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Archive for the ‘Good Ideas’ Category

A Complete(ly) Sustainable Protein?

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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.

Cricket!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.

Written by Josh Blaine

February 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

Eastside Compost Pedallers: The Loop

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day 2-ingredients

Have y’all heard about the Eastside Compost Pedallers? They’re becoming celebrities around these parts, recognizable by their big blue bins strapped to custom fitted bicycles. Not only are they some of the nicest folks we know, they’re doing incredibly important work in our community.

Here’s how it works. You collect your compost (or “scrapple”) throughout the week, leave it out on your porch, and the pedallers will collect your food waste, and bike it to nearby farms. Yep, they bike the compost everywhere. Not only are they diverting food waste from the landfill, they’re doing so on bicycles, eliminating waste in every sense of the word.

Pretty amazing, right?

If that isn’t enough, they just introduced their Loop program, which encourages their customers to compost in order to win prizes from local businesses. The pedallers weigh the compost each week, and approximately one pound of compost equals a point. You can then take those points and cash them in for goodies at your favorite east side spots, including in.gredients.

If you aren’t completely in awe of them by now, watch these videos and you will be. Learn more about the Loop, how we’re getting involved and how you can be a part of this amazing zero-waste business.

Happy composting!

What is The LOOP? from East Side Compost Pedallers on Vimeo.

Loop partner highlight: in.gredients Microgrocer from East Side Compost Pedallers on Vimeo.

Healthy Meals & Snacks for Your Next Trip

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havefoodtravel

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

Cookie & Kate

Happy flying!

Written by cscdavis

June 20, 2013 at 9:00 am

Guest Blog Post :: Creating a (Clean) Zero-Waste Kitchen

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zerowastekitchen

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.

  • Ditch the paper towels for Reusable Towels/Napkins. Or check out these washable bamboo towels by Bamboee and biodegradable cloth towels from Skoy Cloths

  • 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)

    1. Check out Lisa Bronner’s Blog for great DIY recipes using Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap.

  • Get strategic with your water washing

    1. 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

    2. 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!)

    3. Better yet, use your dirty water as reclaimed water for plants.

  • Before composting, maybe try one of these DIY facials with coffee grounds or overripe avocados.

  • 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.

    1. 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!

Sustainably yours,

Jessa @jwestxo

Written by cscdavis

June 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

Guest Blog Post: Safe, Sustainable Sunscreen

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sunshine2

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!

Sustainably yours,

Jessa

@jwestxo

Written by cscdavis

June 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Guest Blog Post: Creating a Zero-Waste Kitchen

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zerowastekitchen2

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…:

    1. Too-ripe fruit

      1. Smoothies

      2. Low-Fat, Raw-Vegan Ice-Cream (aka blended frozen bananas)

      3. Homemade Jams

      4. Fruit Bread + Muffins

      5. Fruit Leather/Stripes

    2. Too-soft veggies

      1. Spaghetti Sauce

      2. Veggie Soups

      3. Green Smoothie Squares

    3. Too-hard bread

      1. Croutons

      2. Pita chips

      3. Bread Crumbs

      4. Stuffing

      5. Soup Topping

  • Simple (yet clever) Cooking Tricks:

    1. Steam your veggies as you boil pasta in to steam veggies.

    2. 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.

    3. 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!

Sustainably yours,

Jessa

@jwestXO

Written by cscdavis

June 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Improving Your Indoor Air Quality with Plants

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When the weather is like this, most of us want to stay indoors. We aren’t getting as much fresh air as we’re less inclined to open windows when it’s so cold outside. Did you know that the air quality indoors can be up to ten times worse than the outdoors? This is due to the chemicals found in common household (and workplace) cleaners, furniture and more. These objects emit toxins that pollute the air, and with nowhere to go, the levels of indoor pollution rise.

Don’t panic, just get yourself a houseplant. These plants help filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Their foliage purifies the air and helps remove the toxins found in common household chemicals. Some of the biggest indoor pollutants are formaldehyde, benzene, acetone, ammonia and VOCs.

We found a list on Mother Nature Network of houseplants that improve indoor air quality. You can call your local garden center to see which of these plants they have available, and add some greenery to your indoor landscape. Here’s a short list of some plants that caught our eye.

The first plant on our list is aloe. This plant is easy to grow, and loves the sun. It helps clear formaldehyde and benzene, which are byproducts of chemical-based cleaners and paints. Aloe is also great for healing cuts and burns, which makes it an ideal plant for a sunny kitchen window.

Next up is the spider plant. If you lack a green thumb, this is the plant for you. Hard to kill, it has lots of foliage and tiny white flowers. The spider plant helps reduce the levels of benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. It’s lovely AND resilient, making it one of the most popular houseplants.

If you’re feeling like you want an indoor plant with a lot of color, try the gerber daisy. This bright, flowering plant is effective at removing trichloroethylene, a toxin commonly associated with dry cleaning. The daisy is also good at filtering out benzene that is found in inks. This plant loves sun, so keep it in a bright bedroom window.

Or if you’re looking for a conversation starter, try the mother-in-law’s tongue (how can you not be interested in a plant with a name like that?) This plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. You can put one in your bathroom, as it will thrive in low light and steamy humid conditions.

Our last plant is the chrysanthemum. This popular plant does more than add color to your living room, the bloom also helps filter out benzene. The plant thrives in bright light, and if you want the buds to open, you’ll need to find a spot near an open window with direct sunlight.

For the complete list of indoor house plants, visit Mother Nature Network, and check out the image below for additional air purifying houseplants.

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Written by cscdavis

January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm

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