The Organic Traveller
Wednesday, 01 March 2017

Dresden: Organic supermarkets

Organic wholesale in the capital of Saxony (which BTW is governed by a red-red-green coalition) is dominated by the local economy, and the largest density of organic supermarkets can naturally be found in the vibrant Wilhelminian style quarter of Neustadt north of the river Elbe with its -- gentrification aside -- still predominantly left-wing population of artists, students, activists, tourists, hipsters and bourgeois green-party voters.

Neustadt

It hasn't been always this way, but walking the old streets of Innere Neustadt with open eyes will present you with an abundance of shops and eateries boosting of vegetarian and vegan products. Many of them use organic produce, but won't advertise it -- partially because they blend with conventional products, and use of organic ingredients will vary, partially in fear of being prejudged as expensive. Fortunately it is nowadays easier to find an organic supermarket in this neighbourhood than a conventional one, so if you're tired of asking just walk to the next crossroad, and there you are.

Dresden's oldest organic supermarket Biosphäre took over the outlet of a conventional predecessor, and features now two branches: the older one on Königsbrücker Landstraße opposite Schauburg theatre, and the new, and even larger one in Alaunstraße a few metres from Albertplatz. Both have a self-service area where you can have coffee, cakes, pastry, sandwiches at any time of the day, and soups for lunch.

Berlin-based organic supermarket chain Bio Company has a branch a little south along the tramway tracks on Königsbrücker Landstraße. Though as boring as bigger chains tend to be this is the Neustadt-based organic supermarket with the most liberal opening hours -- to your rescue if you need to shop after 8 pm.

If you despair in face of the piles of plastics and paper wrappings you've been collecting while doing your regular shopping, re-use your glasses, containers and bags and refill them at Lose, a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. You will be charged by weight. They do not limit themselves to selling dry food but offer veges and have a cheese counter as well. Since not everything is organic be careful to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask. The coffee corner is a nice place to recreate while your kids are busy in the playing corner. Mind you: like other zero waste shops they do not illuminate their window front, so be brave to try the door handle -- the place looks quite dark even during opening hours.

Altstadt

There's no organic supermarket in the main shopping streets, but with the train stations as landmarks you can't miss your way. The Vorwerk Podemus grocery beneath track 3 in the eastern aisle of the central train station, Hauptbahnhof, is the only Sunday-open organic supermarket in town, with early and late opening hours. They will also sell you a coffee drink and sandwich to eat on the spot or to take away.

Bahnhof Mitte train station is your second chance: Directly opposite of the greenish-blue tower of the local newspaper's headquarter Pressehaus you'll find VG Biomarkt, an organic cooperative on the premises of the former newspaper printing plant. For members prices are lower, but the market is open to everyone. On weekdays they offer delicious lunch, and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists which (except on Mondays) opens half an hour before the supermarket itself, and closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Watch out on Mondays: The shop including its bistrot is open from 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.

Striesen, Blasewitz, Loschwitz, Johannstadt

VG Biomarkt has also branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz (next to the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway, Schwebebahn), however the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.

A few meters from Blaues Wunder bridge south of the river Elbe, local butcher's chain Vorwerk Podemus has one of its pleasant wholesale supermarkets. First address for shortly travelled organic meat of animals which had a decent life. They also have branches in the neighbourhoods of Gruna, Neustadt, Alttolkewitz as well as a farmshop.

Another option in the neighbourhood of Blasewitz is the second Bio Company branch in town. Just like in the Neustadt branch the bakery disk caters for the early bird from 7:30 am.

The only branch of a nation-wide operating organic grocery chain so far is Alnatura on tram hub Straßburger Platz which many locals still refer to by its old name from GDR times, "Fucikplatz".

Closed down

The following (partially) organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:

2017-03-01 07:30:01 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, supermarkets, lunch, snacks, coffee, zero_waste] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Dresden: Organic pubs and restaurants

Forget about sushi, pizza, pasta, burgers, curries and other globalized commonplaces -- in Dresden it's much easier to find hearty home-cooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients rooted in local and regional food traditions. This does not necessarily mean German -- mind you that the borders with Czechia and Poland are close, so many menus reflect influences rather from Eastern than Western or Southern European cuisines. Many dishes include meat, yes, but all the places I am covering here have a decent selection of tasty vegetarian options readily available.

The most sophisticated ones in town may be had at Lingner restaurant on the premises of the neoclassical German Hygiene Museum ("Deutsches Hygienemuseum") marking the Western end of the 1x2 kilometres spanning inner-city park areal of Großer Garten ("Great Garden"). While you can step by for an Italian-style coffee drink (made with organic milk) and organic cake or a snack after a visit to the medical museum this is ways from the usual low quality self-service refectory to be found in many museums. They serve simple but decent lunch, all meat and meat products come from a local organic butcher's, the bread (though not the ice-cream which isn't organic) from an organic bakery in town, and many veges are also locally sourced and organic. Dinner starting at 5:30 pm is more sophisticated, and often thematically extending a current exhibition at the museum. While the outdoor terrace is popular during the warm season, dinner time during the winter season featuring a stylishly presented all-you-can-it buffet is perfect if you prefer it less crowded. When it comes to drinks both tea, milk, juices and some soft drinks as well as all spirits printed in dark-green font on the menu are organic. There's however no organic wine on offer (although a good selection of local ones). Due to the somewhat remote location call in advance if you plan to arrive after 9 pm.

A ten minutes walk away, just across Kreuzkirche you will find Cafe Aha which is covered here. Even longer west, facing the modern building of the University of Music in Schützengasse you will be surprised to find a small island of baroque buildings with a wild garden, housing the city's environmental center, and a great disappointment: The cosy rustic wholefood restaurant on ground flour dubbed Brennnessel ("stinging nettle") once used organic ingredients and still can be found listed as an organic restaurant, but alas! -- no more.

For rustic food and surroundings head for one of the oldest independent pubs in town, the Planwirtschaft ("planned economy") in the Neustadt neighbourhood, popular since its beginnings as an illegal pub in the late GDR. On mezzanine level they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as coffee and cake while the basement houses a pub which opens in the evening. When it comes to their supplies they focus on buying from local farms and enterprises as the (unfortunately not organic) independent butcher's directly across the street or a tea shop next door from which they also source the organic teas on offer. The goat cheese is always organic, and they often have an organic meat dish (which is marked as "bio" on the menu). Have it together with a tasty organic beer, and ask about other organic ingredients.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2017-02-11 17:00:04 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Sunday, 01 January 2017

Nuremberg: Sustainable shopping

Nuremberg has a lot of independent small shops worth visiting in the main pedestrian area of the city centre (as long as you avoid the lanes occupied by global chains), and quite a number of them care about sustainability, fairness and the environment in some way or the other. The following shops except one are all located within walking distance within the city walls, and the list is totally biased, doing injustice to shops I simply did not recognise.

Nuremberg traditions

Drawing from Nuremberg's history as an important medieval trade centre on the crossroad of horizontal and vertical trade routes is the Wurzelsepp herbalist shop. In fact the shop was established in 1933, and you may question whether this should be positively connoted advertisement. I at least would have preferred to find a discussion of the shop's history in the Third Reich on their website. It's missing, so all you are left with is this beautiful shop, a realm of spices, teas, dried herbs, natural body care and perfumes, real frankincense, hand-made sweets, and more. Roughly estimated a quarter of it is organic, so check for labels or ask the helpful staff.

The abundance of exotic spices from the spice route traders and honey from the nearby forests caused the rise of the profession of the honey cake bakers ("Lebküchner") in the medievals. So even though Pfefferkuchen or Lebkuchen are a Christmas tradition you probably do not want to leave Nuremberg without locally produced gingerbreads. From end of October through December they are easy to find in every organic grocery, but outside the season your best bet is the gingerbread shop Wicklein which offers a small selection of organic varieties. They can be found at the back of the cashier's desk in green packaging, so simply head for the counter. And if you do not feel like gingerbread try their gorgeous chocolate-covered sourdough chips of the organic "Heidi backt" ("Heidi bakes") series.

Both shops are directly located on Hauptmarkt and keep open on Sundays during Christkindlesmarkt advent market.

Fair trade

Nuremberg proudly presents itself as a Fairtrade Town, and unlike in other cities fair trade shops can be found in the middle of the urban city centre. They are run by volunteers from church parishes, and traditionally offer a selection of sweets, herbs, spices, tea and coffee, dry goods, jewellery, fashion items, body care, stationary, home textiles, candles and other colourful gifts. Eatable items are predominantly organic, gifts and household items often made from recycled materials. Fresh food is not available, though both of the following shops sell bananas.

Easier to find is Fenster zur Welt ("Window to the World") near Hallplatz. It's also the spacier one of the two, and consequently offers a bigger selection. They do not hide the fact that they are a parish enterprise but there's definitely no proselytisation ongoing.

Lorenzer Laden (also referred to in its abbreviated form, Lola) is more intimate. Tucked away in a small alleyway East of Lorenzer Kirche it is totally secular in its presentation, and although their product range overlap to some extend, you will find a lot of things that the other shop does not offer.

More sweets, wines and gifts

Cosy confectioner's shop Chocolat close to Weißer Turm is a paradise for chocolat lovers. They offer a huge range of high quality chocolates of international provenience, often fairly traded, and to a noteworthy part organic. Check for labelling or ask the friendly ladies behind the bar. You can also treat yourself with a hot chocolate, though it's not organic. The entrance is facing Hutergasse, so do not be fooled by the address.

Once a start-up, nowadays a veritable organic specialist's chain, MyMüsli has a store near Hauptmarkt where you can buy dozens of cereals and porridges, and of late tea and coffee. They also offer free wifi.

If you fancy wine and a bicycle ride to the North-Eastern edge of town step by Die Weinhalle near Nordostparkt which I personally have not visited yet -- it was recommended by a friend. They specialize in natural wines, and a good selection of organic ones are among them. Alongside you can choose from a selection of delicatessen -- Italian antipasti, coffee, chocolates, etc., among them many organic ones. In the webshop you'll find organic products with a simple search for the "bio" keyword.

If you happen to be in Nuremberg in December, don't miss the annual sustainable winter market Winterkiosk at Künstlerhaus art's centre opposite the central station. It's always happening on a weekend, in 2016 December 10/11. Stroll around and let you inspire from art and handicraft. Most eatable and drinkable items are organic. The market charges a small entrance fee for adults (five euros in 2016).

If you wonder how a luxury organic department store looks like visit Grüne Erde at Hallplatz, a branch of a small Austrian chain. Traditionally they sell fairly produced furniture, bedding, cushions, home textiles, bathroom items and interior design stuff, all made from sustainably sourced natural and often organic materials. It would not be a department store if it did not offer luxury organic bodycare, candles, chocolates, sweets, dry goods and delicatessen as well as a small selection of liquors. Recently they added fashion basics like t-shirts to their sales mix. A pleasantly silent and nicely smelling oasis after a busy day -- until it comes to payment. They will ask you for your name and address to send you their catalogue and track your purchase, so be polite and tell them you do not want to be neither registered nor tracked (unless you really want it). Usually the shop assistants will comply without further questions, so don't feel tricked into giving details (or be prepared to give false information).

Fashion

See here.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2017-01-01 16:00:01 [Nuremberg, organic, fair, fashion, spices, delicatessen, gifts, shopping, bodycare] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Nuremberg: Groceries and bakeries

All big supermarket and drugstore chains in Germany by now offer a decent selection of organic products. Thus I'll restrict myself to mention places where you can avoid checking each item for an organic label thanks to the fact that they do not offer conventionally produced food.

The leading organic full retailer in Nuremberg is a local chain dubbed ebl Naturkost operating 13 supermarkets within the city boundaries, and more in the greater metropolitan area including the town of Fürth. The bigger ones incorporate a day cafe. Apart from this you will also find two branches of the nationwide operating Denn's supermarket chain.

While these supermarkets allow you to shop for daily necessities in a swift and efficient way, a more personal atmosphere is guaranteed in neighbourhood groceries like Bio und nah and Lotos in Gostenhof, Der grüne Laden ("The Green Shop") north-east of Friedrich-Ebert-Platz or the second Lotos branch at Unschlittplatz.

All of them cater for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike, but there's also a 100% vegan grocery, Lebe gesund ("live healthy") at Josephsplatz. The shop is part of a small chain offering fresh greens from their own fields as well as bread and cakes, yummy dried apple slices, pickles and preserves, vegan spread and sausages, pasta, pestos and more, all made from the harvest of their farm. The latter is driven in accordance with the ancient principle of three-field crop rotation justifying the upmarket prices. Some may however be hesistant to shop here as the chain is owned and driven by a controversial religious cult.

If you're fond of huge round loafs of German sourdough bread there's a less controversial source in town: the Munich-based organic bakery chain Hofpfisterei has a branch on the way from Hallplatz to Lorenzer Platz.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and where replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2016-12-31 17:00:07 [Nuremberg, organic, grocery, supermarket, bakeries, vegan, vegetarian] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Nuremberg: Sustainable, organic and eco fashion

Apart from the omnipresent fast fashion stores of H&M and C&A where it is, according to Greenpeace's Detox Catwalk, morally acceptable to buy cheap organic clothes, Nuremberg offers a selection of concept stores of smaller independent fashion labels with sustainable approaches. Although very different they have something in common: awareness for the environmental and social impact of fashion right from the start, durable products eco-consciously made in Europe, and slower fashion cycles. Of course, all of them sell online as well.

For streetware and young designer labels opt for Glore north of Weißer Turm, on your way downhill to the river Pegnitz. This is the place to look for fresh, exciting styles and vegan fashion, both, for men and women. All items on sale are certified, bearing trustworthy organic and fair-trade labels. They also have a small range of organic bodycare on sale.

Colourful ethno-inspired clothes for women, predominantly made from organic materials can be found at Gudrun Sjödén at the eastern end of Josephsplatz. The Swedish designer is an eco fashion pioneer, and presents her collections on models of all ages. Apart from clothes you will also find home textiles.

A few steps away in north-eastern direction, south of Karlsbrücke you'll find Deerberg, a concept store of a family-run business which started as a mail order firm for sustainably produced shoewear. Since they have been extending into clothes for women sustainably made in Europe which is the focus of the store. Unfortunately there are few organically produced textiles, and the styles are comparatively boring, but the shoes are worth a look as long as you do not shun leather.

2016-12-30 00:00:03 [Nuremberg, organic, fashion, fair, vegan, bodycare] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.