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Utne Reader’s Most Popular Blogs of 2011

We at Utne Reader sift through 1,500 periodicals, skim hundreds of websites and blogs, and clamber over a mountain of new books to present the best the alternative press has to offer. Unfortunately, the magazine we deliver is only about 100 pages long, so we can’t reprint all of the fresh ideas, deeply-reported journalism, and vivid portraits that we read. Thus, we blog. The following five blogs were your favorites from 2011.

5) “A New Peace Symbol” by David Schimke 


Sometimes, short blog posts are the best. That was the case with Editor-in-Chief David Schimke’s hat-tip to the new international symbol for human rights. An excerpt:

4) “Organic v. Monsanto” by Danielle Magnuson 

Farmers Market 

How many organic farmers does it take to fight against the biggest food corporation on the planet? Turns out, about 270,000. Associate editor Danielle Magnuson reported on the legal suit filed by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association that aims to take sustainable farming back into the hands of the those that work the land. An excerpt:

3) “The Meditation Makeover: Before and After” by Margret Aldrich 

Before and After 5 

Could you pick out someone who just meditated if they passed you on the street? You’d want to look for a calm countenance, wide eyes, and an absence of tension. Although contentious, the images from the “Before and After” project seem to speak for themselves.

2) “Militarized to its Bones” by Tom Engelhardt, from TomDispatch 


Our small staff covered the Occupy Wall Street movement to the best of our ability from 1,000 miles away. Sometimes, though, we needed to rely on the perspective of writers a little closer to the action. Outspoken and adversarial progressive Tom Engelhardt was reporting on the ground through OWS’s growing pains. An excerpt:

1) “‘Cows Eat Grass’ and Other Inflammatory Statements” by Keith Goetzman 

 Swiss cow 

This was a slow-burning blog, as senior editor Keith Goetzman actually wrote it in 2010. But the story of the agriculture expert whose seemingly-simple statement that “cows eat grass” did more than chronicle an unbelievable hubbub in Iowa—it exposed the depth of Big Ag’s entrenchment. An excerpt: