Name and Spelling
+ How do you say your name/how’s it spelled?
Conversationally, our name’s pronounced “ingredients,” plain and simple. When written, however, our name’s ALWAYS spelled in.gredients, all lower-case, with a dot between “in” and “gredients.”
Our Business Model
+ Are you like a small specialty shop?
We’re a grocery store in scope and corner store in scale. We carry everything from meat to wine to produce in a small, efficient space.
+ Are you like a supermarket?
No. We’re not competing with supermarkets. Our brand new business model will exist in opposition to what’s normal in the grocery business because what’s normal isn’t healthy for our customers. We care about the future health of our community and local food economy, and can’t provide that by mimicking popular supermarket behavior (read more here).
+ But isn’t packaging necessary?
Traditionally, we’ve been conditioned to believe packaging is necessary to extend product longevity and to keep products safe. To be sure, packaging does accomplish these – assuming the product’s moving through the normal food system. However, in.gredients isn’t participating in the normal food system… read more on our facts page.
+ Are you really package-free?
In short, yes. “Package-free” is a buzzword in the world of sustainable food, so it carries some ambiguity. The majority of the items in.gredients offers are completely package-free, although some items may require packaging to meet food safety requirements. Our goal’s to eliminate all unnecessary packaging and promote a “reduce, reuse, then recycle” philosophy in order to reduce waste. We believe most food and product packaging is unnecessary.
+ Why precycling? I thought recycling was awesome!
…and recycling is awesome. Recycling things to be used again is much better than hauling things to the landfill! However, the recycling process actually consumes a lot of energy and produces waste when compared to simply reusing something. Take the wine bottle for example: when a wine bottle’s recycled, it’s destroyed (made into crushed glass) and sent to a recycled glass distributor, bought by a glassmaker and made into a wine bottle again, sold to a wine bottle distributor, sold to a winery and filled with wine, sold to the winery’s distributor, sold to a grocery chain, shipped to a retail location, and finally re-purchased by the consumer – that is, if the recycled glass is actually recycled.
As you can probably tell, it’s far more efficient to just wash and reuse a wine bottle than to recycle it. Both accomplish the same thing – reusing the wine bottle – but reusing cuts out on myriad consumption and cost.
+ Your grocery shopping model’s completely new. Will you walk me through how it works?
Definitely. Come on by for a tour!
+ Are you for or against GMO?
Against. There should be no surprise here. We’re committed to selling products that are non-GMO (genetically-modified organic) and non-GE (genetically-engineered). GMO and GE foods pose a risk to the health of our customers and fail to execute our mission: to sell real foods and enhance the health of our community.
Shopping at our Store
+ Why are dairy and meat products packaged at your store?
We wish we were able to offer waste-free options for “potentially-hazardous” foods (meat, dairy), which according to Texas Food Establishment Rules have to be sold in packaging. We’re working hard to begin a dialogue with the state regarding alternative solutions. We’d love for customers like you to help us make progress in this area.
For now, in.gredients is responsibly complying with:
“229.164 (h) (7) Refilling returnables.
(A) A take-home food container returned to a food establishment may not be refilled at a food establishment with a potentially hazardous food.
The City of Austin Code 10-3-2 (C) adopts by reference the Texas Food Establishment Rules, TAC, Chapter 229, Subchapter K.”
+ Do I have to bring my own containers to shop at your store?
No. While we encourage customers to bring their own containers, we’ll offer both reusable and compostable containers in the store for filling.
We promote the reuse of containers to reduce waste – that’s why we encourage our customers to bring their own containers. A little planning goes a long way to promoting sustainability.
+ Is in.gredients expensive?
That’s a loaded question that depends on many variables and assumptions. Bottom line, buying in bulk eliminates the cost of packaging and allows the buyer to allocate exact amounts of in.gredients to recipes / buy only how much they need – making even traditionally expensive items more approachable. We care about lowering the cost barrier to healthy, local foods, and want to make good food accessible to everyone.
+ Do you offer deli/premade food?
Yes, prepared foods are available. In some cases, depending on the type of food and the means required to keep it safe, this food will be sold in either compostable, highly reusable, and/or recyclable packaging.
+ How do you prevent cross-contamination from not-so-well-washed reuseable containers?
We follow best practices and guidelines for distributing bulk foods. We do everything we can and take extra steps to help minimize the risk of contamination in our store – including washing our scoopers/tongs multiple times every day and educate our customers on container safety. However, while our efforts will ensure a clean, healthy environment inside the store, we can’t guarantee flawless protection – no bulk store can.
Smaller bins and more frequent re-stocking will help minimize waste in the event a bin is deemed “contaminated.”
+ How do I keep track of what my containers weigh?
The first time you bring a container into the store, we’ll weigh it while it’s empty and put a permanent (and aesthetically unintrusive) mark on it indicating its tare weight. From that point forward, we’ll always be able to calculate [empty weight - filled weight] to determine item cost.
+ What forms of payment can I use at in.gredients?
We accept cash, credit, and debit as forms of payment.
+ Do you tailor your product selection to fit your community?
Absolutely. While anyone’s welcome to shop at our store, our small business model is geared toward serving our nearby neighborhoods. Our product selection will prioritize, in addition to what we define as “basic” ingredients, items our neighbors need or enjoy frequently.
A secondary goal of ours is to help bring good food to what most call “urban food deserts” – areas within a city in which commuting to grocery stores is complicated and long, and where the majority of food that’s practically available is the highly-processed, generally unhealthy food found in the typical American corner store. It’s more important for in.gredients to open in these areas than to expand into areas that already have easy access to great food.
The Bigger Picture
+ You guys are the silver bullet needed to fix the grocery industry.
Well, no. While we’re prioritizing local food, oil will still be consumed during the delivery of those goods because we live in a world that still runs on oil. While we’re going to hand-pick local farmers and vendors to supply our wide selection of food, we can’t guarantee we’ll carry that-one-ingredient-you-need-for-mom’s-recipe. The truth is, we’re out to fix a lot of things: packaging waste, education, health, the local food economy…but our store alone isn’t the fix-all.
At best, we hope to show people that shopping sustainably is possible and practical. We want to educate our community on eating healthily, improve our local food economy, and show the industry that zero-waste isn’t as out of reach as most think. If we help lessen our dependence on oil and rock the packaging industry’s boat a bit, great – but that’s icing on the cake. in.gredients won’t change the world – you will. The more people we have supporting us, the more other people will notice the changes that we can all make to live more sustainably.