Blast From The Past Gets New Touch

Posted: November 28, 2012

By The Book

Mother Earth News burst on the scene in 1970, the brain child of John and Joan Shuttleworth, who are said to have started it for less than $2,000 from their Kansas home.
They were betting on the “back-to-the-land” movement of the early ‘70s to propel their publishing venture. Their idea worked, in large part because they maintained a strict focus on practical, “do-it-yourself” advice, rather than chronicling the underlying political and philosophical processes at work.
As a result, their subscribers were all over the map: militant survivalists, environmentalists, anarchists and veteran farmers, as well as hippies.
If memory serves, early issues were rustic in appearance, similar to a farmer’s almanac, with many special editions focusing on single interests: gardening, resources, alternative housing, free energy; all printed economically and illustrated with amateur photos and drawings. The Shuttleworths kept their appeal broad by tapping into the wisdom of grandparents, as well as modern science.
Even after the idealistic decade disappeared, the magazine had its fans. Since the ‘90s, “Mother Earth News” has changed publishers a couple of times and now has a circulation of half a million, printed every other month. Mother Earth also has a web presence, with individual blogs dedicated to different interests.
Until I spotted an issue recently, I thought the magazine was a relic of the past.
Intrigued that this standard-bearer for rugged individuality was still around, I spent some time looking at the food-related articles brought to us by the Mother Earth website.
The website reflects the traditional philosophy of the magazine, appealing to the serious cook.
There’s an article about turning the last tomatoes lingering in the pantry into tomato preserves, several recipes for using shallots and a long article on accumulating and storing enough food for a year.
In honor of Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are a number of articles on choosing a heritage turkey, as well as cooking a completely vegan holiday meal. There’s another link to “Mother Earth Living,” which seems to be a kind of “Mother Earth Lite,” without the serious homestead skills assumed by the original site.
All in all, if you’re an experienced cook looking for challenges, go to, and click “Real Food” for adventurous cooking projects that should take you through a long winter.

Theresa Curry blogs about food, health and gardens at

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