Archive for the ‘Community’ Category
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.
Today we’re thankful for sharing. In a world where individual over-consumption has been the norm, it’s refreshing to see new technology and business models that are based on the idea of collaborative consumption.
We live in a world where it’s possible to swap unwanted personal goods with strangers on an international scale. It’s possible to not own a car, while still having quick and easy access to a set of wheels when you need them. Rachel Botsman, the author of What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, believes that this shift towards collaboration is due to the renewed belief in the importance of community, the torrent of peer-to-peer social networks and real-time technologies, the pressing unresolved environmental concerns and the global recession that fundamentally shocked consumer behaviors.
People are now aware that the way we were consuming wasn’t sustainable, and it’s possible to live a life of comfort and ease, without reverting to over-consumption. Sharing is becoming a way of life as more and more people find that it saves them money and is as convenient (if not more) than going out and buying individual items for themselves.
We at in.gredients are big fans of sharing. As a business based on the idea of reducing and reusing items, sharing fits into our model perfectly. By exchanging goods and services with your neighbors and a network of folks, you aren’t only decreasing unnecessary consumption, you’re building community.
We’re excited and thankful to live in a time where sharing is on the rise. To learn more and be a part of the movement, watch Rachel Botsman’s TED talk and get inspired.
Today we are thankful for our early adopters. We are grateful to the folks who looked at our business model and mission statement and said to themselves, “Yes, this is something I believe in.” Whether this support came in the form of funding our Indiegogo campaign, helping us dig our garden beds or shopping here since day one, we are thankful for each and every one of you.
The founders of in.gredients took the conventional grocery store model and flipped it on its head. In a country where over 40% of our food goes to waste and so much unnecessary packaging fills the shelves, in.gredients exists as an alternative. We are a small grocery store that serves our community sustainable, seasonal and local food. We believe in our farmers, ranchers and artisans and think that our money should stay within our community. in.gredients isn’t about convenience. We are about innovation and shifting the way people shop and interact with their food. So today, we are thankful for all of those that believe in what we are doing.
In 1962 a man named Everett Rogers published a paper titled, “Diffusion of Innovations” This paper sought to explain how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spreads through consumers. Shaped like a bell curve, this idea shows that there are a small number of early adopters, and these are the folks that catch wind of an innovative idea, acknowledge its purpose, and sign up. From there, more and more people catch on and eventually this idea becomes a part of everyday life.
Source: Alta Street
While a majority of the real life examples apply to technology (DVD players, Apple iPods, etc.), this is a theory that can be applied to any innovative idea. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, he asks the question why some leaders, businesses and organizations are so great at inspiring action and change. Referencing great leaders from our past, he suggests his Golden Circle idea. According to Sinek, every single person and organization knows what they do 100%, but very few people and organizations know why they do what they do. Not many organizations have pinpointed what their purpose is. Instead, they think from the outside in, first answering what, then how and finally why.
What makes inspiring innovators different, is that they answer the why first. They inspire by making believers out of their followers. As Sinek puts it, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” These believers, they are the early adopters. They are the ones that will dive head first into the business before anyone else. They are the people who funded us before we opened, volunteered countless hours to help us build the store from the ground up, and continue to shift with us as we grow and adapt our business.
Today, we are raising our glasses to our early adopters. The people who heard about in.gredients, saw that we were pioneering the idea of a zero-waste grocery store, accepted that it would be a work in progress, and have supported us ever since.
Thank you for believing in us, we wouldn’t be here without your continued support.
Thanksgiving is a week away, and we have so much to be thankful for. We are honored to serve a community that values real, local food. We are inspired by all the people in our neighborhood who come together and make this place such a wonderful place to work. in.gredients wouldn’t be here without your support, so to kick off this week of giving thanks, we extend our gratitude to our customers.
A few of our regulars have captured our hearts. They are here almost every day, and have become a part of the in.gredients family. If you’ve visited the store, a few of these folks are probably familiar to you (Zippo is the unofficial store hound.) These are faces we adore, and we sat down them to find out why they are “in.”
Get to know your neighbors. Support local. Be a part of this amazing community!
Describe yourself in 3 words: easy-going, adventurous and fun
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? It has a little bit of everything, and you don’t have to walk far for it.
How did you hear about in.gredients? I lived across the street!
Why do you come back? I never left… haha. And all my friends are here.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It’s dog friendly, and I like the zero-waste idea. I also love the familiar environment.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Pleasant.
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would you be? I’d be a kiwi… a hard exterior with a sweet inside.
Describe yourself in 3 words: new, music, experiences
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? Without a doubt, it’s the community, the people and the neighbors.
How did you hear about in.gredients? I watched it get built and then came on over.
Why do you come back? The staff! They are the nicest. in.gredients exceeded my expectations, the store has so much more stuff than I initially thought it would have. I do almost all of my grocery shopping here, it has everything I need.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It gives our neighbors a place to be. It’s our pub, our grocery store and our play house, all in one place.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Tasty
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would you be? I’d be a green bell pepper because I can go with anything!
Describe yourself in 3 words: funny, smart & lazy
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? The people
How did you hear about in.gredients? I moved in across the street right before you opened.
Why do you come back? I like it here. It’s full of good people and fun.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? The prepared foods, the events and the selection.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Community
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? An avocado. It’s delicious and green is my favorite color!
Describe yourself in 3 words: crazy, cat, lady
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? My neighbors
How did you hear about in.gredients? I moved in right next door.
Why do you come back? The staff. Everyone is encouraging about healthy food, and don’t make you feel stupid if you don’t know something. They aren’t patronizing or intimidating.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It’s a great place to hang out. My friends and community are here.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Family
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? Cheese doesn’t count as a vegetable?
Describe yourself in 3 words: charming, gentle and sweet
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? All the people and dogs!
How did you hear about in.gredients? Jake told me.
Why do you come back? To visit my pals.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? The events.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Friendly
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? A pear… I’m soft and sweet.
We set a lofty goal when we embarked on our zero waste mission. Luckily, we work with amazing local farmers, ranchers and artisans who share in our vision. We realize our vendors are up to their eyeballs in work, and are so grateful when they take the extra steps to help us reduce waste.
Today we received our first shipment of Vital Farms eggs in reusable containers. In the past, we’ve received them in cardboard boxes and egg cartons. While these were collected and given back, we knew we could improve the system. Now, with the help of Vital Farms, we’re getting our eggs delivered in milk crates and reusable plastic egg cartons. Each week we will wash and store these crates and cartons, and return them with our weekly delivery. It’s a pretty neat system, if we do say so ourselves.
We owe a big thank you to Vital Farm founders Matt and Catherine, who met one of our managers a few weeks ago and turned around as a zero-waste delivery partner within days of hearing our idea. Vital Farms, founded in 2007, started out on a 10 acre piece of land south-east of Austin. They now work with small family farms from California to Georgia in order to produce pastured eggs year-round.
Vital Farms cares about their chickens. With fields full of grass, legumes and insects available to the birds, plus certified organic Coyote Creek feed to supplement their wild diet, plenty of outdoor space and a nighttime shelter with clean nesting boxes, these chickens are well taken care of. The founders have gone to great lengths to make sure each of their farms meet this high standard, sometimes requiring 6 or more farm visits per year.
We’re happy to support Vital Farms, and can’t wait to see how our next zero-waste endeavor goes.
Did you know that we source over 95% of our produce from Texas? We believe in Texas farmers and think a farm to table diet is not only feasible, it’s also delicious! We have teamed up with Traveling Recipes to bring our community free culinary workshops that focus on plant-based dishes featuring Texas produce. We are able to offer these workshops for free thanks to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant, which gives us the opportunity to promote produce grown in Texas.
We met everyone at in.gredients so folks could pick up their beverages of choice (what’s a workshop without wine?), before heading down to the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). SFC’s new space is less than a mile from in.gredients, and has a beautiful fully equipped kitchen that was perfect for the workshop. After introducing ourselves and why we were there, we got to cooking!
Chelsea from in.gredients and Andi Jo from Traveling Recipes had done all the shopping and initial prep work, but beyond that it was all up to the participants to chop, grate, blend and cook the six plant-based dishes. With different stations set up around the kitchen, everyone spent two hours getting well acquainted with a wide variety of Texas produce.
After all the hard work we all sat down together to eat the fruits of our labor, and enjoy a meal together. It was a wonderful evening, and we can’t wait to host the next one! Stay tuned for the next workshop, as we hope to host them on a monthly basis!
This workshop’s menu included:
Super Loaded Salad
Raw Veggie Pad Thai
Spaghetti Squash Pasta
All of these recipes will be listed on the Traveling Recipes website within the next few days, so keep checking back if any and all of those dishes have you drooling.