We live in a world of increasing concern for the harm we are doing to the environment, and therefore us. We can’t escape the constant news stories of new research on the adverse health effects of BPA, potentially harmful levels of arsenic in rice, or a new study that shows how pervasive chemicals can affect breast cancer treatment. We have “natural” chemicals that are harmless, benign, and ones that can poison. How do we navigate the difference when they are difficult to pronounce, spell, and remember?
We only have one life. Our children only have one childhood. How can we make sure they are as safe as possible while also enjoying this time? In other words, how do we stay sane while raising kids in the era of these difficult questions surrounding environmental and human health issues? That is what the book by Paige Wolf, Spit That Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt, seeks to explore.
Drawing on personal experience and conversations with parents all along the green spectrum and all concerned with their children’s health, Paige asks the questions many new parents (and non-parents) are thinking. Throughout the book there are special sections with parent-to-parent pointers, dollar-saving sustainability, and each chapter features green mom sanity tips that recognize we do not live in a green bubble and sometimes there are things we must let go of to maintain some sense of normalcy while striving for better.
“Must we be manic over organic?”
The enduring question that plagues any discussion of “going green.” It really depends on the reason why you would opt for organic food to begin with, but as Paige mentions, it is better to get your fruit and veggies any way you can. Many people do not have good access to organic produce. As a society I believe we owe it to those who need it the most, along with the farmworkers, to work for better access. Until then there is the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists that show which fruits and veggies are more likely to contain pesticides and which are least likely. When it is a choice, choose the path of least resistance. Patterns count.
“How concerned do we need to be about BPA–and how do we avoid it?”
What a hot button issue! BPA is pervasive, although because of parents and green advocates we are beginning to see some changes to where it can still be found. This is also an area where you really can make a difference in the body burden of your small ones: get rid of the plastic, never heat food in plastic, eliminate canned foods, and refuse receipts and other products made with BPA to name a few. Research indicates that reducing exposure to BPA and other similar chemicals also greatly reduces the amounts in our bodies, as well as continuing effects.
“What about the man boobs?”
Do you remember that study several years back linking lavender and tea tree oil to boys developing breast tissue? I did and immediately eliminated all bath products containing those ingredients. At the time, I was sleep-deprived and slightly neurotic, as many new parents are, and did not do my research into the study but relied on a sensational news story to guide my decision. It turns out the study’s conclusions were based on three, yes only three, boys. Hardly scientific proof of anything. Perhaps use caution? Maybe. But no reason to freak out. As in all things, the dose makes the poison.
Spit That Out! tackles important eco-issues in an approachable way. Those not versed in green living will find a great resource for changes you can make in your home to the benefit of your family’s health. If you are already a green maven, you will still find loads of information that you can use to tackle some of the larger issues within your home, town, and even country and world.