Lessons from my Mom…

Mother’s Day is the day to celebrate your Mom, whether departed or still a part of your life.  It’s also a good time to reflect on some of the things you learned from her that have made you the person you are today.

Although gone for several decades now my mother’s life lessons still live on in me…many which taught me to be “green” in my younger years.  German born, my mother learned her life lessons from the “old country” which might somewhat be akin to growing up on a farm…lots of fresh veggies, whole grains and unpasteurized milk.

Here are 3 of the valuable lessons I carry with me:
1.  Read the food labels.  I think I was 9 or 10 when my mother insisted I read the labels on the food we bought in the grocery store.  Cancer was not a widely used term when I was a child and I always heard Mom say “If you can’t understand what it is, it’s probably a chemical that might not be good for you.  Someday doctors will discover these chemicals are causing people to get very sick.”   With all the controversy surrounding genetically modified food ingredients and the lack of requirements labeling of those ingredients I find this lesson to be even more important.  I now look for soy and corn products in anything I buy.  The chances of GMO corn or soy as an ingredient are very high.
2.  Waste not, want not.  This may seem a little trite yet I think about this beyond turning off outlet strips, lights, A/C, etc., bringing this lesson into my kitchen.  Since I do the majority of my shopping at the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays I want to enjoy every bit of the organic produce I bring home.  For example, if I buy a large bunch of swiss chard or kale I usually will make a large portion the first meal and refrigerate the leftovers.  The next day I may top my salad with the cooked chard or add lemon juice and snack on it.  If I haven’t used all the fresh veggies and they start wilting I add them to my morning smoothie where I still get the benefits of all the vitamins.  If, for some reason, some of the veggies end up beyond edible they go into my composter which makes some of the best soil for the herbs and veggies I grow.  I try to think “full circle” about many of the things I buy now.
3.  What else can you use this for?  In our fast paced world many items are becoming disposable rather than repairable or “repurposable”.  Nowadays I look at many of the things I may toss and think about another use for that item.  Last week I pulled out my patio umbrella and discovered a large hole in the cover where the grommet was attached to the top of the pole and the string to pull the umbrella up had disintegrated over the winter.  I decided to attach the umbrella cover to a couple 4X4s (you could also use tree limbs) that support my pergola and create a sun shade for a new sitting area.  The ribs of the umbrella could be fixed in the open position and by adding string solar lights, I created an attractive evening focal point in my garden.  Worn leather or rubber garden shoes make interesting planters so why not add some interest to your garden by screwing (through the sole) a worn-out shoe on a post…then take an old trouser sock or cut pantyhose leg and fill with soil and a trailing plant or herb?  I have fun coming up with new ways to use worn out items and it’s a great brain exercise!

Happy Mother’s Day…I hope it’s a green one!