News From Mother

September/October 1977


There's little need to tell you (after all, you are reading MOTHER!) that a great many people today are [a] interested in living more self-sufficient and self-reliant lives and [b] concerned about modern society's continuing rape of the planet.

THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS®, as you know, was expressly founded to search out and publicize ways [1) in which all we "little guys" can take control of our individual lives back into our own hands while [2] exploring energy, construction, gardening, recycling, and other ideas that will allow everyone to live more lightly on the earth.

And as you may or may not also know, a considerable number of what we think are the finest people who ever lived (youse guys out there who read this sheet!) have thrown in with us on this search. MOTHER NO. 47 (this very issue), for instance, had a press run of 550,000. And since (unlike most other magazines) we don't print 'em unless we already know where they're going (it saves a lot of trees that way) . . . and since we know that approximately 4.8 people read every copy of MOTHER that does get printed ... this means that 2,640,000 of you good folks "out there" have now bitten off at least a small corner of the quest we embarked upon eight years ago.

But what kind of folks have you crawled into bed with anyhow? Sure, you know why you read a publication with the crazy name of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS' ... but what about the other 2,639,999? Are they all "little old ladies in tennis shoes"? Unwashed "dropouts"? Anti-this or anti-that nuts of some kind? What sort of people read THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS' anyway?

Well, we've been asking ourselves that same question. So we recently had Don Bowdren Associates, a research organization that specializes in such work, to conduct a survey for us. We figured that we'd be able to do a much better job of editing this magazine for you . . . if we knew exactly who you are. (After all, the things that vitally interest 20-year-old university students don't necessarily interest 35-year-old back-to-the-landers or 72-year-old retirees.)

We found the results of that survey to be very interesting. Because-no matter what the "dig we must, nuclear power is inevitable, business as usual" vested interests may claim-today's environmentalists (or at least MOTHER's share of the growing crowd) are definitely not the unwashed, unschooled, emotional, starry-eyed idealists who "would rather save wildlife than jobs and don't understand the real needs of our society anyway".

Quite the contrary. A scientific sampling of MOTHER's audience (that's you!) shows you to be overwhelmingly well schooled, well cultured, and levelheaded "backbones of your community". And, although you most certainly do have a genuine appreciation for many of the material goods that our society offers . . . you also have the adult judgment and maturity to forgo some of those same material goods when you can see that such action is in the better interest of the planet and unborn generations to come.


MOTHER's readers are 52% male, 48% female, and have a median age of 32.6. You're 59% college educated, 18% of you have done postgraduate work, and you have a median income of $18,000 a year. Only 5.1 % of you live in households which had total pre-tax 1976 incomes of less than $5,000 ... whereas a full 9.4% of you reside in households that had total pre-tax 1976. incomes of $35,000 or more. (So much for the quaint myth about the typical MOTHER reader who lives in the woods and eats only berries.)

Some of you (4.9%) farm for a living, some of you (2.3%) are students, some of you (13.7%) are craftsmen or -women, some of you (9.7%) manage things, some of you (5.8%) operate machines and work as unskilled laborers, and some of you (3.7%) work in sales. Some of you do a lot of other things. But the almost unbelievable fact about the occupations of MOTHER's readers is that an incredible 35.9% of you are professional, semi-professional, or technical people ranging from chiropractors to college presidents to musicians to surgeons to lawyers to dental technicians to athletes to librarians to architects to physicists. In general, you're a pretty clever bunch of individuals!

And you're just as clever around the house as you are on the job. A full 86.7% of you spend an hour or more every week (some, as much as 35 hours or more) working on home improvements and repair projects. Arts and crafts also engage 79.3% of you an hour or more every week and a whopping 88.7% of you spend at least some time each week furthering your education. You sew (58.9%), knit or crochet (41.9%), do needlework (41.5%), do macrame (30.6%), quilt (21.1%), make candies (18%), make rugs (15.6%), do ceramics (14.8%), make jewelry (11.4%), and work leather (10.9%). You personally change the oil in your vehicles (79%), change the oil filter (77.5%), do minor tuneups (70.6%), and handle your own car or truck suspension modifications (22.7%).

An impressive 92.7% of MOTHER's subscribing households are concerned by the presence of chemical additives andlor preservatives in their food. And, not surprisingly, 86.3% prefer "organically" grown foodstuffs. Which probably is why 82.5% of you grow part of the food you eat, 86.2% of you preserve some part of what you eat yourselves by freezing, 62.5% of you preserve part of your food yourself by canning, 21.8% by drying, 15.7% in a root cellar, and 8.4% of MOTHER's readers preserve at least some of the food they eat by smoking it themselves.

TV viewing may be up substantially across the country .. . but not for MOTHER's readers. In fact, 6.7% of you say that you don't watch television at all, another 9% watch less than an hour a week, 42.8% watch only one to seven hours a week, 29.6% watch eight to 15 hours, 8.8% 15 to 25 hours, only 1.8% watch 26 to 35 hours, and just 1.3% watch over 35 hours of TV a week.

Maybe that's because you read so much: 78.6% of you purchased three or more (some, 50 or more) hard-cover books during the past 12 months and 87.7% of you bought three or more (again, some as many as 50 or more) paperbacks during the same period.

Or maybe it's because you make a lot of your own entertainment: 26.5% of you play the guitar, 25.8% the piano, 12.8% the harmonica, 10.5% the organ, 10.2% the recorder, 5.2% the clarinet, 2.9% the trumpet, 1.9% the violin, and 16.5% some other musical instrument. Your tastes, by the way, run to rock (44%), country (44%), popular (39.2%), classical (33%), and other (31.4%) music.

Then again, maybe you don't watch much television because you're too busy with your outdoor and sporting activities: 48.1 % of you hike, 41.3% camp, 40.1 % swim, 39% bicycle, 35.7% fish, 27% boat or canoe, 19.2% hunt, 17.1% play tennis, 15.3% bowl, 13.8% ski, and 8.6% play golf.

Despite all these activities and despite the fact that you certainly have the money for travel, you're real homebodies: Only 23.3% of you hold valid passports and you don't actually travel a great deal or move around as much as you're "supposed" to in our modern mobile society. A goodly percentage of you (76.4%) own your own home or grounds and that property ranges in value from less than $10,000 (4.5%) all the way up to $100,000 or more (6.3%). The median value of your home and grounds, by the way, is $39,600 and 14.6% of you live on a farm or ranch, 21.3% on a rural homestead, 20.7% in the suburbs, 21.7% in a town or village, and 22.2% in a city. A total of 45.7% of you own one acre or more and 14% own 25 acres or more.

You own sewing machines (83.2%), blenders (79.8%), clothes washers (77.3%), clothes dryers (67.1 %), freezers (52.5%), chain saws (45.8%), dishwashers (39.2%), tillers (29.2%), wood stoves (28.5%), juice extractors (17.4%), farm tractors (13.3%), garden tractors (12.3%), and grain or flour mills (10.2%). A few of you even have food dehydrators (4.9%), cider presses (4.5%), and solar cookers (0.7%). It's interesting, too, that 17.1 % of you have added wood-burning stoves to your houses during the past year, 1.3% have added solar panels, and 1.2% have installed heat pumps.

Despite the fact that 93.6% of you MOTHER readers say that environmental impact and gas consumption will be considerations in the purchase of your next vehicle you-like most folks living in today's society-are locked into perhaps a greater dependency on the automobile than you'd like: only 4.9% of you own no car at all, 32.2% have one, 41 % two, 14.1 % three, and 7.8% four or more. This is in addition to the fact that 40.4% of you own a pickup truck, 10.8% a van, and 7% a 4-wheel-drive utility vehicle. And even though you consume a lot of "organic" and "health" foods, you do drink alcoholic beverages too: domestic beer (63.8%), domestic wine (60.2%), imported wine (27.9%), vodka (24.6%), bourbon (24.1 %), scotch (20.9%), rum (17.7%), and so on. It should be noted, however, that 19.6% of you do not drink at all.

Your favorite MOTHER features, in descending order, are Energy Flashes, Country Lore, News From Mother, Bits and Pieces, Dear Mother, Economic Outlook, Newsworthies, Bootstrap Businesses, Swaps, Mother's Calendar, Profiles, Successful Swaps, Last Laugh, Positions and Situations, and Access. As a result of reading this magazine, 62.8% of you are considering alternative sources of energy, 52% have started or improved an organic garden, 50.7% have tried recipes printed in MOTHER, 34.8% have investigated low-cost construction ideas, 33.3% have tried a new art or craft, and 30.9% have supported recycling programs.

In short: You're a well-educated, well-em. ployed, active, intelligent, mature, trustworthy bunch of people who aren't afraid to stand up and be counted when it comes to "odd" things like alternative sources of energy, organic gardening, and recycling. We're mighty pleased to know you a little better and we're just awfully danged proud that you read THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS.