How To Be An Earth Mother

Great read

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Most moms-to-be avoid exposure to lead paint, skip alcohol and mercury-tainted fish and try to boost their consumption of organic foods. But as the aptly named Alan Greene, M.D., along with Jeanette Pavini and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo, writes in Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care, there's more to be done to protect mom, baby and—by extension—the earth.

Greene writes that one study of newborns' blood found 287 industrial chemicals. Most are known to cause developmental problems or cancer—a good reason to avoid prenatal chemical exposure. He also notes that nonorganic beef has been linked to male infertility and that nonorganic soy is the U.S. crop most contaminated with pesticides—bad news for anyone (meaning just about everyone) who eats processed foods that contain soy or soy oil.

The good doctor advises expectant parents to think hard before remodeling, citing exposure to toxic dust and the fact that new carpets release dangerous fumes for up to three months. He urges the use of greener versions of soaps, shampoos and lotions, and adds that plain water is best for cleaning newborns' skin. Finally, he explains how to choose energy-efficient appliances and make every room in the home as environmentally safe as possible. His book cites a few questionable statistics and contains some sloppy typos, but overall, it's eye-opening and empowering.

MOST VALUABLE TIP: Think of green parenting as synonymous with intelligent parenting. (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, $17.)

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