I’m a writer.
I started at Women’s Wear Daily just after college. I hadn’t ever written or worked for a school newspaper. My mother pointed out to me shortly before graduation that writing had never felt like work to me. She was right. I saw an ad in The New York Times, got hired, and was on my way.
From there I covered parties then fashion for The New York Observer, food and guy stuff for Details Magazine, edited at (the short lived) Lifetime Magazine, did a little bit of everything at T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and, once I became a mom, was the kids’ editor at New York Magazine. In the decade plus since I started writing, I have also published articles in The New York Times, The Green Guide, Plenty, Cookie, Bon Appétit, Health, Vogue, Teen Vogue, Self, Child, Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar, TheDailyGreen.com, and The Hufﬁngton Post, among other publications.
I have my eldest daughter to thank for turning me into an eco-obsessed author. In 2005, when I was thinking about trying to get pregnant, a close friend asked me how I’d make the rest of my pregnancy as organic as the food I ate. (I grew up before there was such a thing as USDA organic, but we always ate whole real foods. Cooking and family dinner loom large in my childhood memories.) This remains, to date, the best question anyone has ever asked me.
At that point, I had no idea what organic might mean beyond food, especially during a pregnancy. I began researching and was horrified to discover that everyday products on store shelves—cosmetics, crib mattresses, toys, even things like paint, shower curtains, nail polish, and yoga mats—aren’t for the most part safe. I learned that consumers are pretty much guinea pigs, and that many of the harmful or potentially harmful chemicals found in these daily-use items are also found everywhere from cord blood to breast tissue. They build up in our bodies, and have been linked to all kinds of disorders and diseases. I discovered that while we’re surrounded by these substances in the modern world, there are simple, precautionary ways to minimize exposure to some of the worst offenders.
Though there are many great resources for people interested in how environmental factors affect our health—or environmental health—at that point there was no single, definitive one for pregnant moms. So, with the friend who posed the seminal question, I co-wrote The Complete Organic Pregnancy. An eye opening, amazing, overwhelming, and ultimately empowering experience, the book was published in 2006, shortly after my daughter was born.
I was hooked. My life’s work found me. As I moved past pregnancy and onto writing for anyone—pregnant or not—my focus remained environmental health. I continue to try to translate environmental health issues into accessible language, to help others reduce their exposure to harmful substances, as an editorial consultant to various businesses and organizations, as editorial director of Healthy Child, Healthy World, and in articles and books: The Conscious Kitchen (March 2010), a Books for a Better Life Awards finalist; Planet Home (December 2010); and The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat (June 2011). Though my commitment to writing easy, how-to information for the widest possible audience remains, I’m also working hard to let people know that we can’t and don’t live in green bubbles. My home may be as “pure” as I managed to make it, but my neighbors and their neighbors and the highway nearby and the factories down the road and the municipal wastewater treatment plant and the antibiotics in conventional livestock and so on still affect my so-called bubble. We are individuals, but we’re all inextricably linked. I encourage readers to green what lies beyond their front doors as well as inside their homes, to spread the word to their friends, family, and community, to join forces with organizations working to protect us and the world we share, and to ask their elected officials to get involved.
Since 2006, when The Complete Organic Pregnancy was published, I’ve had the considerable luck to talk about environmental health issues with a wider and wider audience. I’ve appeared on the Today Show (twice) and NPR, have done many local television and radio spots, and am regularly quoted in national and local publications and websites. DailyCandy.com dubbed me a “green goddess” and I was crowned a “green culinary queen” by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. My family has yet to let me live either down.
As I write my books and articles, I have added speaker and consultant to the mix of what I do. I give talks at mothers’ groups, law firms, schools, literary festivals and everywhere in between. I also advise companies and individuals alike on simple ways to green their businesses and lives. I do this all in New York City, though I should probably be on a biodynamic farm in Vermont or growing dill in Finland or something. I live across the street from where I grew up, with my (organic) family.