Archive for the ‘Community’ Category
Last night we were lucky enough to play host to a crowd of intelligent, motivated, and committed environmentalists with one thing in common: a dedication to the human consumption of bugs. Recently we published a blog post explaining why we are jumping into the world of entomophagy (pun intended). Last night’s inspired and informed guests, curious (and pleasantly surprised!) first-time bug-eaters, and general spirit of collaboration and optimism, affirmed our commitment to this growing movement.
In the buzz of last night’s event preparation, Harman from World Ento turned to in.gredients for a simple teriyaki sauce to use in his cricket cooking demo. Erica, a veteran team member and the creative force behind our weekly salads (among other things), sprang into action and pulled together this impromptu “bug sauce.” To say the crowd was impressed and pleased with the results is an understatement.
Well, here’s the recipe, by popular demand!
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 2 tsp ground giner
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 tsp turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- Combine all the ingredients except the oil
- Drizzle the sesame oil into the mixture while whisking to emulsify.
- Enjoy! On crickets, a salad, chicken, or stir-fry!
Last weekend we hosted our second Go Texan, Go Local Culinary Workshop. Thanks to the Texas Department of Agriculture, we are able to host these workshops on a monthly basis for free. We partnered with Traveling Recipes, and every month we design a menu featuring 6 plant based dishes featuring Texas produce. As a store, we source over 90% of our fruits and vegetables from Texas, so it’s easy for us to create an entire meal using only what we can buy locally. We host these workshops at the brand new (and absolutely awesome) kitchen at Sustainable Food Center– community, it’s a beautiful thing.
This month’s menu was:
- Warm potato salad
- Stir fry and brown rice wraps with creamy cashew sauce
- Hot & cold kale salad
- Sweet and spicy mushroom and spaghetti squash pasta
- Roasted butternut squash and coconut soup
- Vegan, GF and raw pumpkin pie.
Sounds delicious, right?
After spending a few hours in the kitchen together, meeting new people and learning new skills we all sat down to eat together and chat about life and food. There’s nothing quite as wonderful as working hard in the kitchen and sitting down to the fruits of your labor. All of the dishes turned out delicious, and the recipes will be posted on the Traveling Recipes blog within the next few days. If you’re interested in joining us for our next culinary workshop, sign up for our mailing list and we’ll let you know about all of our upcoming events.
What began as a simple vision in early 2010, in.gredients opened its doors in the summer of 2012 with a clear but ambitious mission: reduce waste; promote local, sustainable food; and build community. This Thanksgiving season, more than a year after opening and almost four after the idea’s genesis, we are filled with gratitude for all those who’ve helped us make significant inroads in each of these areas. We know that “we” isn’t just the fifteen of us on the in.gredients Team, or our 70+ vendors, but rather the entire community of customers and boosters who’ve supported us along the way. As we (the in.gredients team) take a day of rest on this infamously busy shopping day (aka “Green Friday”), we’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on our successes, be open about the challenges that lie ahead, and share our vision for the coming months and years.
Let’s start with our successes. As a food retail business, we’ve sent zero pounds of food waste to the landfill since opening (something most American households and businesses can’t dream of), and averaged less than 3.5 pounds of landfill waste per month (dumpster? what dumpster?). We’ve supported over 60 Central Texas farmers and ranchers who use sustainable practices with over 75% of revenues going directly back into the local economy. We’ve also hosted over 50 community events with non-profit partners, like-minded businesses, neighborhood leaders, and musicians. In many ways our first year of business has been a resounding success.
The challenges we face are too evident to ignore, however. Recently we conducted a survey to gauge customer satisfaction and preferences and the results were clear: eating seasonally, locally, and package-free is a task still reserved for a minority of early adopters. If we can’t reverse the culture of convenience that’s been built over the last few decades of cheap food, abundant global distribution, and savvy marketing, we can be honest about how those factors have made our particular crusade that much more difficult, and what it will take for us (in.gredients and the community we serve) to overcome those hurdles. For example, our locally-produced, small-scale, unsubsidized goods may appear expensive in comparison to what fills most grocery store shelves, where the real cost of food is externalized and hidden from the consumer. And since our zero waste, package-free ambitions are on the vanguard of food retail (though harkening back to earlier times), there are other costs – the financial risks of trial and error, for one – associated with our particular slice of innovation. As a triple bottom line business we believe in sustainability on three levels – people, planet, and profit – and we’re patient for all three to come around. But that patience is founded in a resounding belief that we (the community) can return to the art of cooking, reclaim the joys of local food, and break the curse of convenience.
Doing business with in.gredients is an investment in a bold social experiment, a nod to innovation, a vote (with your wallet) for a better future – a future with a viable and economically sustainable local food system. We’re looking for more adopters and more champions of our cause because we are so close to proving this really is possible. Just a few hundred more Austinites deciding to divert more of their grocery dollars to our shop would go a long way in ensuring an even more successful second year. Though our Indiegogo financing campaign ended long ago, we continue to be a crowd-funded, community-supported venture. Are you in?
Today we are thankful for our growers.
Here’s what you already know, we love all things local. Our entire business is based on the idea that you can feed your economy and community by buying from local farmers, ranchers and artisans. If you take the time to dive into why food matters, you’ll understand why we are so dedicated to our local food system.
This week has been about reflecting on why we opened in.gredients. We opened this store because the conventional system is broken. We opened this store because we believe in our community and know that when push comes to shove, they’ll fight fork and spoon for their farmers.
The day before Thanksgiving is a perfect day to shake the hands, pat the backs, and raise your glasses to our growers. Because of their hard work we are able to stock our store with fresh produce, fresh meat and dairy and homemade artisanal food products, keeping the money in our community.
Thanksgiving is all about the food, and today we encourage y’all to support as many local growers as you can. Wouldn’t it be great to buy your groceries and realize that a majority of that money is going straight back into our local economy? Vote with your fork, have a local Thanksgiving.
Today we are thankful for cooking. Thanksgiving is a holiday based in homemade dishes, and hours spent in the kitchen with the ones you love. Since the mid-1960s, home cooking has fallen by half. Did you know that the average American spends 27 minutes preparing food, and only four minutes cleaning up? We, as a country, have fallen into the habit of letting the industry take over our meals, which has led to disastrous results. While these statistics are bleak, we are thankful for people like Michael Pollan who uncover, research and share information about the current state of our food system.
Pollan has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to researching and writing about the topic of nature and food. While discussing his most recent book, Cooked, for the The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), Pollan explains how cooking can change your life.
We have discussed the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and the ramifications of industrial food. We know that buying local is important, but what we haven’t touched on is how interacting with your food (cooking your food) is a crucial step in the process. Studies have shown that the rate of obesity decreases when people cook at home. In order to make shelf stable food, the processed food industry relies on three key ingredients: fat, sugar and salt. And while these ingredients can be layered to taste good, there is little to no nutritional value. A diet filled with processed foods means you take “once in a while foods” and turn them into “everyday foods”. It’s no surprise we live in a time where 1 in 3 kids (and 2 in 3 adults) are considered overweight or obese.
The shift to diets rich in processed foods happened when the industry coerced American families into thinking cooking at home was drudgery. During WWII, the food industry worked with the military to develop shelf stable food for the troops. When the war ended, they saw a market with the everyday American family, and had the technology to create a fast, processed and convenience based food culture. A famous KFC billboard in the early 1970s showed a giant bowl of their infamous fried chicken with the words, “Women’s Liberation”. They took homemaking and cooking and put a negative spin on it. And while Pollan has gotten flack for his book being “anti feminist”, his point was simply that the industry saw an opportunity to insert itself into the American family. Too busy working? Cooking wasn’t worth the precious time, and if the industry could cook for you, why bother?
Fast forward to today and you have an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and a general disconnect with where food comes from and how to prepare it. So today (and every day you can) spend time in your kitchen. Go grab real food and start exploring. There is so much joy in making a big meal with and for the people you love.
We want to acknowledge that we live in a society where some families have to work multiple jobs to ensure their family can even eat. This opens a whole other can of worms in regards to what’s broken with our food system, but we think there’s still time to cook. The average American spends over 30 hours watching television. And while there’s nothing wrong with unwinding after work, perhaps it would be worthwhile to take an hour or two away from technology and put it towards making food for yourself and your family.
Take the momentum from cooking Thanksgiving and translate that into your everyday life.
Today we are thankful for Alice Waters and local food. We’re in an exciting time where food is in the spotlight and people are realizing that local tastes better. This shift towards farm to table restaurants, grocery stores (woo hoo!) and food trailers is in part thanks to chef Alice Waters. Back in 1971, Waters decided (with no prior chef experience) to open a restaurant.
In an old house in Berkeley, CA, Waters opened the doors of Chez Panisse, and has been helping shape the local food movement ever since. Her inspiration came from studying abroad in Paris during the 1960s. As she traveled around the country, she realized that the best flavors came from what was made, grown and sourced from France.
Taking this idea of local food tasting better, Chez Panisse menu consists of simple, local food prepared with a lot of love. Since opening, the restaurant has grown and fostered relationships with growers in California. Using weekly trips to the farmers market as inspiration, the menu is shaped by what’s available and what’s in season. And while Waters acknowledges the challenges of eating local (where are the bananas?), she urges people to get creative, “Eating locally is so particular. You have to accept that fact and celebrate what does really grow.”
Waters has taken the idea of a local, sustainable diet and moved it from the restaurant into the classroom. Seventeen years ago, Waters teamed up with Neil Smith, a principal at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School to transform an acre of asphalt into an Edible Schoolyard. They then added in a kitchen element, and by year five, the teachers at this public middle school taught ten 90-minute classes a week in both the garden and the kitchen. Since then, they’ve added chickens to the land, and now grow more than 100 varieties of seasonal vegetables, herbs, vines, berries, flowers and fruit trees. Best of all? They have served over 7,000 students. The work they are doing for the farm to school movement is huge, and if you’re seeking inspiration, go check out the multiple projects they’re working on to bring real, local food to the classroom.
Alice Waters is an inspiration. As a business whose ethos is to bring local, sustainable and seasonal food to our community, it’s not surprising that Waters was one of the main influencers for opening in.gredients. Last year at the Think Beyond Plastic award ceremony, one of our founders, Christian Lane, got the chance to meet Alice Waters. While discussing local food, Waters congratulated us on the work we’re doing, and encouraged the growth and expansion of in.gredients. To say we were flattered is an understatement. It’s not everyday you get kudos from a national local food leader.
When we look into the work of Alice Waters, our hope is restored. She’s living proof that with a lot of work, a lot of love and a strong passion and commitment to what you believe in, you can change the way people view and value their food. This Thanksgiving, raise your glass to individuals around the world who are bringing local back to the table.