Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs?: My Confused, Guilt-Ridden and Stressful Struggle to Raise a Green Family

Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs?: My Confused, Guilt-Ridden and Stressful Struggle to Raise a Green Family

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by Robyn Harding

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After moving to ultra-eco-conscious Vancouver, Robyn Harding vows to decrease the size of her family's carbon footprint. Ten-year-old Ethan worries about getting moobs from hormones in the food supply, so Robyn commits to buying organic. She quickly discovers that to keep the family in organic milk, she'll have to sell a kidney. Then, eight-year-old Tegan becomes


After moving to ultra-eco-conscious Vancouver, Robyn Harding vows to decrease the size of her family's carbon footprint. Ten-year-old Ethan worries about getting moobs from hormones in the food supply, so Robyn commits to buying organic. She quickly discovers that to keep the family in organic milk, she'll have to sell a kidney. Then, eight-year-old Tegan becomes obsessed with the diminishing polar bear population. Soon Robyn finds herself making litterless lunches, greening her home, and valiantly trying to de-commercialize Christmas and birthdays. To make matters worse, she befriends a three-children, no-car single mother who shuttles her offspring and their various musical instruments (including a cello) around by bike and trailer. Who can compete with that? Harding deals with the challenges of ethical consumerism with spirit and wit, pondering how far her family has come, how far they're willing to go, and whether she can go green and stay sane - and keep her kidneys.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.Novelist and columnist Harding (The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom) faces chagrin, one-upsmanship and the potential of a nervous breakdown as she strives to save the planet for her children-who, understandably, don't always appreciate her efforts. Resettling in Canada after an ill-fated move to Australia, Harding and family land in the trendiest, most environmentally correct part of Vancouver, B.C., where keeping up with the Joneses becomes, literally, keeping up with the Greens-Valerie Green, that is, who even shops for furniture with a bike and trailer. Harding recounts her search for sustainable mercury-free seafood, milk from genuinely happy cows, and chicken legs that once roamed free; as green birthday parties for her kids lead to green Christmas for the extended family (and increased household legume consumption gives way to increased methane emissions), Harding finds herself at odds with everyone she loves, including her own mother. Harding's sense of humor and keenly observed account of social mores in the new ecology will keep modern parents, especially those with opinions on the green movement, tickled throughout.
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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter Four "Keeping up with The Greens"

We'd only been living in Kitsilano for a few months when my children sought out the most environmentally conscious family in the known universe and made them their best friends. I will call this family "The Greens" because they are the pinnacle of greenness against which all other families are measured.

The Queen of Green (let's call her Valerie) is a single mother of three children. Now, if I were in her shoes, I would cut myself some slack. I'd probably feed my kids a lot of frozen pizza and send them to school with those prepackaged Lunchables. Okay, maybe I wouldn't go that far, but I would be tempted to cut a few environmental corners.

But Valerie Green is committed to doing her best for the earth, and she's not taking the easy way out. Most significantly, the Greens do not own a car. Valerie does all the grocery shopping (organic, of course) using a bike and trailer. All three kids play two musical instruments each and have a number of lessons throughout the week. Valerie shuttles the children and instruments to their lessons via bike and trailer or, in extremely inclement weather (like a blizzard), by bus. Did I mention that one of those instruments is the cello? Yes, the cello.

While I become exhausted just watching her, Valerie never complains. She hauls them to 8:00 AM dentist appointments by bike. To birthday parties and cross-town dance classes! In the rain! At night! She broke her foot last year and still, she never asked anyone for a ride. She never took a cab!

And the Greens eat all organic food. I'm not just talking about meat and vegetables here. I'm talking organic flour, organic spices, and even organic dairy (which costs about the same as eating Beluga caviar). Most of their diet is locally grown, too. Valerie has personal relationships with many of the farmers in the area.

Of course, the Greens are socially conscious as well. The children know a lot about supporting local industry and farming practices and fair trade goods. Frankly, I don't think it's normal for children that young to be that well informed, but that's just me. My daughter had the Green girls over one day, and was showing them the new shirt we'd bought for the start of the school year.

"I got this new shirt for school," Tegan said cheerfully. "It has stripes and I really like stripes."

The Green girls stared at the garment in silence. Finally, one of them said, "That shirt was made by child labor."

As my daughter's face fell, I had to intervene. "No, it wasn't," I soothed, while secretly wondering: Was it? It was awfully cheap. Was some five year-old being paid ten cents a day to sew Tegan's cute striped shirt? But could I afford to buy clothes that were made by an adult? A wave of guilt washed over me. Why hadn't I done some research into the store's manufacturing practices? I didn't deserve to live in this neighborhood! On this planet!

While I'm making a valiant attempt to be green, I can't help but feel inadequate when I compare myself to Valerie. Last summer, John and I went to The Superstore while our kids were having a play date at the Green house. "Don't tell Valerie that we were at The Superstore," I said as we drove to retrieve our children.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Well, because … we drove all that way just to get a hand blender. That's bad for the environment. Plus, we bought a bunch of other stuff that we don't even need, which is really consumerist. I don't know … I just don't want her to know."

"Okay …," he said, like I'd asked him to lie and say we'd been volunteering to read stories to blind kids.

Valerie Green would never overtly judge me, but I know I'm not living up to her standards. And she is not the only one. Despite my best efforts, Kitsilano is crawling with people who are so committed to the earth that they make me feel like a property developer in comparison. We live near Broadway, a beautiful street lined with vegetable markets, Greek bakeries and old, leafy trees. Unfortunately, due to poor sidewalk construction, the sprawling roots of these old leafy trees were buckling the pavement. The Broadway sidewalks had become like some kind of treacherous urban mountain range. One day, I'd seen an elderly woman trip on a jutting piece of concrete and fall to the ground. It was traumatic! Another time, a woman who dared to wear a bit of a heel on her shoe was felled as well.

"Damn sidewalks," she muttered, as she clamored to her feet. "They really need to be fixed." Eventually, when hospital emergency rooms were overflowing with victims of the Broadway sidewalks, the city got involved. They decided that the sidewalks had to be repaved. Unfortunately, they felt the easiest solution was to cut down all of the old, leafy trees.
I was walking my children home from school one chilly, rainy, miserable day when I was approached by a neighbor.

"Are you coming to the rally to save the trees on Broadway?" she asked.

I huddled deeper into my raincoat, trying to ignore the biting wind whipping my face. "Uh … when is it?"

"Tomorrow morning at nine A.M.," she said brightly.

I could not think of anything I wanted to do less, than stand around in the cold and rain chanting "save the trees" at nine o'clock on a Saturday morning. I did want the trees to be saved, of course I did. It would be a terrible shame if they were cut down. But was there possibly a warmer, drier way to save them?

"Do you think the weather will be like this tomorrow?" I ventured to ask.

"That's what the forecast says."

"It's just that I have a bit of a sore throat." I coughed lamely. "And I've got a lot of work to do so … I don't want to get sick."

She gave me a look that said: I can't believe you'd let a little rain and a sore throat keep you from saving the life of a beautiful, carbon-replenishing maple tree.

She was right. I was selfish to put my comfort above the lives of my neighborhood trees. I felt bad. I felt guilty. But I also felt cold and wet and I had a bit of a sore throat.

Thankfully, Kitsilano was full of people with bigger hearts and tougher constitutions than mine. They weren't going to let a little rain or the sniffles keep them from making a point. The city was not going to harm a leaf on those trees without getting a fight. And it worked! The Broadway trees were saved (except for six that weren't healthy and had to come down anyway).

Meet the Author

Robyn Harding is the author of four successful novels: Chronicles of a Midlife Crisis, The Journal of Mortifying Moments, The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom, and Unravelled. She has also been a contributing editor at Granville magazine, a lifestyle publication with a focus on sustainability. This is her first non-fiction book, and she is currently working on a children's book. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her light green family.

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Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs? My Confused, Guilt-Ridden, and Stressful Struggle to Raise a Green Family 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is a pushover
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That stupid kid
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What the fuk