Raising Baby Green

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by Wendy Gabriel

This is the third and final installment of a three-part series. Read Part I. Read Part II.

If you were only going to choose a few organic foods, what would you Dr. Alan Greenechoose?

I have a top ten list in Raising Baby Green. Here are my top three:

1. Organic Milk
When you chose organic, you choose a green system and also gain a number of healthy benefits. A recent study showed that organic milk contains up to 80 percent more antioxidants and healthier fats as well.

2. Organic Potatoes
Potatoes grow under the ground, so when pesticides are sprayed, they don’t get directly on the potato, but they will get into the plant’s storage system. In USDA testing, after the potato has been washed and peeled, it has the highest average total of pesticides of any produce.

3. Organic Peanut Butter
Conventional farmers use fertilizers that heat the soil plus pesticides that kill other life in the soil, and those circumstances create ideal conditions for mold. These farmers address the mold by spraying cheap fungicides. But fungicides are some of the most toxic pesticides. They were the first group shown to cause multi-generational damage.

Organic peanuts have heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and are packed with antioxidants on par with blackberries. In addition, during the growing process, organic farmers encourage healthy soil that discourages the mold problems.

What was your inspiration for writing Raising Baby Green and your website, DrGreene.com?

As a pediatrician, I’m focused on the future. I play with and interact with the future every day. My awareness of environmental issues and my incorporation of greener habits has been a very long process, but it accelerated suddenly in 1996. That was the year I had both a new baby of my own and a serious illnesses in the family that was related to the environment. These changes made me stop and reevaluate everything.

I started writing about environmental issues centered around the family and children, and in 2006, I put everything together in Raising Baby Green.

What is the most recent green habit that you have adopted in your own life?

We have a new electric lawn mower. A conventional mower can produce as much pollution in 7 hours as a modern car driven for over 100,000 miles.

Is there a product or service that you wish were green but isn’t?

I wish we could have recycling symbol that would help parents identify healthy plastics for their kids. I would love to see a recycling symbol #8 for plastics that are bio-based, compostable, and don’t contain any known toxins.

Read more in the Four Questions series:
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part II
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part I
Four Questions with Adam Shake

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by Wendy Gabriel

What follows is the second installment of a three-part series. Read Part I.

Why did you write Raising Baby Green?Dr. Alan Greene

I wrote Raising Baby Green as a collection of techniques for changing the environmental reality for our children. When someone is pregnant or has a young child, she is uniquely concerned about the future. It’s a time of great change, and it’s the perfect time to consider changing even long-standing habits: more people quit smoking during pregnancy than any other time. Healthful habits established during pregnancy and early childhood can have the biggest impact. If they become aware of the importance of the environment to their children, even the toughest habits can change.

What does a pregnant woman need to know about environmental exposures?

The time before birth is a time of incredible possibility as well as potential peril. The babies are growing and learning so fast. At one point they make 100,000 new neural connections an hour. Pregnancy is also the time when a mother has the biggest control over her child’s environment.

I tell mothers that everything that affects your baby will come from what you’ve put into your mouth (food, beverages, medication), what you inhale (fumes), and what you put on your skin (shampoo, lotions, makeup). You can make a difference just by paying attention to those three things, maximizing positive and nurturing choices and minimizing unnecessary toxins.

What environmental exposure causes new mothers the most concern?

Of those three areas of exposure that can affect a baby, mothers are often most concerned about fumes because they feel that is the most out of their control. Studies show that by far and away the biggest exposures come from inside someone’s own home. I always let mothers know that choosing healthy household cleaners can make a big difference to their babies’ exposure to harmful fumes.

What is the most common question people ask when they know you’ve written Raising Baby Green?

When someone hears that I’ve written an environmental baby book, they always ask about diapers. In Raising Baby Green, I have lots of suggestions for making diapering better for babies and the environment. But to put it in perspective, whatever option you choose, the max environmental impact of all the diapers you use for a year is about the same as burning 54 gallons of gasoline.

Read more in the Four Questions series:
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part I
Four Questions with Adam Shake

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