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Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis Hardcover – Mar 29 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 29 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738213993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738213996
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #241,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Format: Hardcover
I was afraid this book would be a collection of sombre facts concerning the perils awaiting our children in a not so distant future. Not quite so. I'm impressed at how the auther weaves together fact and anecdote so that facts are tied to wisdom and thought. Instead of bearing on my shoulders more guilt and "things to do to save the planet", she takes into account the overwhelmingly busy rhythm of parenthood and - finally - the urgent need for helpful changes at higher levels than individual action. I'm really enjoying this book. So far (I'm on the third chapter) it really speaks to my mommy-heart; I'm learning a few facts concerning specific environmental dangers while digesting much organic food for thought.
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Amazon.com: 36 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Look at Environmental Issues Heart First April 3 2011
By June - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I should preface this to say that, usually, I do not read books about the environment. I do not let people tell me things that might scare me about what is happening in the environment. That said, I read this book, and I loved it. The reason why I love this book is because it came at me from the heart, and while the author engaged my heart, she then fed my mind what it NEEDS TO KNOW about the environmental risks of which we must be aware. I don't like reading statistics and pages of data and conclusions about science-y stuff. But while the author tells me about raising her children, and her whole-hearted effort to keep them safe, I am willing to hear the data that influenced her thinking. This is a book for those of us who are NOT the converted. I imagine, though I don't know this to be true, that many environmental books are written and then preach to the choir. I am not the choir. I don't wash my vegetables most of the time. I don't always buy organic. (Though, by the way, after reading this book I will do both of those things.) I'm saying...this is the book for the rest of us...not in the choir. It's beautifully written and engaging and careful and NOT hysterical and deliberate and lovely to read.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read! I couldn't set it down. March 30 2011
By Dad of Two - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sandra Steingraber is a voice of reason with strong fact-based arguments for strengthening our environmental protections to more adequately protect children's health. Using her own experiences as a parent she brings to life the dilemmas parents face trying to protect children from harms that are dispersed by industrial practices and chemical-intensive farming. A PhD scientist, she sources her material flawlessly, giving potent ammunition to those committed to help make our children's lives safer. She shows us that the potent hazards to children of lead paint were well known by 1936, 40 years prior to the US ban on lead paint was enacted in 1976. But more than just a historical work showing the alarming rise in pre-natal and early childhood exposures to a range of carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and asthma inducing substances; she shows us some parenting methods and grassroots activism to lead us towards a more healthy world for all children. This book is an inspiring call-to-arms which should rightfully be feared by chemical industry executives and Halliburton frackers looking to tear up the Marcellus Shale from New York to Ohio. As a parent of two young children I share Dr Steingrabers assessment that protecting my children is primary. I will be giving copies of this book to my elected representatives in the hope that it doesn't take another 40 years to implement policy that is clearly needed to protect children. Well worth reading and sharing with friends. This would be a good choice for book groups and for every school and community library.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Raising a Healthier Planet Dec 15 2011
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Part lyrical parenting memoir, part hard-hitting, meticulously researched advocacy, Raising Elijah is not a light read. But if you care about the health of our children and the planet that nourishes all of us, it's darn near essential. Just don't try to read it all at once. This is a powerful and empowering book: take it slowly and let Steingraber's facts and passion for a healthy world seep in and become part of your understanding; let them guide your daily choices in life.

In ten chapters Ranging from "Milk (and Terror)" to "Bicycles on Main Street (and Slickwater Hydraulic Fracking)," Steingraber takes an articulate and passionate look at the environment in which we raise our children. She covers PCBs and the effect of terrorist attacks on nursing mothers; arsenic in the treated wood of playground equipment; food choices and their effect not only on developing children's bodies, but on the world they'll inhabit as adults; PVC, asbestos, lead paint and other toxic building products; bats and our personal, everyday contributions to climate change; common neurotoxins (there are far more than you'll imagine) and their effect on developing brains; endocrine disruptors and children's genderedness; and fracking, the fracturing of shale layers (using toxic chemicals) to release trapped natural gas for our voracious energy consumption.

In one of my favorite chapters, "Pizza (and Ecosystem Services)," Steingraber considers whether organic food is really worth the extra expense to her household's meager budget. She analyzes the cost of the ingredients in her family's favorite meal: pizza (recipe included at the end of the chapter). Here's part of what she discovers about the cost of food:

Driven by concerns about childhood obesity, the high price of cheap food is currently receiving well-deserved attention. And therein lies growing public acknowledgement that the money we hand to supermarket cashiers is only part of the price we pay for a form of agriculture that makes a twelve-pack of Ding Dongs cheaper than a bag of apples. Not appearing on the cash register receipt that flutters from a bag of groceries are the costs of treating obesity-related cancers, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Right behind this critique lies another one: This same system of agriculture that fills store shelves with Ding Dongs requires pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to function, and this dependency, too, carries hidden economic price tags. These include higher utility bills triggered by the need to filter farm chemicals out of tap water; lost productivity caused by the pesticide poisoning of farmer workers; higher taxes to pay for elaborate systems to monitor pesticides; loss of revenues prompted by poisoned honeybees, contaminated sport fish, and closed swimming beaches; and higher insurance premiums stoked by antibiotic-resistant infections and increased cancers caused by a thinning ozone layer.

Considering all that, she concludes, "buying organic food is a good deal."

Each chapter begins and ends with a parenting vignette, and many of them are poignant, illustrating the clear-eyed wisdom of children, a powerful innocence we forget about--or dismiss--as we grow up. Steingraber uses memoir to introduce facts, and does it so effectively that the reader is sucked right in, regardless of whether we really wanted to know what she's going to tell us. That makes the book an instructive one for writers as well, especially those of use who tell life stories. How does she keep the balance between memoir and journalism? How does she make bad news lyrical and wise?

She does it by searching for the beauty in her subject, and being self-aware, as this response to an interview question shows: "I discovered that composing in the past tense offered me more flexibility to move through time and provide commentary on the action. The past tense is a roomier house. And we are a messy family."

Raising Elijah is ultimately a compelling and surprisingly hopeful work--one that will stick with you long after you've turned the final page.

by Susan J. Tweit
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A must-read for all parents July 9 2011
By NY Antonia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Raising Elijah" weaves intriguing personal stories with the latest scientific facts. Elijah's mom is a famous author, speaker, biologist and environmental activist who happens to "know too much" about the toxins we're exposed to everyday. How much does she tell her kids about that? What does she feed them? How does she manage to be a one-car family, and do more on foot, eat locally-produced goods as much as possible, and conserve energy? How does she balance traveling for speaking engagements with parenting? Every parent can learn a lot from this book: how to minimize your kids' exposure to toxins; how to balance work and family life when you work full-time; how to be a role model for civic responsibility and activism without making your kids feel TOO worried about global warming; plus get a clear bird's eye view, from a scientist's perspective, on pollution and how we can try to turn things around -- together.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Well researched and written, but just not my favorite Dec 12 2013
By whatever - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written, but I ran out of steam after a couple of chapters. I'm an environmental scientist, so perhaps it is just that I already had a pretty good grasp on the material, but I just lost interest. There were also some self-aggrandizing parts with which I had a difficult time. The author mentions she is a researcher for a Level 1 research institution several times; I suppose to give legitimacy to her writings. But she is not an academic and she's not publishing in peer-reviewed journals. That is not a problem, and I respect her work. She just seemed to overstate her position, and it wore on my nerves.

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