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.


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!

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 12.19.41 PM

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 , , | 1 Comment

Philly Veg Fest = big hit

MOM’s was pretty excited to be part of Philadelphia’s first annual Veg Fest.


The event took place at The Shambles, and it was a sunny day.  We weren’t sure what to expect for attendance, but a conservative estimate suggests around 5,000 people were there!

IMG_0681MOM’s had fresh organic oranges and bananas, compostable bags, stickers, magnets, tattoos, and more.   Look at all these people!

IMG_0685Big thank-you to Lydia of the Humane League, for making all the logistics happen.  Did we see you there?  What was your favorite part of the event?

Eva works at MOM’s Central Office.

Posted in Children, Events, Local | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Nectarine Weekend Update!

The organic yellow nectarines are in!

They are spectacular – firm but ripe, with balanced sweet and tart, super-juicy and lip-smackingly flavorful. The price is great for a certified organic seasonal fruit at $1.99 per pound.

Recipes and helpful tips on nectarines here!  Come see us this weekend for #NectarineWeekend! And follow us on twitter: @MOMsOrganicMrkt

Posted in Fruits, Organic Food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nectarine Weekend!

Here at MOMs we’re gearing up for a Friday delivery of fresh, organic yellow nectarines that we’ll have on a super sale all weekend and into next week, as supplies permit.

Nectarines2Besides the fact that biting into a ripe organic nectarine is one of the greatest delights in modern life, there are many wonderful recipes for nectarines. Perhaps one will debut in your home for Father’s Day:

Nectarine and Blue Cheese Salad with Plum Vinaigrette

Tomato, Nectarine and Mozzarella Salad

Nectarine Upside Down Cake (gluten-free)

Spiced Peach and Nectarine Jam with Candied Ginger

Caramelized Nectarines

Grilled Nectarines with Feta

Rustic Nectarine and Blackberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust

Nectarine-Mint Wine Spritzer

Learn more about how to store and eat nectarines here! And remember to avoid the heavy pesticides used on conventional nectarines by purchasing certified organic. You’ll do some good for the earth, too, when you support organics!

Nectarine Weekend: Friday June 13 to Sunday June 15!

Posted in Fruits, Organic Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fair Trade Excursions

When I started working at MOM’s almost 6 years ago, I became instantly infatuated with Equal Exchange and the work they were doing in Fair Trade.  The day I received the coveted EE zip up hoodie was a pretty great day.   EE has been around since 1986 working to promote what they refer to as “authentic fair trade” –  supporting small farmer cooperatives.  This model encourages big change and economic sustainability through supporting collective units of farmers and communities.  The Fair Trade system was designed to support safe working conditions, economic sustainability, farmer community development, environmentally sound growing practices and appropriate payment.  This is the essence of the Fair Trade label.


This past December, I was invited to come along with Mayorga Coffee staff to visit the Cinco de Junio Co-op in Las Sabanas, Nicaragua.  We visited two farms associated with the co-op, Finca San Jose and Finca La Sirena.


Mayorga has taken great interest in figuring out a way for coffee farmers to maintain income while dealing with roya armarillo (coffee rust) that is causing major plant damage on many farms.  One of the ideas is growing chia seeds.  As this is a brand-new project Mayorga is funding, I was able to witness a round table discussion about project logistcs.  The farmers asked questions about payment, fears of failure, what-if-someone-came-along-with-a-better -offer, how it would be transported, etc.  I felt as though I was witnessing the essence of the farmer-to-distributor relationship.  Mayorga clearly cares about the well being of the farmers behind the brand and works hard to maintain strong, direct relationships with each farmer. They make regular visits to all farms and are very involved in supporting farmers as they continue to grow and thrive. More recently, I visited the Equal Exchange facility outside of Boston.  Upon arriving we spent some time learning from the coffee quality control manager.


She’s been involved with EE for quite some time and really knows her stuff.  She talked about coffee batch quality checks.  The first step is appearance.  Coffee should all be uniform and free of damage.  Unfortunately there are times when coffee needs to be rejected for not meeting quality standards.  Upon rejecting the batch, she does what she can to help the farmers resolve the issue whether it be going out to the farm to help them understand what Equal Exchange is looking for, providing education needed, or perhaps providing technical support.  This represents another example of farmer and distributor working together to support a superb model of trade. IMG_0836The model of farmer relationships is an important one.  Without the farmer, industries would fail.  The Fair Trade Model creates a strong connection between consumer and producer, and is a reminder of the people involved in the food process.

Krista works at multiple MOM’s locations.

Posted in Farmers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get a Wheelbarrow Out of Your Living Room

MOM’s employees tend to be do-it-yourselfers. In my case, when my wife and I purchased our first home, we took on a fixer-upper. Alas, mumble-mumble years later we’re still fixing it up. Late last summer my darling wife lovingly mentioned that it was time to get the wheelbarrow out of what should be our living room. It was time for a garden shed.

How big should our new shed be? It needed to fit a ten foot ladder, a lawn mower, a wheelbarrow, garden tools, miscellaneous lumber, and full sheets of plywood. A barn style roof would help with the lumber storage, and we figured a floor plan of eight feet by twelve feet (some might call it half the size of a living room) would fit everything nicely.

The kits and pre-built sheds we saw all seemed to cost too much, and weren’t very well constructed. After drawing up some detailed plans, we figured out that I could build something of better quality for a more affordable price. I ordered the materials, and scheduled a full week off work.

Pic01 - CopyI started by pouring concrete footings, and building the platform.

Pic02 - CopyAfter four days, I began to realize I may not have allotted enough time for this project.

Pic03 - CopyAfter the platform came construction of the wall framing and roof trusses. I built them atop the new platform, then moved each section over near the rain garden until they were ready to go up. I reused salvaged lumber where I could.

Pic04 - CopyMy photographer (a.k.a. bride) lent me a hand getting the walls up, and throughout the construction.

Pic05 - CopyAfter the fourth wall was up, I started putting roof trusses into place.

Pic06 - CopyI finished the trusses as my week of vacation ended. Next came roof sheathing and siding … on my days off.

Pic07 - CopyI fully admit, there were a few “do as I say, not as I do” moments during this project. Never stand on the top step of a ladder. Also, never smash your finger really hard with a hammer.

Pic08 - CopyNext I applied trim along the roof line, roofing paper, and shingles. My wife began the painting. The shed’s window is one we replaced from our kitchen.

Pic09 - CopyTrim boards went into place next. Then I used the cut out sections of siding to build a large entry door, and two small doors for the overhead lumber storage.

Pic10 - CopyThe last warm days of the season allowed us to finish the first coat of paint, and to apply caulk along all the trim boards. The next coats of paint would have been barn-red, but cold weather precluded them. A mere two months after beginning my one week project, I set into place a salvaged railroad tie as the shed’s front step.

I wish I could tell you our living room now sports a comfortable settee and coffee table. However, what you would actually find are boxes of flooring, long pieces of crown molding, numerous tools, and of course several gallons of barn-red paint.

Roland works at MOM’s in Rockville, MD

Posted in Gardening, Reuse | 4 Comments

We can Adapt to Anything

Humans can get used to just about anything.  Isn’t that amazing?  We are great at hedonic adaptation – also known as “getting used to stuff.”  After an adjustment period, we can recalibrate our happiness even in unfortunate circumstances.  We adapt when a family member becomes ill or when we move to a new place.  We can adapt to budgets, exercise routines, less money, new diets, etc.






Studies show
that after a number of months, lottery winners and people recently paralyzed by accidents rate their happiness about the same.  THE SAME, people!  Mr Money Mustache explains why,

Well, it turns out that when a person jumps to a new level of material convenience, he loses the ability to enjoy the things he previously thought were pretty neat. A cold Bud Light was once a true delight after a work day for the lottery winner, but after the win he quits the job and takes up high-end scotch, poured by a personal butler. Both serve the same purpose, and the pleasure is about the same. Similarly, when moving down the hedonic scale, either voluntarily or involuntarily, we can learn to appreciate simpler things with just as much gusto as we would have appreciated more expensive things. I truly love the sound of the wheels of my bike slicing through the quiet wind on an open road, just as much as I enjoyed the whirring sound of the gear-driven camshafts and the rich tuned exhaust note of my old VFR800 motorcycle.

There are tons of things over my lifetime that have changed for the better of our environment: people use reusable bags, bring refillable water bottles, drive smaller cars, drive electric cars, buy more organic foods, and more.  Ten years ago, would you have shaken your at the idea of carrying reusable bags or a refillable water bottle?  A habit that once seemed like a burden is now normal, and we’re happy to bring bags or carry bottles.  I’m getting myself in the habit of reusing produce bags.  What’s the point of grabbing a new bag for lettuce each time I’m at MOM’s, when the bags I got last time are practically good as new?

bikegasIn general, I think we underestimate our adaptability.  How often have you balked at the idea of changing your habits, routine, or lifestyle?  We’re used to doing things a certain way, and we don’t always question the why.  Why do people commute many miles in expensive cars by themselves?  Why do we buy new clothes each year?  Why do we throw so much away?

What are some ways you’ve changed, that 5 or 10 years ago would’ve seemed impossible?  What purposes do your habits serve?  How could you change them to something simpler with less impact on the environment?

I have a few personal examples… and I want to hear yours!  What environmental lifestyle habits can we adapt to?

It’s Screen Free Week – how hard would it be to adapt to a truly screen free week??

Eva works at MOM’s Central Office

Posted in Energy Resources, Family, Water | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments