Breaking Habits is Hard to Do

Whether eating, exercising, or something else, it’s hard to change the routines we’re used to.  But humans are adaptable.  We can adjust to practically anything, and this is great news when it comes to changing habits.  As I learn more about global climate change, it’s clear that a LOT of us need to change our habits.  I’m working on making changes myself- turning off water while soaping up dishes, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store and mall, refilling my water bottle, bringing reusable containers to restaurants, etc.

But having good intentions doesn’t make it easy.  I remember suggesting to my mom that she reuse produce bags instead of recycle them.  She agreed that it was a good idea, but explained that it was a habit she didn’t want to change.  “It’s just one more thing to have to remember and change about my routine,” she said.  But Mom, I thought, the environment!!!  But I get it – the thought of changing a habit can be overwhelming.

HappinessAdvantage_NEW-2That’s why I was excited to read about activation energy in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achors.

To start a new habit, you need to lower the activation energy.  Shawn wanted to start working out in the morning. What did he do?  He lowered the energy it took to get up and ready in the morning by sleeping in his gym clothes.

By the same token, you can raise the activation energy to break a habit.  Shawn wanted to stop watching TV after work, so he put his remote in a drawer several rooms away from the TV.  As a replacement, he put a book by the couch.

Amazingly, this works on the brain.  Once you’re in your gym clothes, your brain actually thinks it’ll be easier to go for a run than change into different clothes!  It’s not logical, but it’s true.

changing-habits

I’m trying to do this more: I collect my produce bags and bulk containers in one spot so I don’t have to find them when I’m ready to shop.  I pack a refillable bottle and food so I don’t have to buy bottled water or unhealthy snacks if I get hungry.  I turn off my computer when so I can’t “get on for one second” and end up spending hours on Pinterest or Facebook.

What habits do you find hardest to break?  How have you lowered or raised activation energy to change a habit?

Eva works at MOM’s Central Office.

Posted in Book/TV/Movies, Energy Resources, Family | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Listen to the Bees

tumblr_n5fuqjRuHo1sh7uxvo1_1280The poet, Nazimi (c. 1200) wrote:

“A hornet seized a bee, intending to devour it. The bee begged for its life and said, “My hive contains so much honey, I myself am of so little worth, why do you not go to the hive and leave me in peace?” The hornet replied, “The hive is sweet because of the honey in it, but you must be sweeter as you are the source and spring of the honey.”

These words are so powerful to me. Honey is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these astounding creatures.

When I started beekeeping I had no idea what I was doing. As a little girl I was fascinated by insects and their tiny, yet tremendous lives, and I knew honey bees were the most interesting “bug” I’d read about. I was traveling when my dad called to say he started a few beehives in our yard. I flew home and upon first sight I fell madly in love with the thousands of humming beauties. I worked with bees during the rest of my travels and learned a lot from the different beekeepers I met in many places. Everyone I encountered knew so much yet so little all at once.

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Honey bees have been here for millions of years yet they have not changed much- a perfect species all along. They are unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Each bee in the colony has individual traits yet as a whole the colony has a social partnership. They have a language all their own that far surpasses the most intricate human language. They are the most studied insect on earth.

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We should all learn from the bees. Not only do they contribute wax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and of course the illustrious honey, they are also the most fundamental pollinator of our crops. The life sustaining nourishment we depend on.

photo (3)Eight years after we started and with 130 colonies, I am still learning so much about these beautiful, buzzing creatures. They have taught me more about life and love and what really matters in this world than I ever could have imagined. So listen to the bees. Do some more research, read books, watch documentaries, go to local meetings, talk to people, but just know… once you become a part of the bees there is no turning back. You’ll be forever captivated.

Lynn works at MOM’s in Herndon.

See more of Lynn’s pictures on her bee tumblr, and see her video of the roof bees at MOM’s of Alexandria.  Happy Honey Bee Day!

Posted in Ecology, Farmers, Local | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Have a Bee-Friendly Yard

National Honey Bee Day is this Saturday!  One way to “bee” friendly is to create a pollinator-friendly garden by avoiding pesticides and planting flowers that bloom at different times.

All these flowers are indigenous to the Eastern United States.  They have the sort of names that I wouldn’t expect to be paired with colorful flowers:


common_milkweed_captionfireweed_captionfalse_sunflower_captionohio_spiderwort_captionfoxglove_beardtongue_captiongrayhead_coneflower_caption

For more pollinator-friendly suggestions, Beyond Pesticides has a great resource!

Eva works at MOM’s Central Office.

Posted in Ecology, Gardening, Lawns, Local, Native plants | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

National Honey Bee Day

national honeybee day smallYou’ve probably heard about the declining bee population, maybe from the news, the Vanishing of the Bees, or Save the Dandelions.  Maybe you haven’t heard that National Honey Bee Day is Saturday, August 16th!

There are a bunch of factors that contribute to the declining bee population.  A big one that is getting more and more attention is the neonicotinoid class of pesticides.  These are systemic pesticides, which means that once they are applied, that are absorbed and present throughout the entire plant.  And like all pesticides, they don’t disappear – they stay in our soil and water systems, wreaking long-term havoc.

The problem is that even the tiniest amount of these pesticides (“sublethal” exposure) can hurt bees.  Low exposure can…

  • reduce the amount of pollen that bees gather, which is what the bees eat.
  • impact development of bee memory and sense of smell, which makes it harder for them to find and gather pollen
  • cause them to become prefer the sweetest pollen and avoid less sweet pollen, which is a critical source of nutrients for bees.
  • interfere with the bee’s ability to find a mate.

European Union has passed a two year ban on several neonicotinoids including clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam.  I hope the US will do something similar.

For more info, check out BEE Protective by Beyond Pesticides!

Posted in Ecology, Events, Family, News | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Why MOM’s Sells Eden’s

Many customers have contacted MOM’s about Eden’s Organics, requesting that we pull the products because of their healthcare stance.  MOM’s response is:

As retailers we sometimes find ourselves working with companies that do not align with our values to a T.  For example, we carry brands like Cascadian Farm and Honest Tea which are owned by parent companies that have fought against the non-GMO propositions we support.  However, MOM’s Purpose is to protect and restore the environment, and our number one priority is organics.  We choose to support organic farming whenever possible, though we may disagree with other policies of some businesses.

Our Founder and CEO, Scott Nash, wrote to a customer:

I haven’t liked Eden’s for years. I think they’re zealots and don’t hold my or the general industry’s values. However, we don’t ban products based on ownership ideologies- that is not our place and would be a very fuzzy exercise of highly subjective analysis. I’m constantly getting called upon by customers to stop selling many products for a plethora of reasons having to do with ownership ideologies.  However, that is the consumer’s prerogative.

eden_foodsThere are a lot of great things about private ownership.  It allows MOM’s to pay fair wages and stay independent.  By the same token, it means that other privately owned businesses can do the same.  Whether I agree or not, I believe it’s important that people can act upon their own ideologies.

MOM’s goal is to stock a great variety hobby_lobbyof organic products, and to let customers vote with their purchases.  A few customers have suggested that we put up a sign about Eden’s birth control stance, and here’s why we won’t:  We don’t get in the way of customers’ choices to buy what is best for their health and their values.  We trust our customers’ decision-making processes.  And if customers stop buying Eden’s, MOM’s will stop selling them.

There are so many important causes, and so many things to consider when purchasing anything.  Sometimes I wish I could avoid purchases altogether!  I get frustrated when the “good guys” start to seem like “bad guys.”  But with any issue, there are multiple points of view, and some prevail over others.  If you don’t agree with their policies, by all means stop buying Eden’s.  That will send the strongest message.


Eva works at MOM’s Central Office.

Posted in Family, News, Organic Food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Curious Produce: Little Potato Cucumbers

Jessup has a locally-grown (organic, of course) oddity on the shelf right now: the Little Potato Cucumber!

 

The texture is similar to a regular cucumber and the flavor is mild, mellow and cool, much like traditional cucumbers.

If you get a chance to check it out, please do!

Alyssa works in multiple MOMs locations!

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The Choice for Me: Chem Free!

Despite a recent and evolving Lyme diagnosis, I maintain my position of avoiding pesticide use.  As the ER team knows, I love to tell the kale “tree” story in which my kale crop flourished even in the depths of winter and grew so tall it was reminiscent of Jack & the Beanstalk.  I later learned my (former) neighbor Glen was heavily spraying my yard.  We moved out of that house, but not far away enough to escape Glen’s antics.

kale-chip-time

Disclaimer: What follows is a true story.  No exaggerations or color commentary added.

Loud knock on the door.  Solicitor?  I want to ignore but think I have been spotted through the window.   Open and see the truck:  Chemical company called Alterra.

Kid: (Knocks on door). “I just signed your neighbor Glen up for our services and thought you might be interested.”

Me:  “As you can see (I gesture to the garden of flowering clover and dandelion remnants), I am a proponent of natural lawn care, so no thank you.  In fact, I am happy to no longer be Glen’s direct neighbor because of what he sprayed in my yard.”

Kid: Stays on the porch.  Awkward look on his face.

Me: (angry at the thought of neighbors and people everywhere poisoning me and others… is this a healthy response for my cortisol levels??  Am I being too judgmental?)  “In fact, I am vehemently opposed to pesticide use and what it does to human health, not to mention the environment.” (My face reddens, my voice is louder.)  “Take me off the list permanently and please don’t come back again.”

Kid: (Starts to back away.  Has not uttered a word since introducing himself.   Looks downtrodden, dumb-founded).

Me: (Feeling suddenly bad for crushing this kid’s spirit for future call, I hear myself say,) “Good luck.”  (Then realizing I do NOT want him to be successful in his efforts, retract and say: “Well actually, not good luck” (start to fumble over words)….”Nevermind, just have a good day!”

I wonder if I have become a zealot, and decide my position is sound.  I decide I want a permanent and beautifully designed wooded sign for my lawn.    Something nice and tasteful like the natural habitat signs!

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It might say, “Proud to use natural lawn care.  Proud to protect our community’s health and the planet. Proud to be chem free!”

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 10.14.38 AMThe next day (nope, couldn’t make this up), another young man knocks on the door.  Before he gets a word in I launch my spiel.  He waits and then proceeds to educate ME on the benefits of chrysanthemum oil and other natural repellents.   Again my face reddens, but this time I ask if he would like a glass of water and invite him in.

(To read more about how to naturally prevent ticks from infiltrating your yard, check out this great resource from Rodale’s.)

Ryan works at MOM’s Alexandria

Posted in Ecology, Gardening, Lawns, Native plants, Vegetables | Tagged , , | 2 Comments