One of my assignments at MOTHER EARTH NEWS is to “clean up” some of the articles on the website — articles from the 1970s and ’80s that were not scanned accurately. Recently, I’ve been focusing on the Plowboy Interviews. These 90 articles, published from 1970 to 1986, are conversations with prominent, if not always well-known, individuals from every walk of life — science, agriculture, business, medicine, philosophy and more.
Many of the Plowboy Interviews are on controversial topics, such as population, which has recently been debated on the pages of the Mother Earth News magazine and on the website. Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, was interviewed in 1974. Paul and his wife, Anne, subsequently produced a column, Ecoscience, on current environmental issues for the magazine.
It seems that some readers believe we should honor the magazine’s sustainable-living roots and stay away from politically-sensitive topics such as population. What these readers aren’t aware of is MOTHER EARTH NEWS has reported on controversial topics since its humble beginnings in 1970 — the Viet Nam war, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Reagonomics (in fact all of the presidents have been mentioned in the magazine), economics, the national energy policy, pollution and nuclear proliferation. The magazine was considered one of the leading anti-establishment, pro-environment publications, offering alternatives to the status quo.
To learn more about the early history of the magazine and it’s environmental/sustainable living focus, check out The Story Of Mother Earth News from the 20th anniversary issue (March 1990). And search Plowboy Interview on the website to read the 90 interviews with people who had a profound impact on the country and the world.