The Organic Traveller
Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Salzburg: Zero Waste

While buying organic requires little effort in Salzburg, minimizing waste is an entirely different issue. If you wish to carry home your purchases in your own re-usable containers you depend on the cooperation of the shop, which even in organic supermarkets can be surprisingly little. Support usually comes from smaller, owner-driven groceries just as Frau von Grün five minutes south of Mirabellplatz. Here you can fill your jars and boxes with grains, rice, cereals, nuts, dry fruit, tea and other dry food from gravity bins. Dairy products and prefab beverages are sold in deposit bottles, you won't find pre-packaged fruit and veges, and you can even refill detergents and other household chemicals. If you come without your own containers you can buy returnable jars.

Frau von Gruen

The place is pleasant, spacious with the air of a practical farmer's shop where the occasional sin of buying a plastic bag of sweets is possible, too. On special occasions local artisans (like an Easter egg painter before Easter) are invited to demonstrate their craftmanship on premise, and seminars on eating trends are held from time to time. Have a smoothie, freshly made juice or tea, breakfast, cake, a soup or a sandwich at the bar to chat with Frau von Grün herself, and don't be surprised that the place keeps open on weekdays only.

To add Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen to your shopping bag take your jars to the Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace, and politely ask to fill them. Unfortunately this was the only organic booth at this daily farmer's market I spotted during my visit, and it's there on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Offsite tourist tracks but on your way to Hellbrunn castle or zoo you'll find the only Salzburg branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic which allows you to shop almost all daily necessities without producing non-compostable waste.

2018-09-18 16:30:00 [Salzburg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, deli, market, breakfast, snacks] Link

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Saturday, 08 September 2018

Vienna: Organic ice-cream

Fortunately an increasing number of small-scale organic cattle farmers find creative ways to survive for the good of all of us -- and with some dairy cow farmers like the Kaemenas in Bremen or the Greisslers in Lower Austria the good is simply the best -- mouth-watering artisanal ice-cream!

Eis-Greissler Rotenturmstr. In the case of Eis-Greissler the ice-cream isn't fully organic -- it's made from organic milk and often flavoured with organic Sonnentor spices. The home-base for the ice-cream parlours with the chequered, pastel-shaded doll's house interior is Vienna, and usually you will be able to recognise the tiny shop near Stephansdom by the queue in front of it. The blackboard with the ice-cream flavours you'll notice when queueing from the right lists only the vegan flavours, there's a second blackboard left to the entrance listing the dairy varieties. A small scoop comes at 1.60 €, two flavours at 3 €, three at 4.20 €.

Prices however aren't the same everywhere: The bicyle-powered mobile ice-cream boothes (supplied with fresh ice-cream by cargo bikes) on the grounds of Schönbrunn castle and zoo charge a hefty 2.20 € the scoop.

More to try

During my research I also found the following ice-cream parlours trustworthily using organic ingredients, but I did not have the time to try them myself. If you do so let me know about your experience!

2018-09-08 12:10:00 [Vienna, Wien, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, coffee] Link

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Friday, 07 September 2018

Organic Prague

The Bohemian kitchen serves a lot of (conventional) meat, and vegetarian places usually do neither use organic ingredients -- eating out can be quite a challenge in beautiful and historial Prague. My favourite restaurant from many years ago unfortunately does no longer exist, so I had to start almost from scratch, and my time in the city was limited. The good news: You have no longer to be a strict follower of a wholefood diet if you prefer organic food. But compared with capitals of neighbouring countries there's still a gap to close.

Country Life Melantrichova

Daily necessities

Founded in the 1990-ies the organic grocery Country Life has developed into a small organic supermarket chain since. The shops still look like small health food shops and concentrate on wholefood, but provide you with a sufficient selection of fresh and dry organic food, dairy products as well as vegan alternatives. Bread, rolls and pastries bought by the piece as well as fruits and veges aren't pre-packaged, and there is a good selection of dry food available from zero-waste dispensers, so come with your own bags and containers. Note that, except for the one in the old town, all Country Life shops are closed on both, on Saturdays and Sundays, and all of them close as early as between 6 and 7 pm.

Also in Prague you will find a number of franchises of the German DM chemist's chain which will provide you with a good selection of organic dry goods and natural bodycare. Their own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are affordable even if your budget is tight.

Restaurace Country Life

Eating out

If you found the Country Life grocery in the old town, Stare Mesto, head into the small alleyway to its left, where you find Prague's eldest still existing organic restaurant, the Restaurace Country Life. The interior resembles a typical Czech beer restaurant, and the place serves hearty Bohemian food indeed, however all vegetarian and dairy-free. Note that this self-service place -- just like the grocery -- is closed on Saturdays.

There is also an eatery on the premises of the Country life shop in Dejvice (Mind the quite restricted opening hours), and the convenience store in Jungmannova street will provide you with snacks.

Puro Kaprova

Coffee and ice-cream

For the hip coffee bar cum ice-cream parlour head for one of the Puro shops in town who decidedly do not sell "zmrzlina" but "gelato". The one nearest to tourist tracks is located two street corners from tube stop Staromestska, where you almost cannot miss the red-white checkered window front which hides a pastell-coloured self-service cafe. Queue, order, pay and pick up your certified kosher ice-cream made from organic milk. A small scoop (one flavour) comes at 50 crowns, a medium one (two flavours) at 90 crowns. If you ordered coffee drinks, milk shakes made with organic milk or cakes they will be served later on the seat you choose. Coffee and chocolate unfortunately aren't organic, only certified by the Rainforest alliance, and it is not quite clear whether the shop also uses the organic brown sugar which is on sale as the sugar served with the coffee is not organic.

More to try

During my research I found the following places that seemed likely to sell or serve at least partially organic food and drinks, but I did not had the time to check them out myself. If you do I'd appreciate if you let me know whether they actually do so!

Eco but not organic

The following hotel, located in a former baroque monastery claims to be an eco hotel but confirmed not to serve any organic breakfast items. If you intend to stay there ask for it in the hope that customer demand may have the power for change.

Ceased to exist

The following places are temporarily closed, shut down or were replaced by other, not organic ones, and are listed here as you still find them on the web:

2018-09-07 08:00:00 [Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery] Link

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Thursday, 06 September 2018

Munich: Zero Waste

Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.

You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles.

Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods. Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you -- depending on the shop -- can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.

Farewell to plastics

The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, a pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz where you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. The focus of the shop is an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings, but you may also shop a selection of food items like potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget to bring your own jars your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from re-used glass containers for free. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent.

Ohne

No wrappings

February 20th, 2016 the city's first and only zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos. It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and solid shampoo. There are also refill stations for washing liquids and cleansers, and you can shop from a small range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.

Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight.

This crowd-funded supermarket is strictly organic and vegetarian. When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.

Supermarket chains to follow

In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, and independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food.

To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. So you'll better find your nearest Herrmannsdorfer grocery to buy meat in your own box, e.g. the one on Max-Weber-Platz.

Detergents refill station Basic Bogenhausen At the Basic self-service cafes you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme. The supermarket chain also introduced dispensers reliably offering a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains. Individual markets (e.g. Basic Bogenhausen) have coffee, tea and more. Basic supermarkets selling toiletries and household chemicals may have dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. (The one in Bogenhausen does so.) These dispensers allow only to refill the standard volumes the choosen detergent is sold by when pre-bottled, i.e. you cannot refill smaller than the original bottles. So make sure you have at minimum a 1 l or 2 l bottle with you. If not refilling original bottles take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping to your own bottle.

To buy dry goods the procedure varies from branch to branch: Some like Basic Bogenhausen have prominently placed scales where you measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction. Others like the one near Isartor expect you to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content to the packaging you brought along (which can be quite tricky as they do not provide funnels). In the case of the latter you may not use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section. Recycle small plastic or paper bags to buy these or bring small, light-weight cotton-bags.

For buying fresh milk from grass-fed cows refill your milk bottles at the recently opened Vollcorner supermarket near Theresienwiese which also has a butcher's counter.

Neighbourhood groceries and farmers' markets

In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, olive oil, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter. Also for the olive oil refill you must bring a clean bottle yourself (but you have to wait for it until autumn 2018 since the 2017 harvest has been sold out).

Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing.

Once, sometimes twice a week farmers' markets are installed in many Munich neighbourhoods. Loose fruits and veges prevail here, and boothes selling organic produce (watch carefully for "bio" and "demeter" logos) will usually fill bread, cakes and pastries, antipasti, meat and dairy products into the containers you present. Notably at the boothes of the Tagwerk co-operative you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturdays mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.

Coffee to take away

Most cafes serving organic coffee are sufficiently aware of the coffee beaker waste issue that they will fill your own cup without hesitation. Some like Die Kaffee-Küche and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a discount for sparing the environment. There is an increasing number taking part in the recup.com retour scheme, among others the Neulinger bakeries or Siggis coffee bar and restaurant.

2018-09-06 15:00:00 [Munich, Neubiberg, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch] Link

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Munich: Self-service eateries and streetfood

For an organic or at least partially organic lunch you have far more options than full-fledged restaurants or cafes with lunch options: There are a lot of eateries mainly catering for people working or studying nearby, shopping or travelling. You order your food and drinks at the counter, pay and find a place to sit down with your tablet. However, if you come off the peak hours you will often be served, or the staff will offer to bring your coffee to your table after you finished your meal.

Just a few years ago this type of eating opportunity was almost exclusively offered by owner-run organic groceries, usually taking the form of hearty vegetarian wholefood and sandwiches. Nowadays it's a much more volatile market -- hip places come and go more frequent than in other categories. Many of them have opening hours matching those of the cornershops -- closed on Sundays, in the evening, and often also on Saturday afternoons.

Near the university (Maxvorstadt)

The streets near the university buildings in Maxvorstadt are a natural place to look for places offering organic food, and they've seen a lot of shops popping up and closing down. Two long-established, though very different eateries are worth a try, both located in Amalienstraße: the Mutter Erde grocery offering vegan meals and the Pommesboutique grill. The latter was one of the first places in town to take no compromises with regard to meat, but it is following a more laissez-faire approach when it comes to the veges and condiments. So you have to ask about the origin of the latter if you care. All the sausages, burger patties, köfte and other (minced) meat come from an organic farm in the vicinity, and you can choose from a huge range of sauces. If you prefer your fries chewy -- this is the place for you. Sometimes the tables are a bit too greasy for my liking, but with a little luck you come along when they have live music.

If you prefer your meat the Mexican way walk around the corner into Schellingstraße for Pureburrito, the second branch of a small climate-neutrally cooking local fast food chain serving burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. Unfortunately only pork and beef are organic, not the chicken, and you will find organic softdrinks of the Bionade brand in the fridge. There's another branch (much) farther up the street, near tube station Theresienstraße. All Pureburrito branches are closed on Sundays.

City center

To find organic food late on an evening out is a challenge in itself -- night birds usually do not tend to be picky about the origin of calories at this hour. But if you enter the party zone Sonnenstraße (or spend an evening in one of the cinemas) the Bikini Mitte deli and bar comes to the rescue, conveniently located opposite a petrol station. During the day it's a decent, partially organic eatery offering bowls and sandwiches, usually made with organic veges, alongside organic soft drinks of the Proviant and Charitea brands. Bread and meat (apart from the occasional pulled pork) are not organic. Apart from Sunday the place keeps open until midnight, catering until the early hours Thursday through Sunday, and since the bar stocks locally produced organic gin, wodka and amaro (alongside a wide range of conventional spirits) your drinking can always be responsible. The place may be known as "Bon Valeur" to locals as this is its former name (and the name of the company running it).

Another organic institution of old is Byoo near Isartor, formerly known as "Basic Bistro" which had to change name when the organic supermarket on the first floor opened its own self-service eatery. But claim the stairs to this 100 percent organic place run by a friendly Vietnamese family, their extremely tasty, perfectly spiced (vegan) Saigon soup is worth it! Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores are all catered for with a happy fusion cuisine, often with an oriental touch. If you can't decide for one of the usually two soups and six main courses on the daily changing menu you can still pick from the antipasti and salads bar. A family-friendly place they will happily heap a helping of a side dish on your plate if you ask. They usually do not offer dessert, instead have a freshly squeezed smoothie or an Italian-style coffee and cake, or simply a freshly brewed mint tea made from fresh herbs. Bring along your own jars if you you wish to take your food with you.

When taking a stroll through the Viktualienmarkt market gourmet restaurants like the Tian aren't your only lunch option: A few steps away (opposite Schrannenhalle) you'll find Yum 2 Take, an (evening open) Thai eatery and take-away serving organic meat.

Hearty, fully organic German lunch is being served at the Bistro ÖQ in the back of the Virtualienmarkt branch of the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten organic butcher's. Usually you will be waited but better keep your eyes open whether it seems more appropriate to order directly from the open kitchen and at the end go and pay there. Naturally this is a place for omnivores and meat-lovers but there's always a tasty vegetarian dish available. The kitchen draws both, from German and Italian countryside kitchen traditions, serving mouth-watering risotti and pasta dishes as well as a piece of meat or fish with side-dishes, following seasonal availability and properly prepared. For the real Munich experience do not miss their potato salad (not suitable for strict vegetarians, though)!

Carnivores and beer-lovers are also catered for a few steps away, in the mumble-jumble of Viktualienmarkt: The market stall of Kleiner Ochs'nbrater ("little ox grill") serves Munich fast food specialities, which naturally means beer and meat. Have a Leberkäs (meat loaf), sausage or pork roast (Schweinebraten) -- (except for the beef and some side dishes) it's all organic, locally sourced and tasty -- as are the Brezn (pretzel) and the drinks (beer, wine, softdrinks). It can be difficult to find a place to sit down, so watch out before you order a dish on a plate. Even though the Viktualienmarkt is a tourist hot spot, it's one where tourists and locals mingle (opposed to e.g. the legendary Hofbräuhaus). On nice weather days the grill may keep open a little longer than 6 pm. Note that it is closed both, on Mondays and Sundays.

Near Ostbahnhof station

Haidhausen with its majority vote for the Green Party has several organic hotspots, and one of them is Elsässer Straße East of Bordeauxplatz. A few steps from Haidhauser Oase, next to an organic bakery and opposite the organic neighbourhood grocery Lebascha you'll find Erbil's, the only vegan doner kebap shop in town. Instead of meat you'll get organic seitan, and some (but not all) of the vegetables also are organic. Choose an organic softdrink or beer from the fridge, but have an eye on organic labels since not everything is organic. They also serve organic tea or tisanes.

On the East side of the railway tracks, inside the developing Werksviertel party, start-up, and cultural area there's a Pureburrito branch serving Mexican style street food with organic pork and beef (see here). Unfortunately party-goers will be disappointed since it offers only lunch -- on weekdays.

Bogenhausen

There's a second Herrmannsdorfer Bistro ÖQ near Effner-Platz (also see here), and the Basic supermarket near tube-stop Richard-Strauss-Straße offers sandwiches, salads and hearty (though quite boring) stews for lunch.

Schwabing

The Yum 2 take Thai restaurant has a second branch on Hohenzollernplatz.

Ludwigsvorstadt and Sendling

A few meters from tube station Goetheplatz you'll find the mother branch of the Pureburrito chain.

Tube stop Implerstraße is the right direction for the best (and partially organic) falafel in town: The Beirut Beirut offers outdoor seating (and a few bar stools inside) only, but it's definitely worth it even when the weather is bad. In this case (or my general advise) have a falafel and continue your break at the sister restaurant Manouche diagonally across the street offering Levantine "pizza", coffee, sweets and other delicious snacks.

Hadern

A short walk from tube stop Großhadern you'll find a Vollcorner supermarket with a work day open, 100 percent organic breakfast and lunch restaurant, boringly dubbed Cucina. From 11:30 am to 3 pm you can choose between a soup, salads and three or four daily changing, freshly prepared main courses, one of them meat or fish, the remaining ones vegan and vegetarian, drawing from local and mediterranean kitchens. In the morning you may step by for breakfast, on Fridays also in the Bavarian version as Weißwürste (veal sausage) and Leberkäs (meat loaf). Quiches, cakes, coffee and snacks are to be had until closing time at 4 pm.

Westend

The newly opened Vollcorner supermarket on Schwanthalerhöhe (next to Theresienwiese and hence good to know if you attend the annual Oktoberfest beerfest) has a deli cum cafe which invites for a small meal or snack.

Shut down

The following (partially) organic eateries are closed for good:

2018-09-06 11:00:01 [Munich, organic, bar, eatery, lunch, coffee, vegan, vegetarian, Bavarian, German, Lebanese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, grill, burgers, doner_kebap, falafel, streetfood, Maxvorstadt, Haidhausen, Hadern, Sendling, Werksviertel, Westend] 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.