Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
Health-food guru Alice Waters, founder of Berkeley's eminent Chez Panisse restaurant, guides the food-focused Sept. 11 issue of the Nation. In the magazine's first food-centric issue, big-name contributors including Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, Vandana Shiva, Jim Hightower, and Winona LaDuke parse the problems in the world's food system. The essays paint a disturbing picture of the ways in which agribusiness and federal policy restrict our diets and dictate cultural attitudes toward food. Also on the menu: more detailed discussions of food activism, farming, Wal-Mart's organic move, and school lunches. -- Danielle Maestretti
Arriving none too soon, the summer issue of Always in Season has meandered into the Utne library. This edition of the quarterly newsletter created by Mama Donna's Tea Garden and Healing Haven is aptly dedicated to the sun -- that star so often associated with the gods throughout history for its omnipresence. 'Ritual Ragot' looks at sun worship and another piece examines 'sun science.' Also in this issue, Mama Donna Henes? provides an account of her surreal experience eating dinner in Sedona, Arizona, while watching a wildfire in the distance and viewing news of the same fire on CNN. Finally, an ode to the cucumber imparts methods for relief from the sweltering summer heat with recipes for a cucumber facial, soup, and drinks. -- Suzanne Lindgren
The newsletter Daughters was originally distributed as a complement to the girls' magazine New Moon but has grown into its own publication. Frank discussions of pressingly relevant topics make it a?rich resource for parents. The September/October issue advises moms and dads on difficult topics like talking with girls about weight, eating, and exercise in a culture with dysfunctional relationships toward all three; how to clue daughters in to marketing schemes that feed on insecurities and dictate desire in order to make a sale; and raising the issue of alcohol use with children of all ages. -- Suzanne Lindgren
Too often, environmental magazines can leave readers feeling guilty and unhelpful to our needy planet. Canada's Natural Life rescues us from our eco-woes in the September/October issue with an 8-page 'Good News' section. Highlights of current, positive, and accessible environmental change include short pieces on how recycling your old cell phone can help raise money for gorilla habitats, a new online database for gardening questions, and a unique coalition of the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. Elsewhere, Robin Eisman shows us how planting a new garden creates eco-habitats for displaced pollinators in need. -- Miriam Skurnick
The August issue of Urbanite, a monthly magazine 'for Baltimore's curious,' takes a shot at the difficult task of defining 'place.' For the etymological endeavor, writers share experiences like the adventures in street parking that afforded Bonnie J. Crockett the chance to meet some new faces in her neighborhood. There's also Melissa Faye Hess' visit to the disappearing Amish country and Marianne Amoss' 'favorite place to be,' MySpace. One of the most encompassing definitions comes from Steve Graham, founder of the journal The Cybercities Reader, as quoted in Elizabeth A. Evitts' editor's note: 'Place is about community and identity, it's about people's perceptions of who they are and where they live.' -- Rachel Anderson
In the September/October issue of Orion, the magazine takes on a topic that usually doesn't make it into the pages of environmental magazines: violence. '[T]hough many people know that war is among the worst possible things for the natural world,' the editors explain, 'landscape and violence are seldom part of the same conversation.' Whether it's the physical destruction visible in a post-Katrina Gulf Coast, or the slow devastation of the species-rich grasslands, Orion suggests humans and nature have been tangled in a brawl that's gone too far. Mark Kurlansky's feature, 'Nonviolence,' questions whether people are inherently violent, or just stuck in a history of conflict. 'What if we lived in a world that had no word for war other than nonpeace?' he asks. 'What kind of world would that be?' -- Rachel Anderson