Restaurant Review: in.gredients
This zero-waste, packaging-free grocery store is more than just sustainable and convenient, it's en.joyable
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., Aug. 31, 2012
Mon.-Wed., 9am-10pm; Thu.-Sat., 9am-11pm; Sun., 10am-10pm
2610 Manor Rd.; 275-6357; www.in.gredients.com
It is an idea whose time has come: a zero-waste, packaging-free grocery store. Though recycling is great, one does start to wonder why all that plastic and glass is necessary in the first place. In the United States, up to 40% of the cost of our food is in the packaging alone, which we usually just throw away. By taking our own containers and reusing them (as people did in the olden days), a tremendous amount of waste and carbon emissions are simply avoided.
By offering foods that are both pure and package-free, in.gredients hopes to promote sustainability on many levels. But in.gredients has even more to offer than sanity with a chaser of idealism: Shopping there is so easy, it's practically restful. You see, the store itself is small, but they cover all the bases. "We're a grocery store in scope, but a convenience store in scale," says store manager Brian Nunnery. "We have everything, but only one brand of most things, not 50 brands of each item like a conventional store." If you are like me, frequently irritated that I have to navigate a gigantic loop to merely retrieve the one item I stopped for, you're going to love this place. After shopping there twice, I begged them to open their second location in my neighborhood.
Naturally, most of the store consists of bulk bins, containing items like rice, beans, flours, cereals, coffee, teas, spices, dried fruits, nuts, and the like. Bulk vats dispense honey, maple syrup, tamari, oil, vinegar, dishwashing soap, and agave nectar. Peanut butter and tahini are scooped from vats. Texas law requires that dairy and eggs be sold refrigerated, so in.gredients carries Organic Valley products; fresh vegetables from local farms fill another refrigerator case. Organic, local, and pastured meats are kept frozen. Prices are very competitive, so you don't even have to pay a premium for the convenience and speed of your shopping experience.
In case that isn't enough, they also serve (on tap from the barrel of course) an array of local beers, Wunder-Pilz kombucha, Pedernales Cellars wines, Leprechaun Cider, and Third Coast cold-brewed coffee. There are also breads from Easy Tiger, treats from Cake and Spoon, Rockstar Bagels, Mmmpanadas, Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery doughnuts, and fresh, hot coffee in the morning.
Just be sure to remember to bring a shopping bag full of empty jars!