Karen Perry Stillerman

Senior analyst, Food and Environment

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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.

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Trick or Treat? 5 Ways the USDA Secretary Has Pranked Us

It’s fun when little kids put on costumes and pretend to be things they’re not. It’s less fun when high-ranking government officials disguise their true identities and intentions. The Trump administration is rife with officials who pose as public servants but are actually swamp creatures—doing the bidding of various industries, lining their own pockets, or both. It goes right up to the top. But the official I want to talk about during this week of masks and disguises is the administration’s Secretary of Agriculture. George Ervin Perdue III goes by the folksy nickname, “Sonny.” And that’s just the beginning of the façade. Read more >

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As Presidential Candidates Prepare for Ohio Debate, Farmers Need a New Vision

It has been a very bad year for Ohio’s farmers. Across the state, they were unable to plant crops on nearly 1.5 million acres this past spring due to unrelenting rainfall and flooding. The Buckeye State has also been hard-hit by the Trump administration’s trade war, with the price of soybeans—Ohio’s most financially valuable agricultural commodity—plummeting. At the same time, intensive commodity farming has taken a heavy toll on the state’s water resources. And growing just one or two crops, as many Ohio farmers do, leaves them and our food supply vulnerable in an erratic climate future. But changing the way farmers do business—starting with their soil—can help solve all these problems. And when the fourth Democratic presidential debate kicks off in Westerville, Ohio on Tuesday, it sure would be great to hear about the candidates’ plans to make healthy soil a reality. Read more >

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That Tasty Chicken Sandwich Is Brought to You by a Stomach-Turning Industry

This was the summer of chicken. America’s favorite fowl made frequent headlines, though one story claimed much of the public’s attention. I’m talking, of course, about the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019, in which giant fast-food companies battled to sell ever more deep-fried mass-produced industrial chicken breasts to the public. It was entertaining, I guess…until it got crazy.

But the sandwich frenzy may have crowded out more important chicken-related stories.

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Photo: UCS

Trump Administration’s Attacks on SNAP Hurt Farmers and Rural Areas

Sonny Perdue’s latest regulatory attack on SNAP is full of dishonesty, denialism, and downright cruelty. If enacted, it would take food off the plates of $3.1 million low-income people, there’s something else. Secretary Perdue’s proposed SNAP cuts would hurt the very people he calls his “customers”: farmers and rural communities. Read more >

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How Cereal Companies and Consumers Can Make Breakfast Better

What’s for breakfast? Maybe it’s a bagel and cream cheese, or toast and coffee, or eggs (or not). For millions of Americans, though, cereal is a breakfast mainstay. There’s a mind-boggling array of ready-to-eat cereal brands on offer, and everyone has their favorites.

But what really goes into your cereal of choice? What impact does that have on the planet? What can cereal-makers—and those of us who buy their products—do to lessen that impact? These are questions UCS asked in a new report, Champions of Breakfast: How Cereal-Makers Can Help Save Our Soil, Support Farmers, and Take a Bite out of Climate Change.

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