Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Our ambitious ethos has garnered quite a bit of attention since our IndieGoGo campaign launched us into the public spotlight just about three years ago. People from across the globe applauded our efforts to reduce food-related waste in the grocery industry by pioneering a “package free” model. It’s been almost two years of holding close to our original, idealistic vision of a different kind of grocery store, and though the response from the community – near and far – has remained positive and supportive, the numbers from our first 21 months of business paint a different picture than we had hoped.
Rather than give up and lament the impossibility of a perfect package free grocery model, we are narrowing our focus to three things we know we do well: zero waste, local food, and community. As a result, we hope to remain a part of the sustainable food movement, a part of this vibrant and growing city, and a part of this dynamic, diverse community on Manor Road. We plan to bend so as not to break, pivot to not fall, and innovate towards what’s pioneering but not impossible.
In practice, this shift means discontinuing a portion of our bulk section to make room for some new offerings. Our updated guiding principles look like this:
Zero waste: We average less landfill waste per month than an American averages per day!
Local food: As a hub for quality local products, we champion small farms and producers and promote local, seasonal eating. Some might say we have farmers market offerings with grocery store hours.
Community: Community gatherings – formal and informal, educational and social – are a regular happening around here. Plus, we love to partner with and support like-minded businesses and organizations that are also committed to a greener, more just world.
Still have some questions? Check out our updated FAQ page. We hope you’ll rally behind us as we make these changes and help us stick around for the duration.
The in.gredients Team
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!
We’re all about new ideas.
We’re also into revitalizing old ideas that have gone by the wayside. Eliminating unnecessary food packaging and focusing on locally and sustainably grown foods are good examples of old ideas made new again, and so is this: eating insects. Entomophagy, as it’s formally known, is a practice dating back thousands of years. Today, however, Western cultures hardly know the first thing about eating bugs, even though many other culinary traditions (Mexico, Thailand, and China, to name a few) still consume insects with regularity. As far as we’re concerned, insects are overdue for a resurgence in the West, and we’re not the only ones who think so.
Since 2010 when the idea of in.gredients was born, entomophagy has been on our list of creative solutions to environmental and social problems. Only recently, however, did we connect with two groups here in Austin leading the way in edible insects. World Ento, founded in Georgia in 2010 and recently re-located to Austin, is setting industry standards for safe, sustainably-raised insects. Little Herds, an Austin non-profit in its final days of a crowd-funding campaign, is on a mission to educate the public about the merits and joys of eating insects.
What are those merits, you ask? Insects are a highly efficient and nutritious source of protein (complete with all 9 essential amino acids), which makes insects far more viable in a resource-limited future than traditional sources. To give some context, the resources required to raise one pound of beef can raise nine pounds of crickets. That’s a significant difference, and one we simply can’t afford to ignore as population growth and resource depletion continue.
So how does one eat insects? Well, with over 2,000 edible species, the options are almost endless. Chefs from all over the States, including Austin’s own Sonya Cote, are already incorporating insects into their menus. Not excited about a whole cricket on the end of your fork? That’s fine, World Ento makes both cricket and mealworm flours that incorporate safely prepared insect meal into white or whole wheat flour. From there, the possibilities range from chocolate chip cookies, to pancakes, to just about any recipe involving flour. It’s a simple way to add a healthy, sustainable protein, and the insect flavor and texture are hardly detectable.
World Ento raises and sells clean, safe-to-eat, and ethically harvested insects (Good Karma Killing, as World Ento calls it, is a freezing process that lulls them into a painless stasis), and soon you’ll be able to find them (as a Chocolate “Chirp” Cookie Mix) at in.gredients!
Want to learn more? Follow World Ento and Little Herds on Twitter, and come out to our pre-party (for this amazing event) next Tuesday, February 18th. We’ll have tons of samples and a few of the big names in entomophagy on hand to talk to you in person about this exciting movement. Hop on board – you won’t want to miss this one.
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing good about airport food. We’ve all been there, pacing around the airport looking for options that aren’t full of salt, sugar and fat. Seeing as summer is upon us, it only makes sense to provide a go-to list for healthy travel. We found a majority of these tips from My New Roots, a great source for whole foods and healthy living advice. Follow these tips and you’ll be a happy camper when you skip past the $15 sandwich and avoid the inevitable regret that results in spending and eating over priced airport food.
According to Sarah, there’ll be some prep work involved, but it’s worth it. Whether you’re on the plane for just a few hours, going on a transcontinental trip or have an epic road trip in mind, these tips and snacks will carry you through.
Tips on Traveling with Food:
- Pack foods that don’t need to be refrigerated: This is a pretty obvious tip, but just in case you were wondering, leave the meat, cheese and dairy at home.
- Pack foods that will maintain food texture: Think carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, apples, and granola. If you want to pack greens, stick with romaine. It turns out that spinach and other lettuces wilt and get soggy.
- Pack foods that are easy to eat: Avoid being the person on the plane that ends up smearing sandwich drippings across the tray table. Stick with low-mess fruits, vegetables and snacks.
- Be considerate: Stick to foods that don’t have too strong of a scent. We’ve all been in the plane next to the person who decides to bring McDonalds on board. Be thoughtful of your neighbors, you’re in a VERY small space, remember?
- Avoid liquids: Remember how you can’t bring liquids onto planes anymore? This all depends on the security team, but packing hummus in with carrot sticks will most likely be allowed. If the thought of getting your hummus tossed out makes you anxious, stick to zero-liquid foods.
- Drink lots of water: Another no brainer, but remember that flying dries you out and our bodies will get bloated and feel funky unless you stay well hydrated.
Snacks and Meals for Flying:
From My New Roots
From the Kitchn
From Sprouted Kitchen
When you find yourself at Urban Roots, you’ll never want to leave. Only a few miles from downtown Austin, this piece of land used to be called Oasis Gardens Farm, and we understand why. Not only does this farm produce incredible vegetables (if you haven’t had an Urban Roots beet yet, you’re missing out) they’re also a non-profit teaching teens leadership and farming skills while providing access to healthy food in Austin.
Yep, this is what an oasis looks like.
Urban Roots was founded in 2007 as a program of YouthLaunch, and started the process of becoming an independent non-profit agency in the fall of 2011. Each year, the farm sets the goal of growing 30,000 pounds of produce with 40% of it going to local soup kitchens and food pantries. For 25 weeks during the spring and summer, Urban Roots provides paid internships to Austin youth, who develop life and job skills while growing food for the Austin community. The interns get to know this 3.5 acre plot of land, getting their hands dirty and learning what it takes to grow a tomato.
With open volunteer days Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8-12 and some select Saturdays, there are plenty of opportunities to go check out the farm. After spending a volunteer day harvesting carrots, I was reminded how much work goes into growing food and how much joy can be found in getting outside and getting involved.
While on the farm, I had the pleasure of talking with Blake Hill, Urban Roots farm manager, and Meg Mattingly, the Farm Education Specialist. As we chatted amongst the tomato plants, it became clear that while they love farming, this place, and their work, is for the youth. “The most important thing Urban Roots does is serve these teens. It gives them skills that they can carry with them for the rest of their life,” Mattingly said.
During their most recent open house, I had the honor of hearing from four of their youth interns. It was inspiring to listen to these young people talk about the impact Urban Roots has had on their lives. They spoke of the opportunities this organization provides, how they never thought they’d be good at public speaking, and how much confidence they’ve gained from their internship. “Out here, these kids learn to be the best versions of themselves,” Hill said.
While food insecurity, obesity and hunger rates are on the rise, Urban Roots is a breath of fresh air. Check it out for yourselves, you’ll leave the farm a better, more inspired person… We promise.
Ali Baba Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is quite possibly one of the best watermelons we’ve ever had. Originating in Iraq, this watermelon can survive the brutal Texas summer sun – thanks to its pale colored rind that prevents sunburning.
Size: 1-2 feet H x 6-7 feet W, 12-20 lbs melons
When to plant: Spring-Early Summer (Early April-Early June for Central TX)
How to plant: Sow outdoors after the last frost date when the soil has warmed, 1/2 inch deep. Watermelons hate to have their roots disturbed, so transplanting is not recommended. Space 2 feet apart in rows, or sow in hills spaced 4-6 feet apart. Thin to 3 plants per hill. Requires full sun.
Square foot spacing: Not recommended for square foot gardening.
Harvesting: Determining when a watermelon is ripe is probably one of the most difficult things for a gardener to do. It is nearly impossible to determine watermelon ripeness visually, so here are some tips:
- Thump it. If the watermelon is ripe, it will sound dull and hollow; however, this can be difficult for the untrained ear.
- Color. The watermelon is ripe when there is little contrast between the stripes on the melon, and the surface color becomes dull.
- The underbelly. Look for the spot where the melon rested on the ground; a yellow or a cream color spot suggests ripeness, while a white or pale green spot indicates immaturity. The rind at the soil spot should toughen and resist denting with a fingernail when ripe.
- Check the tendril. If the tendril is green, you should wait to pick the melon. Harvest when the curled tendril near the stem begins to shrivel and dry up. If it dries while the leaves and rest of the vine look healthy, the melon should be ripe.
Culinary use: The flavor of this melon is superb. It’s very sweet and luscious, with a nice crisp texture. We recommend eating a melon of this quality straight, but it also makes a beautiful caprese salad: substitute melon for the tomatoes and mint for the basil, and drizzle with strawberry balsamic vinegar.
Medicinal use: The flesh of watermelon contains 90% water, while the other 10% consists of a small number of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamin C, folic acid, alkaline substances, and decent amount of magnesium and potassium. For therapeutic purposes, use the fruit, including rind. Watermelon is a diuretic, and may lower blood pressure.
Companion planting: Grow watermelon with corn, nasturtiums, peas, sunflowers, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, oregano and radishes. Nasturtium helps to deter bugs and beetles, and oregano provides general pest protection.