We all have to pick our battles. And parents, especially, have only so much capacity to tackle political, social, environmental and technological issues while also raising the next generation. But an issue that impacts us all, whether we fight it head-on or experience the potential repercussions later, is the amount of chemicals we are (often unknowingly) exposed to daily.
From preservatives, flavorings and fragrances to pesticides, plasticizers and flame retardants, more than 85,000 synthetic chemicals show up in the various products we handle, consume and live with, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
That statistic alone (plus the fact that most of those chemicals didn't exist or weren't around in large volumes just a few generations ago) is enough to overwhelm anyone. If only there were someone who could break down this issue for us, and help us understand where and how these chemicals are entering our lives.
Take a sigh of relief and welcome our hero, Leah Segedie. She's a mom on a mission to help you green up your home without turning into a fanatic who loses all her wits (and her friends).
The author: Those who know Leah Segedie describe her in ways, such as "a force to be reckoned with," "brilliant," and "bold." Indeed, just a few pages into her book and Leah will have you fired up, shaking your head and muttering WTF as she highlights injustices that have resulted in our current chemical-laden condition. Leah is the CEO of the eco-wellness conference ShiftCon and the founder of mamavation, a family wellness blog that attracts and encourages thousands of moms to detoxify their lives and the lives of their children.
Initial impressions: Leah is pissed off. There's no warm-up. She cuts right to the chase and she swears. She calls out public enemies by name and she drops science nuggets like a toddler drops chicken nuggets. And I like it. She also speaks from the heart, and it becomes quickly obvious that this is one mama who has done her research, consulted the right resources and is relentless in her passion to help you make better product choices. But it's also immediately apparent that Leah can find humor in the chaos and is a friend who understands the realities of your busy life. Making cleaner, greener choices for your family and home is not about being perfect. It's about being green enough.
What’s cool: While it's packed with content, this book is a quick read. And that's by design. Leah gives you context while also cutting the clutter … because she knows you're busy (thank you, Leah). She provides quick lists to help you decipher marketing mumbo jumbo from real clues that can lead to better product choices. Not only does she help you understand food choices (the infographic above is a cool visual map to the labels you'll see on meat and dairy packages, for example, and which labels and certifications are meaningful or not), but she tackles cookware, storage containers, household cleaners, fragrances and even grooming products.
Perfect for: New moms and growing families / Homeowners / Green-living enthusiasts / Those new to the green scene
Sneak-peek recipe: Leah's book also provides recipes to help you transition into a cleaner, greener way of eating at home. Her advice: Take it slow. Positive transformation is gradual. Her recipes for the basics (salad dressing, dips, condiments, vegetable side dishes, soups) make you realize how easy it is to prepare these staples at home, which is an easy way to eliminate chemicals that show up in some of these conventional products. But she also shares recipes for simple homemade dinners, that are balanced and delicious, such as this one, which we reprint her with permission from the author.
Avocado oil or ghee, as needed
1 cup sauteed greens, chopped small, or 2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup cooked farro
2 cups roasted tomato sauce
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
8 large eggs
Fresh grated Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese
Chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1. Set a large (minimum 10-inch), deep ovenproof skillet over medium heat and drizzle in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan when you tilt it side to side a couple times.
2. Add greens and cook until warmed.
3. Stir in farro and heat until warmed.
4. Stir in the tomato sauce and bring mixture to a steady simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low (just enough to keep the sauce at a gentle (not splattery) simmer.
5. Press the back of a spoon into the sauce to make as many divots as you have eggs to cook. One at a time, crack each egg into a small bowl, then slide it into its very own divot in the sauce.
6. Cover pan with a lid, leaving it a bit askew to allow steam to escape, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or just until the whites are firm but yolks are still nice and soft (keep a close eye on it or you'll end up with hard-cooked eggs, which isn't terrible, but IMHO is also nowhere near as yummy as soft and tender eggs).
7. Scatter Parmesan and parsley all over the eggs and sauce; grind on some more black pepper. You can sprinkle a teeny bit more salt onto each egg (your call). use a large serving spoon or ladle to scoop eggs and sauce into shallow bowls. Serve hot.