Book cover courtesy of Greystone Books. Photo by Ville Miettinen/Flickr.com.
I have to admit, I was drawn in by the title. But I would challenge you to find me one person who wouldn't want a closer look at a book titled: Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs?
So I flipped the book open, read the first page, and I was hooked.Robyn Harding's book is a hilarious journey through the trials and tribulations of going green in a modern world. The book touches on everything from litter-less lunches to worries over fostering eco-anxiety in children--plus a healthy dose of Harding's own anxiety over whether she is green enough to fit into her super-environmentally aware neighborhood, an area known as Kitsilano in Vancouver, Canada. Maybe Harding comes off as a little high strung, but who among us hasn't stressed over whether we fit in?
While the book is primarily a comical memoir of sorts, it offers up some great resources for readers. Harding includes the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables in a chapter on organic foods, muddles through the confusing world of sustainable seafood via SeaChoice, and references PETA's website, milksucks.com in a chapter on organic milk and dairy products. Harding. however, occasionally touches on issues without fully explaining them. When she mentions that the smell of shower curtains is caused by the off-gassing of "hormone-disrupting chemicals," she fails to mention this is an issue with vinyl shower curtains and that there are safe alternatives. And while a number of websites are peppered throughout the book, I'd have loved to see a section in the back that lists Harding's favorite resources so readers don't have to go back through the book to find all those URLs.
What makes this book most successful is that the "characters"--real life people, in this case--are not perfect. They struggle with the choices they make, and sometimes the environment takes a backseat to personal comfort or finances. Harding grapples with her environmental guilt on an ongoing basis but after one trip on the bus she decides she can't give up driving. And she loves to travel, so she buys carbon offsets (which presents a whole other list of issues: Which company is best? Why are the costs different?).
Even her children aren't sure they're willing to go green when it comes to things like toys, birthday parties and other quintessential childhood experiences. What kid wants less presents at Christmas? Or to ask for cash for their birthday--and then donate half to a charity? It's a tough sell, but somehow Harding manages to make it work. (How you ask? When her kids are less than thrilled at asking for cash for their birthdays, she craftily asks her son: "Do you really want eight little toys you'll be bored with in a month?" So he does the math: $10 from eight kids will mean $40 to his favorite environmental charity--saving tigers--and the remaining $40 will buy one great thing. Put like that, it's no wonder her savvy son went for it.)
Husband John seems to be the only person who doesn't suffer from eco-anxiety, but it seems like he keeps the family grounded. Harding and the kids can sometimes seem lost and overwhelmed in the technical details of issues. When the family can't see the forest for the trees, John often puts things in perspective with a quick comment or a pointed question. In many ways, he's the antidote to the eco-anxiety at the core of Harding's book.
::Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs? by Robyn Harding
More on Eco-Anxiety:
Dealing with Eco-Anxiety: Feeling Less Guilt, Being More Green
Eco-Anxiety on Planet Green:
Measure Your Eco-Anxiety Level
Green Glossary: Ecopsychology