Archive for the ‘Food for Thought’ Category
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.
This Thanksgiving week, we are dedicating our blog to things we are thankful for. Today (and every day), we are thankful for real food. We are thankful to our local farmers who we know by name, and who work hard to grow the most beautiful produce we’ve ever seen. We are grateful for our ranchers who treat their animals with respect and put value in the life of another creature. As a business, in.gredients is dedicated to sourcing from local farmers, ranchers and artisans so our customers can shop here without fear of hidden costs to your health or the health of the environment.
We’re advocates for real, local food and here’s why.
Conventional food, while monetarily cheaper due to government subsidies and policies, has a much higher cost than you might realize. The Sierra Club’s National Sustainable Consumption Committee launched a campaign about the true cost of food. In a short 15 minute movie, they walk you through what conventional food really costs.
Let’s start with meat. The average United States citizen eats 270.7 pounds of meat per year, which is more than almost any other country on the planet (Luxembourg eats slightly more than the US.) Meat has a much larger impact on the environment than any other food we eat. One quarter-pound of hamburger meat requires 6.7 pounds of grains, 52.8 gallons of drinking water, 47.5 square feet of land and 1,036 Btus (british thermal unit) of fossil fuel energy. In this country, a majority of the meat is raised in factory farms, where animals are not only treated inhumanely, they are given copious amounts of hormones and antibiotics. Did you know that US livestock operations use 77% of total antibiotic use? That’s 3.9 time greater than the amount sold to humans. Needless to say, our current source of meat is sick. The Sierra Club estimates that the true cost for a one pound, conventionally raised steak is $815 a pound.
Source: J.L. Capper, Journal of Animal Science, December, 2011
Credit: Producers: Eliza Barclay, Jessica Stoller-Conrad; Designer: Kevin Uhrmacher/NPR
Next up is conventionally grown produce. Mono-cropping has become the norm for growing fruits and vegetables in the United States. Only planting one crop at a time means that a single disease or pest can wipe out an entire crop. To avoid this, big agriculture turns to pesticides. Nearly 1 billion tons of pesticides are used every year, which kills the “bad” pests while simultaneously killing everything else around it. This causes a loss of 24 billion tons of topsoil a year, as well as contributing to the pollution of our rivers and groundwater. Not only does mono-cropping and big agriculture damage the natural environment, it also hurts small family farms.
Did you know that the largest 10% of the farms collect 65% of the government subsidies, and 7% of our farms sell 72% of our food? And a majority of the “food” they are growing are corn and soy, which are used to make the massive amounts of processed foods that have become the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner for many American families. So what’s the average cost of a conventionally grown tomato? According to the Sierra Club, the true cost of a tomato is $374.
Last but not least is processed food. Let’s take a look at a box of cereal. Boxed cereal was one of the earliest convenience foods and represents the power of marketing and packaging. They represent how you can take a cheap commodity crop (corn, soy, wheat) and convert it into a “high value” good. In reality, there is little to no nutritional value in processed foods, and they are basically fat, sugar, salt and chemicals passed off as food. Because of processed, “convenient” foods, 15% of American children are overweight, a number that has tripled in the past 25 years. It’s not just the kids, ⅓ of American Adults are overweight, which has increased the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and numerous other health ailments. It’s the first time in history where children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Alright, enough with the doom and gloom facts. The fantastic news is that we, as consumers, have the power to vote with our fork, and make it clear that we value and want local food. With the average meal traveling approximately 1,500 miles, it’s time to take a step back and look at the food growing around you. Eating locally saves up to 17 times the fuel costs of conventional food. There are now five times the amount of farmers markets today than there were in 1980, and the organic food market is growing 25% every year. And while the monetary cost of real, local food might seem more expensive, when your food comes from a place that works with nature, not against it, it costs a lot less in the long run.
This Thanksgiving, stop by in.gredients or your farmers market and thank the amazing folks that work tirelessly to grow food you can eat with pride. The real cost of our conventional food system is haunting, and we are the only ones that have the power to change it. Support local, seek ownership and responsibility for the food you’re buying for yourself and your family, and let’s work together to build community around real, local food.
If you want to know more about the real cost of food, here are some great resources:
It’s nearly August, which means that we are wrapping up summer (did it go by extremely fast to anyone else??) and tumbling into fall. That means you still have a month to cram your brain with as many books as you can. Or, if you have children, perhaps this is a list you can carry into fall when the little ones go back to school. We did some research and compiled a list of books that are all about food through a variety of lenses. A book for every mood, no matter what your relationship to food is.
By Elissa Altman
Elissa Altman is a food writer and blogger at Poor Man’s Feast, a James Beard award-winning blog. This memoir follows Altman’s upbringing in New York City where she learned that food should be fancy, that was until she met her partner who was devoted simple living. This is a heart warming story about a city girl turned rural farmer. Bonus: 27 delicious recipes.
By Wenonah Hauter
Hauter is the executive director of Food and Water Watch and owns an organic family farm that provides vegetables to hundreds of families through a CSA. In her book, Hauter takes aim at the control of food production by a handful of large corporations – backed by political clout – that prevents farmers from raising healthy crops. The bottom line of her book is that solving the crisis will require a structural shift in politics, not just personal choice.
By Jonathan Bloom
We had the honor and privilege to meet and spend the evening with Jonathan Bloom when he was visiting Austin. His book explores waste in our food system and how we can address these issues, both reducing food waste and saving money.
By Michael Pollan
As one of the best known food writers, Pollan dives into the art of cooking. How it is what sets us apart from other mammals, and how the power of the four classical elements (fire, water, air and earth) transform the things we grow into delicious things we love to eat and drink. As always, he explores this subject through hands on learning through the art of grilling with fire, cooking with liquid, baking bread and fermenting.
By Michael Moss
It’s always nice to add an in-depth investigative journalism book onto your list. This book examines just exactly how and why we can’t get enough of the salt, sugar and fat in our diets. It’s an eye-opening and informative book that will leave you with a very honest picture of how serious food advertisers are about selling us things they know are bad for us, with little to no concern for our health.
By Austin Food Bloggers
We love our community of local food bloggers. There’s a huge community of folks that are dedicated and passionate about food. This cookbook is a sampling of some of their favorite dishes and stories of life in Texas. Recipes include persian stew, czech kolaches and good ol’ fashioned Texas sheet cake.
Do it Yourself
By Carleen Madigan
This book is perfect if you have a small space, want to grow food and don’t know where to start. From a quarter acre it’s possible to harvest 1,400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 280 pounds of pork and 75 pounds of nuts. That’s a lot of food, it’s time to get started!
TED Talks are all the rage these days. Covering a wide range of subjects, there’s something for everyone. It’s incredible how inspirational people can be in 15 minutes. If you haven’t listened to a TED talk yet, we’re bringing you five of the TED talks that stuck with us.
Surprise, surprise, they’re all about food.
This one brought tears to our eyes and hope to our hearts. He’s 11, y’all. This TED talk will definitely make your friday.
Have a strong opinion about farmed fish and seafood in general? Us too. Watch this fantastic talk from chef Dan Barber.
We had the privilege to meet Anna when she was recently in Austin, and this woman lives and breathes food activism. Listen to her take on what the billion dollar food industry is doing to our countries children and teens.
It’s hard to talk about food without talking about access and security. This is another inspirational talk that will have you tearing up your front yard to plant a garden.
This man is a leader in the food community, and this is apparent in the fact that he gave this talk in 2007. He knows his stuff, and is honest about what we need to do as a country to make a change. Eat less meat.
Stephen is a South Bronx teacher/administrator growing over 25,000 of vegetables in the bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance. “It’s easier to raise healthy children than to fix broken men!”
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
Now that you’ve stuffed yourself silly after preparing and eating with your new Zero-Waste habits, it’s time to chat about keeping your kitchen spotless. How you clean up after your meal is just as important as how you purchase and prepare it. Many of the conventional cleaning products are filled with toxins which pollute the air and the waterways. A majority of them are found in large, plastic bottles and the amount of water wasted making these products is astounding
Part of the beauty of being an (eco)nista is continuously evolving and improving oneself – particularly towards a more conscious and compassionate lifestyle. Continuing the discussion on the Zero-Waste Kitchen, here are some habits to integrate into your Kitchen-cleaning routine.
Tips on Creating A Clean, Zero-Waste Kitchen:
Unplug appliances not in use, phantom energy is a killer.
When cleaning, try castille soap as a cleaner (which can be bought in bulk from in.gredients) it can be used for ANYTHING from hands to dogs to dishes to floors to counters, and you can use baking soda as a scrubber with a compostable cleaning brush (one great brand is Full Circle’s Be Good Dish Brush)
Check out Lisa Bronner’s Blog for great DIY recipes using Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap.
Create your own dishwasher soap, or buy in a biodegradable cardboard box.
Get strategic with your water washing
Limit the duration of running water by washing small things as you fill larger dishes, whose water you can use to soak other pots + pans
Unless icky + sticky, skip the pre-rinse of dishes. The dishwasher is found to use less water than washing by hands (but only run it if it’s full!)
Better yet, use your dirty water as reclaimed water for plants.
If you’re not near a compost garden, check out the Compost Pedallers. For as little as $4/week they’ll come to your house and take your compost. Or consider storing your compost in Full Circle’s Freezer Compost Bin and then drop it off weekly at one of Austin’s compost bins.
If you need even more incentive to compost, Austin’s Local Government is offering Home Rebates for Composting.
For more recipes, articles, + information on going Zero Waste in the Kitchen check out my Pinterest board!
Cleanses can be daunting. Initially, your brain might jump to the thought of 10 days surviving on nothing but lemon, water, paprika and maple syrup. This is not the type of cleanse we’re talking about. Instead, think of the Daily Greens Summer Cleanse as four days of clean eating, resetting the body and getting everything back to square one.
We started carrying Daily Greens at in.gredients a few months ago, and have fallen in love with their juice. This brand new company has seen amazing success as more and more people get hooked on their product. It’s easy to see why people can’t get enough of the stuff, as each bottle contains 6 pounds of produce, sourced from local farmers. Not only that, when you finish drinking a bottle you’ll have consumed 9 servings of vegetables. If that isn’t enough to convince you, this juice has five times the nutrients as standard juicing due to their cold-pressed juicing methods. Cold pressed juice retains more of the vegetable’s nutrients, as heat is never introduced in the process.
It’s no wonder you feel like a super human after you finish. Now, imagine if you were to drink three (18 pounds of vegetables!) of those bottles a day, on top of a vegan, raw diet. That, my friends, is what a cleanse should look like. By filling up with fresh fruits and vegetables, you’re giving your body a chance to detox and reset to your healthiest self.
Speaking from experience, this four-day cleanse (and Daily Greens Juice) is like a breath of fresh air. Yes, I had a little bit of a headache the first two days, but now that I’ve reached day four I feel fantastic. I feel lighter, my skin is clear and has a ‘glow’, and I make it through my work day while still having enough energy for running, biking and yoga. Shauna, the founder of Daily Greens, is who turned me on to the 2013 Summer Cleanse, as I followed her journey on Facebook. While I didn’t stick to her menu directly, I filled my diet with only vegan, raw and organic fruits and vegetables (the amount of kale I’m eating is absurd.)
If you’re feeling in need of a reset before summer is in full swing, check out the Daily Greens Facebook for Shauna’s menu plan. You won’t regret the decision, I promise.
As the folks from Daily Greens say, Drink Your Veggies!
There is something idyllic about Green Gate Farms. A historic piece of farmland tucked away in East Austin, it’s easy to miss amongst the RV park and new housing developments. Pulling into the long driveway I was surprised at the amount of cars packed into the parking lot. My surprise turned into delight as I was instantly greeted by children of all ages, offering to give me a tour of the farm and selling me fresh squeezed lemonade.
As it turns out, Green Gate Farms runs a summer farm camp for children ages 5-15. As I was led around by one of the campers, I was impressed by the ownership and pride these kids take in the farm. They have freedom to explore, catch bugs, pet pigs and help run the farm stand. Not only that, but they gain leadership skills as they lead farm tours and interact with the adults and volunteers.
Green Gate Farms is run and managed by Erin Flynn and Skip Connett. They’ve been running the farm for eight years, restoring a historical farm site to bring food, education and community to East Austin. On top of maintaining and running a farm (which is an incredible amount of work), Erin and Skip founded the New Farm Institute, a non-profit that exists to educate, assist and inspire the next generation of sustainable farms, especially those within 30 miles of medium to large cities.
Sitting down with Erin amongst the arts and crafts projects left behind by the campers, it was easy to see that Erin is passionate about what she does. “My husband and I are agricultural activists, we want to work towards a system where farming is made a priority,” Flynn said, “There’s always talk about how we need our police and firemen, I want there to be a shift so people start holding their farmers up in the same way.” As a part of the Sustainable Food Policy Board, Flynn goes above and beyond to be a part of the conversation and community that is working towards making small, family farms a priority, instead of a thing of the past.
“Small, family farms are endangered,” Flynn said, “We are a society based on convenience, and it’s time we stopped trivializing what farmers are doing. I want farming to be a year-long, lucrative profession. If it isn’t, we are going to lose our family farms.” The thought of our beloved Austin farms disappearing should make your knees start to shake. Farmers are some of the most resilient, smart and dedicated people in our community. They’re the people that stock our shelves with mouth-water produce, providing our neighborhood with real, local food.
Our conversation ended when one of the campers ran up with the tragic news that the lemonade was gone. With a smile, Erin excused herself to make sure her campers and visitors were well taken care of. I ended my trip to the farm by stopping at the farm stand. Open on Tuesday (3-6 pm), Friday and Saturday (10-2 pm), the stand is stocked with vegetables and flowers from the farm as well as meat and eggs from nearby.
“We have a vegetable, meat, egg and flower CSAs available,” Flynn said, “We work with farmers nearby that we trust, and only provide our customers with the highest quality products.” You can sign up for their CSA to receive weekly or biweekly shares that include approximately 8-10 seasonal organic vegetables and you can add flowers, eggs and pastured meats. With convenient pick-up spots around town (in.gredients included), there’s no reason not to support this wonderful family farm.
As two young girls gave me the run down on prices, I realized how special it is that I can drive ten minutes from my house and be at Green Gate Farms. Not only is it a farm, it’s an education center where kids can be outside, learn valuable skills and get closer to their food. Green Gate Farms is definitely worth a visit, and if you have a little one there are still week-long programs to join this summer.
Go ahead, take a field trip and connect with your food.
The arrival of summer means endless lazy days, juicy watermelon from the Farmer’s Markets, and soaking up that vitamin D at Barton Springs. All that glorious sun means potential for pesky sunburns. With the endless options on the market today – and virtually no regulation from the FDA – how do you know which is the safest, most sustainable sunscreen?
First let’s break some of the most common misunderstood facts about sunscreen.
Sunscreen does not protect skin from all types of sun damage: Until recently many sunscreens only primarily protected people from ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, the main cause of sunburns, but not ultraviolet A (UVA) ray, which are correlated with aging and skin damage (i.e. sun spots, wrinkles)
Higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) products do not equate in stronger or longer protection: According to EWG’s Sunscreen Guide, there is only 1% difference in the amount of UVB protection from SPF 50 to SPF 100. Instead the key is to consistently re-apply a copious amount to your skin.
Many conventional sunscreens include ingredients that disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies: Many conventional brands infuse their sunscreen with vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or “retinol”), a chemical linked to increased cancer cell growth, and oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor.
The good news is that there are several safe sunscreen alternatives that will truly protect your beautiful skin! in.gredients offers Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 and Elemental Herbs Sport 30+. Also, you can check out EWG’s Sunscreen Guide for a list of their top-rated sun care products. Or if you are feeling crafty, why not try these DIY sunscreen recipes from Revitalise Your Health. When it comes down to it, nothing compares to the best sun protection: covering up with hats, clothing, shady trees, and umbrellas. Word on the street is, shade is the new sun.
So now that we know how to protect the largest organ on our body, lets go enjoy the sunshine before it becomes too unbearable in this Texas heat!
Whether you desire to save some green or live more green, the Zero-Waste philosophy is for you! Innovating the 3 R’s of living green (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), the Zero-Waste philosophy is all about creating an eco-lisitc understanding of the products and resources we use as we aim to consume (and spend) less.
The kitchen is one of the most wasteful areas in our household. 40% of food in the US goes to the landfill, and 30% of municipal landfill waste is packaging, a majority of which comes from our kitchen (National Resource Defense Council 2012, Environmental Protection Agency 2007.) On top of all that, consider the army of disposables such as paper towels, plastic bags, and aluminum foil that is conventionally used and then tossed into the trash. With statistics like these, can you imagine the amount of change we can create by reevaluating our habits in the kitchen?
Here are some useful tips for creating a zero-waste kitchen. Feel free to begin with the few you’re confident you can do and add more as you go! By continuously integrating these small changes and embracing the Zero-Waste philosophy, we can be certain we are truly having a positive impact on our world (while saving some cash.)
If you have any more ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I always love hearing new creative ways to live simply and fabulously green.
Preparing + Eating
Buy in Bulk using reusable containers (and bags!) and buy locally.
Sprout at Home: it’s easy, cost-effective + creates the perfect salad topper.
Mini-Herb Gardens: freshen your indoor air, while greening your thumb + spicing up your dishes.
Make sure you are storing your fresh fruits + veggies properly: how often do we toss food for spoiling quicker than you expected? Here’s one great online guide from My Thirty Spot to check out.
Utilize that freezer! Whether you cook soups + sauces in large quantities or prepare veggie squares for green smoothies, your freezer is your bestfriend when it comes to preserving your produce.
Try some Recipes for the almost…:
Low-Fat, Raw-Vegan Ice-Cream (aka blended frozen bananas)
Fruit Bread + Muffins
Green Smoothie Squares
Simple (yet clever) Cooking Tricks:
Steam your veggies as you boil pasta in to steam veggies.
The electric kettle is up to twice as efficient as a stove-top, so to jump start the boiling water for pasta, rice etc. use the electric kettle.
To save some energy when using the oven to roasted veggies or bake cookies, consider turning off the oven up to 15 minutes before indicated time. As long as you don’t open the door + let the heat out, the oven will stay hot.
When packing lunches or putting up leftovers use reusable packaging such as glass containers, U Konserve snack bags, or organic towels to wrap fruit.
To prevent avocados, pears, etc. from turning brown after cut from oxidation, try squirting a little bit of lemon before storing in a reusable container.
For more recipes, articles, + information on going Zero Waste in the Kitchen check out my Pinterest board!