Magazine Review: Mother Earth News

by Caroline Brown

I’m trying to find a few good gardening and/or environmental magazines to subscribe to–yes, the tree-killing versions–so I’m buying single copies here and there and checking them out. I thought that magazine reviews might be a good addition to the blog….I’ll evaluate the the things that I’m looking for as a potential subscriber: publisher, content, ads, website, and cost. My first review will be Mother Earth News, which bills itself as “The Original Guide to Living Wisely.”

Publisher. Most people might not care about a magazine’s publisher, but I’m much less interested in patronizing a giant publishing conglomerate, like say, Time-Warner-CNN-AOL, or whatever they’re called now, than Ogden Publishing, which publishes Mother Earth News. (Giant publishers are interested mainly in profits, which means the most important thing to them is their advertisers, not their readers. Big corporations cannot be trusted them to deliver news without a pro-business slant, and they support pro-business politics. Liberal media–hah!)

Ogden Publishing seems OK though. Nothing obviously evil about them. They publish several magazines on “self-sufficiency, sustainability, rural lifestyles, and farm memorabilia.” Did you ever sell Grit as a kid? Grit is from Ogden. Grade: B+

Content. “Mother” is the original “back to the land” magazine for 60s and 70s hippies who wanted to get off the grid. I’ve read some complaints that in the 80s and 90s, it evolved into a “yuppie liberal” rag, or even more pejorative…the mid-western version of Sunset (shudder). But, they seem to have gotten back on track from what I can see.

The magazine is focused on sustainable farming and living, although those of us with little gardens can still benefit from the articles. They also have a lot of articles on alternative energy, which makes me happy. (Because, as even King George has admitted, we are addicted to oil.)

The Feb/March 2006 issues has articles on organic pest control, how to grow onions, how to build livestock fences, natural diabetes prevention, straw bale building, and biodiesel, among many others. The editorial was an impassioned plea to abandon what it called “binge farming,” otherwise known as corporate agriculture. Grade: A

Ads. Ads abound for farmy-things like seed catalogs and tractors, and organic household products (like SwheatScoop, my kitties’ litter of choice!) And there’s a lot of ads for people that are building their own home–think yurts, log cabins, and solar homes.

There were a few of those disreputable-seeming full page ads with lots of copy–you’ve seen those ads for things like “reverse aging miracles” and “lose weight without even trying.” But, what’s more important is that I didn’t see any image ads for “big ag” or “big oil” companies–those ads where they claim how environmentally conscious they’ve become..blech. Magazines that take money from those guys are, well…just gross. Grade: B+

Website. Mother’s website is no-frills and offers a lot of advice and information. Only a few of the current issue’s articles are available online, but it looks like all articles go online once an issue is put in the archive. The archive goes back to Issue #1, from 1970.

Although I didn’t sign up, their community forum looks pretty cool. And Bryan Welch, Ogden Publishing’s editorial director and publisher started the Green Acres Blog in Dec. 2005. It looks like it could be good, but he’s only averaging one entry a month! Grade: A-

Cost. “Mother” is published 6 times a year and it costs $10/year, if you subscribe online using a credit card. Grade: A

Overall Evaluation. All the different grades probably average out to about an A- or so. Overall it seems like a really good magazine. I haven’t decided if I’ll subscribe yet…I have limited funds and can’t subscribe to everything. But, Mother Earth News does make the cut….I haven’t ruled it off the list. It seems like it would be a good magazine to get, especially if you live in a rural area (or want to).

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2 Comments to “Magazine Review: Mother Earth News”

  1. I am trying to find the plans for a window heat grabber, made from one sheet of rigid insulation. Can you help me

  2. What plant or plants could we use as a natural bug replent or firghter?

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