Book Review: Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt

Picture this.  You’re standing at the produce section, flummoxed.  Before you are the apples—piles of local, conventionally grown ones, next to plastic wrapped, organic ones from New Zealand, next to conventionally grown (and cheaper) big bags of apples.  You stand, frozen, weighing your options:  local?  Organic?  Cheapest?

Or you are trying to figure out how to pry that toxic toy out of your child’s hand—you know, the one your mother in law, uncle, grandmother (or fill in the blank) gave your child that she LOVES.  Of course, though, it is filled with BPA, lead, phthalates, cadmium, or some other toxin.  And now you have to be all Rambo, ducking into her room while she is sleeping to take the toxic toy away.  Or, if you have an older child, you will have to explain why he or she can’t have it (fun!).  What do you do with it once you the blasted toy?  Do you throw it away, polluting the landfill?  Do you pass it along, to exposure another child?  There are no good choices.

Welcome to eco-paralysis.  Paige Wolfe knows all about this.  She’s written a book called Spit that Out:  The Overly Educated Parents Guide to Raising Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt.

In this book, you’ll find parents trying to make these key decisions about what their children play with, eat, and drink.  Often, they find conflicting information.  Paige tries to help us wade through many of these difficult issues to find out what works for us.  In doing so, she gives parents validation, empowerment, and certainly solidarity.  By acknowledging that making these decisions is often overwhelming, she begins each chapter with a sense of humor, and proceeds with empathy and encouragement for parents.  The quotes she selected to begin each chapter are hilarious.  Then she takes us through other parent’s perspectives, hearing their struggles and their ultimate decisions.  Paige herself cites important data, seeking the tired parents overview of a topic that can inform and clarify often-complicated issues.  Speaking of time crunched tired parents, each chapter ends with Green Mom Sanity Tips, which are basically an overview of each chapter.

You may not agree with all of the perspectives, of course, as we all parent differently, and take these issues on the best we can.  But it is nice to hear from parents making all these decisions, and doing the best they can.   You’ll find your place on the green parent continuum, and hopefully find company.  Paige seeks a balanced approach in each chapter of view points, and she seeks experts with realistic, doable, opinions and steps.

Spit that Out gives overwhelmed, frustrated parents a chance to feel support, guidance, empathy and companionship as they wade through the difficult and always changing information about how to best parent our children.  The point is, she and several others in the book say, is that we are all working to live a more sustainable, safer and healthier lifestyle in as many ways as we can without driving ourselves (and our families) crazy.  At least, hopefully, most of the time!

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