Monday, 27 August 2018
Organic wholesale in the capital of Saxony (which is governed by a red-red-green coalition) used to be dominated by the local economy,
but since the oldest organic supermarket in town, Biosphäre, became part of the nation-wide Denn's chain in 2018, the picture has been resembling the one in other German metropolises: The market is devided between two local actors, a regional one and two of the nation-wide operating grocery chains, with a hand-full of smaller corner shops filling niches.
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.
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.
The former Biosphäre markets are located here: the older one on Königsbrücker Landstraße opposite Schauburg theatre, and an even larger one in Alaunstraße a few metres from Albertplatz which replaced a conventional supermarket. Both have a self-service area where you can have coffee, cakes, pastry, sandwiches at any time of the day, and soups for lunch. Students are entitled a 10 percent discount on Wednesdays.
Berlin-based organic supermarket chain Bio Company has a branch a little south along the tramway tracks on Königsbrücker Landstraße. Just like the Denn's branches it closes at liberal 9 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.
With the train stations as landmarks you can't miss your way to the next organic supermarket in the heart of the city: 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: Here the VG Biomarkt, an organic cooperative opened an entire organic warehouse on the premises of a former newspaper printing plant. Standing back from the main street the first floor is occupied by an organic convenience store supporting your zero-waste efforts: Apart from buying pre-packaged items, fruits and veges you can also fill dry goods into your own jars. On the second floor there's a well assorted organic fashion store mainly for babies, children and women, with a section offering organic body care, household chemicals, sustainably produced toys, stationary and more.
For members prices are lower, but the warehouse is open to everyone.
On weekdays the bistrot directly facing the street offers delicious lunch (only snacks on Saturdays), 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 opens at 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.
The Denn's Biomarkt chain not only took over the two former Biosphäre markets in the Neustadt but also opened a new supermarket within the Altmarktgalerie shopping mall.
Striesen, Blasewitz, Loschwitz, Johannstadt
VG Biomarkt also has branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz, of which the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.
The Loschwitz branch dubbed VG Balsamico is conveniently located
opposite the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway ("Schwebebahn") next to
Körnerplatz at the northern end of Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") bridge.
On the other side of the 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".
Bühlau, Weißer Hirsch
To find fully organic groceries on top of the hillside North of the Blaues Wunder bridge, in the elegant residential area of Weißer Hirsch and adjacent Bühlau interestingly proves to be more difficult. What I found instead was the shop of a small-scale vegan manufacturer, Vegannett (a pun made of the words "vegan" and "nice", while the second part of the name also refers to the name of the owner-founder, Annett). On the premises of a former partially organic butcher's shop she prepares vegetable spreads which you can buy in many of the aforementioned supermarkets. But if you happen to be there on a Wednesday afternoon, pay a visit, taste and shop. In addition to the spreads you can also buy local honey.
If you fancy a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide or are on the way from or to the airport make sure to have sufficient time to visit the beautifully restored historical train station Klotzsche with its
Vorwerk Podemus supermarket and the organic station restaurant, both catering for the early bird.
The following (partially) organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, lunch, snacks, coffee, zero_waste, vegan, trainstation]
Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Right after arrival at Venezia Santa Lucia train station, you may arm yourself for the queueing at the waterbus ticket office with a delicious ice-cream, milk-shake or granita from Gelateria Grom fronting the entrance hall towards Canal Grande. They use organic milk, some organic fruit, only natural ingredients and of course no additives, and have in general a eco-conscious agenda. Above all the ice-cream is gorgeous, and a favourite of the locals, too, as can be seen by the increasing number of often crowded Grom branches in Italian cities. For the ice-cream you have to specify a size -- small, medium or large -- and can choose a suitable number of varieties; up to two varieties for the small, and up to three for medium size. For something special (or if you are vegan) try a granita water ice slush (medium or large), especially when espresso granita is available -- it will easily take you through a summer night.
Grom has three more, in fact older branches in Venice, one of them on Campo San Barnaba square. If departing the waterbus at Ca' Rezzonico stop you can't miss it when following the only way into the open of the square and keep an eye on the left side.
On local websites the owner of Gelateria Alaska, a small whole-in-the-wall shop near Campo Santo was dubbed "king of organic ice-cream in Venice", so I went there to try and ask. While the all-natural ice-cream itself was perfectly palatable he told me that the main ingredients, milk and sugar, were too expensive, but he would occasionally use organic fruit and spices. Unfortunately he couldn't tell me whether any of the flavours on display contained organic ingredients that day.
If you read my post on Rovigo you may be tempted to try Gelato Fantasy in Calle dei Fabbri. DON'T! They are not connected with the Gelateria Fantasy in Rovigo, and they definitely do not use organic ingredients.
Ceased to exist
The following place does no longer exist, though you find still find references on the web:
[Venice, Venezia, organic, ice-cream, coffee, cafe, trainstation]
Saturday, 07 April 2018
Hauptbahnhof (main station) is not just
Europe's largest head train station with fine arched halls and a generous concourse, it's also home to
a Sunday-open two-storey shopping mall dubbed "Promenaden". The shops are predominantly branches of the same boring chains as everywhere but since organic products have been entering the main stream this mall not only gives you the opportunity to replenish stocks when everything else is closed but allows the traveller to quickly shop for organic provisions while changing trains or while the locomotive of their train is being exchanged.
The mall is situated below track level, just walk right away to the arrival hall and take the escalator stairs down. All shops mentioned here are located on ground floor, i.e. one level below the long distance trains.
The Eastern-most part of the mall (to the right when facing the tracks) houses a branch of the DM Drogeriemarkt
offering an abundance of certified organic dry goods, preserves, drinks, natural body care and eco-friendly household chemicals (see here for a detailed description), in short: everything you need while travelling except for fresh and frozen food.
Still in the East wing though more central you'll find a Vitalia wholefood market which in addition to dry goods, sweets and snacks, toiletries and detergents also sells fresh food: Here you can get organic bakery items and and sandwiches, fresh dairy products and a small selection of organic fresh fruit and veges. Prices here are more upmarket than at the DM branch, and you have to check for organic labels, too, though to a lesser extend. If in doubt the staff is more competent than the one in the drugstore superstores.
In the West wing of the Promenaden the Rossmann drugstore offers a good selection of organic dry goods, preserves, drinks and natural body care, though less than DM. If in a hurry you can buy the following brands without hesitation: "Alverde", "Lavera", "Weleda" and most of "Dresdner Essenz" (toiletries), "EnerBio" and "Veganz" (food, the latter is entirely vegan).
Finally a 100 percent organic supermarket is coming to the Western entry of the mall: A pop-up store of the nation-wide operating Alnatura chain is operating all days except Sunday where an Alnatura Express supermarket is to be opened April 19, 2018. This poses a difficult question to the eco-conscious traveller: Should I have an organic coffee on the go in a one-way cup from the Alnatura coffee bar or do I rather prefer a wasteless yet conventional espresso in the beautiful bookshop cafe Ludwig on track level? I'd love to recommend the latter in this blog but the only organic item on offer is organic syrup to flavour the coffee. The coffee bar used to have organic apple spritzer but unfortunately no longer. With its beautiful ceiling the well-assorted bookstore however is worth visiting in its own right.
[Leipzig, organic, vegan, gifts, snacks, lunch, supermarkets, grocery, trainstation, coffee, books]
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing already between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping.
Fortunately shops within Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, have quite liberal opening hours, hence unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you're safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.
A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products (and non-dairy alternatives), drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the BetterLife health-food shop (Reformhaus). Apart from the bakery booth, you have however to check for organic labels as about half the products on sale aren't organic or certified natural cosmetics.
With their natural cosmetics own brand "Alterra" Rossmann drugstores like the one you'll enter when climbing the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub offer an alternative for the small purse. The branch keeps open 16 hours a day (14 on weekends on bank holidays) and stocks a good selection of organic dry goods (check for organic labels).
[Bremen, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation]
Sunday, 20 August 2017
As you might have noticed from the restaurant reviews Stockholm is full of small-scale local food chains -- the majority of them with two or three branches when counting in the day-open cafes covered by this post.
When entering Stockholm C train station through the main entrance and immediately descending to the basement you'll notice the bright green signature colour of the Coop supermarket store (which, by the way, should be able to provide you with sufficient organic food for your trip). With its entrance in your back you'll easily discover a branch of the city's first and so far only fair-trade coffee chain
Barista. Fine when you're on the go, but they also have a real cafe in Söder. Coffee and milk are organic as is the yogurt you may have for breakfast and the majority of all ingredients used in salads, sandwiches and scones. Their aim is to have a fully organic store cupboard in the very near future but do not promise anything for fresh produce. If you stay in Stockholm for a while you may consider a customer card which entitles you for a ten percent discount on your purchase and an Ethiopian school child for a free meal.
If you're looking for a place to work alongside a tasty coffee drink (made with organic milk if not plain) head
Johan&Nyström coffee roaster's bar and co-working space in Kungsholmen. You can rent a working place
or meeting room by the
hour, day or month, and enjoy organic
juice or iced tea. Not all the coffees and teas you may want to buy for use at home are organic, and you have to ask about the ingredients of the (absolutely tasty)
toasted sandwiches and pastries. Note that the place accepts
There are two more Johan&Nyström cafes in town, one near Mariatorget (shop, class room, coffee and tea bar) and a coffee house in Östermalm. The latter will offer co-working space and meeting rooms starting autumn 2017.
Note that the opening hours given below apply in summer. In the dark season many shops including these open later and close earlier.
If you walk or cycle along Folkungagatan in Söder you might pay attention to a shop window filled with bicycles.
Bicycle shops aren't an attraction on its own right in bicycle-friendly Stockholm, but you may want to have a closer look at this one, as Café Le Mond isn't just a bicycle (repair) shop, but a cyclist cafe offering partially organic breakfast, soups, salads and sandwiches. On Tuesdays and Fridays there's a breakfast buffet (cyclists are entitled a discount), and on weekends you can have brunch.
On weekdays between 11am and 2pm there's free coffee with your meal.
Since I could not make it inside, I'm happy to hear about your experience.
In and around museums
If you're on a tourist's track you may find relieve in that an organic coffee drink at Moderna Museet on Skeppsholmen is easy to have -- not at the museum's cafe bar itself, but at the entrance to
Arkitektur - och designcentrum next door. Here you find Café Blom, a cosy self-service cafe with a serene outdoor terrace accessible without a ticket to the museum. Bread and pancakes, most lemonades and some of the ingredients of the tasty and nourishing salads or sandwiches are organic but stay away from shrimps, mayonnaise, chicken and meat products.
For an all organic coffee or lunch break head for Fotografiska cafe inside the museum of photographic art. Unlike the museum's restaurant it is however not accessible without a ticket to the exhibition.
Arriving early at Stockholm C and fancy a 100 percent organic breakfast? Take the short walk to
Café Genuin, a somewhat hidden organic bakery. For later on the day
lunch sandwiches, wraps and salads
are available, too, and of course a coffee or soft drink, roll or fancy pastry.
In the heart of Gamla Stan you'll find Naturbageriet Sattva, a holistic, predominantly vegan organic bakery, not using refined sugar. Step by for a soft drink, decent coffee (with organic cow's milk if you like) and a tasty cinnamon roll (kanelsnurra), but scan the organic labels on the pre-packaged beverages as not all of them are organic. In summer they also offer pre-packaged vegan organic ice-cream. Seating is limited, especially when the weather disallows for outdoor tables on the street.
When the weather is nice the island of Djurgärden is humming with locals and tourists alike, and all places covered in this section keep open only when a steady stream of visitors can be predicted.
In winter all of them are closed, and opening hours outside the light summer season quite restricted. Places inside the theme parks require the purchase of a ticket.
On the water-facing promenade inside Gröna Lund entertainment park the Boardwalk Café offers organic and fairly traded coffee drinks and tea on the go. Note that the cinnamon roll adverted as a package with the coffee is neither of both. The opening hours match those of the entertainment park.
Inside Skansen outdoor museum you'll find a self-service Koloni outdoor cafe covered by the eateries and restaurants section. Note that the opening hours of this predominantly organic place are more restricted than those of the museum itself.
Open to all tour goers on Djurgården is decidedly sustainable
Rosendals Trädgårdskafé. Unfortunately I couldn't make it there during their opening hours, so no review here (yet). Note that the place accepts cards only.
Waiting for a flight is tedious, and having an overpriced coffee at an uninspiring airport coffee bar an efficient way to kill the time. Fortunately Arlanda allows you to do this with a better conscience, with tea brewed from an organic tea bag or an organic, fairly traded coffee drink served with organic milk in a real ceramic cup instead of a one-way plastic or cardboard one. To do so
on international terminal 5 watch out for the Lavazza sign presiding over an otherwise boring place dubbed Food market. They also offer 0.2l tetrapaks with organic orange or pear juice.
There are also two Johan & Nyström coffee bars at terminals 2 and 4.
[Stockholm, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, Arlanda, airports, trainstation]