biodiversity.

But the truth is decidedly less impressive, and now UCS is setting the record straight with an ad campaign of our own. Read More

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Ensuring a Healthy Harvest

Today I’m thinking about insurance. The point of having it is to protect the things we value most—like our health and our homes. But in U.S. farm policy, that logic has been turned on its head, and many of the crops we should value most are actually ineligible for insurance. Read More

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On Sandwich Cookies, Salads, and Subsidies

I just returned from another weekend in New York—as on the last trip, I did a lot of walking and eating.

One of my favorite discoveries this time was the Chelsea Market. One hundred years ago, this sprawling warehouse complex was home to the National Biscuit Company’s bakeries, and birthplace of the Oreo cookie. Today, it houses a wide variety of food purveyors, many of them focused on bringing locally produced ingredients to New Yorkers’ tables. Read More

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A Small Price to Pay to “Know Your Food”

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped nearly 900,000 seniors and 2.15 million WIC (Women, Infants & Children nutrition program) recipients to access fresh fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers at farmers’ markets in 2010? Read More

Categories: Food and Agriculture  

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