The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 24 March 2024

Munich: Organic supermarkets

Organic supermarkets can be found on almost every second street corner in Munich but density varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

Organic supermarket chains

In addition to a local organic supermarket chain, Vollcorner (consisting of about twenty markets in Munich and around), Munich hosts several branches of Germany's biggest organic chains Alnatura (14 markets in Munich and surroundings) and Denn's (10 markets in the greater Munich area, seven within the city boundaries).

Until mid of 2023 Munich was the home of the Basic supermarket chain with 11 markets – early in 2021 this chain restricted its activities to South Germany and Austria and sold all other nation-wide branches. However, these measures did not stop the decline of the company driven by management failures, which resulted in an insolvency. The Munich shops were taken over by the conventional supermarket chain teGut. Under the new management only the original Basic shop near Isartor and a second one near Nordbad are going to survive as organic supermarkets, at least until the end of 2024. After this grace period the company plans to evaluate whether 100 percent organic supermarkets will be part of their concept.

TeGut is not the first conventional full retailer experimenting with fully organic supermarkets: With the Naturkind supermarket in Harlaching the Edeka co-operative is also running an experimental organic supermarkt in Munich, their first and only in town.

With Basic on the verge, there are two regional full retail chains left in town: Landmann's with branches in several Bavarian towns, but only one within the Munich city boundaries (including an artisanal butcher's counter run by the Biometzgerei Pichler), and Vollcorner which does not have branches outside the Munich S-Bahn network. In addition there are still many small independent supermarkets, often using a Biomarkt sign, and even some homely, surviving corner shops.

Vollcorner has been making notable efforts to support zero-waste shopping for a long time, and burried many of them due to low customer acceptance. Shopping here you can however be sure not to (indirectly) support huge, globally operating multinational concerns as Vollcorner consistently delists organic brands sold to such companies. So you will find neither Logocos brands (Logona, Lenz, Sante, Heliotrop, Fitne) anymore since the company was bought by L'Oreal (which is partially owned by Nestle), nor Pukka tea (Unilever). Wine-lovers may also collect the corks made from natural cork and return them for recycling at any Vollcorner shop.

On weekdays most organic supermarkets keep open between 9 am and 8 pm, Vollcorner markets open at 8 am. Saturday opening hours vary, the big retailers and Vollcorner close at 8 pm. All groceries except the Biokultur supermarket in the basement of the central train station are closed on Sundays.

Apart from these full range retailers there is a small local food only chain, not offering any toiletries or detergents: Herrmannsdorfer specialises in meat products, bakery items and beer produced in the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten in Glonn, somewhat outside Munich. The shops close quite early, but if you come during daytime they stock sufficient dry food, dairy products, fruits, veges, sweets and more to spare you the trip to a second shop. Unlike the Basic chain Herrmannsdorfer allows you to buy meat in your own containers.

In 2015 a branch of the hyped Italian Eataly delicatessen chain opened within the architectonically interesting glass and iron construction of Schrannenhalle near Viktualienmarkt. It's true, they offer a good range of organic products, and organic food items are labelled as such on the shelves, but it's nevertheless a disappointing experience: Almost no fresh organic fruit and veges (not even the fresh herbs are organic), only pre-packaged organic meat (forget about the well-assorted meat counter), and the organic wines and spirits in the basement are not marked "bio" on the shelves, so it's very hard to find them.

Independent full-retailers

If you want to support the local economy, both Vollcorner, Munich-based Basic and Herrmannsdorfer shops are all fine, but you may prefer to support independent markets where the owners are actually running the stores and create a homely and personal atmosphere. Often you will find products not on sale by the big chains.

Mohrhof

When traditional Grüner Markt chain closed down end of September 2014, their main house in the Altperlach neighbourhood made an exception. Housed in a vault it has a pleasant italophilic, somewhat venerable atmosphere, definitely worth a visit. The perfect surroundings when shopping for delicatessen, and a must-go during the Christmas season. It's now dubbed Mohrhof Perlach.

The other big independent is Schmatz ("smack") in the Glockenbach neighbourhood. Step by if only for the lovely decoration of their bodycare section. Kids are invited to play in an old-fashioned corner shop, and selected items are lovingly set on display. It's the only organic supermarket playing music in the background. By the end of 2018 they issued a ban on fresh herbs in plastics packing, and in 2022 there's a dedicated unpackaged shelf with dry food in deposit glasses.

For the picturesque yet upmarket farmshop feeling in the city aim for Stemmerhof on top of the Sendlinger Berg. Once upon a time a wealthy village farm opposite the village church the nicely restored houses are now the home of an organic supermarket and a range of small owner-run shops. The supermarket's butcher's cum delicatessen disk will happily sell lunch snacks to eat on the spot or to take-away. The same enterprise also runs a second branch in the suburb of Grünwald, just a street crossing opposite of Alter Wirt hotel and restaurant.

Bioparadies

In the posh Lehel neighbourhood near the Eisbach river within the Englischer Garten park you'll find an independent organic supermarket with a touch of a spice and greens bazaar, the Bioparadies Biomarkt. Its friendly staff was even willing to open after closing time, to sell me a left-over bread on a Saturday afternoon. The serviced bakery and cheese counter is also the place to refill your spice jars with loose-weight herbs and spices. The supermarket is conveniently located opposite the tram stop "Paradiesstraße".

The former Erdgarten supermarket a ten-minutes walk away from Pasing train station (or two minutes from Pasing Marienplatz square) reopened as a branch of the local Vollcorner chain September, 2019 and continues to serve organic and vegetarian wholefood lunch as well as coffee and cake. They also have a nicely decorated bodycare section. Whether they'll continue to serve knitters with a fine selection of organic wool I am not aware of.

Biowelt

If you by chance happen to strand near the Klinikum Harlaching hospital, don't dispair: two tramstops in North-Eastern direction on the left side (just follow the tram line along Grünwalder Str.) you'll find Biowelt, a crammed independent organic supermarket with a superb selection of both, bodycare and frozen convenience products: All you need if visiting a friend or relative in the hospital in urgent need of a proper meal. Starting with lunch time they offer a helping of organic soup and a small selection of snacks. You may ask for a sandwich made on the spot. The shop also has a zero waste corner with dispensers for legumes and a small selection of other dry food as well as an assortment of dried fruit. Make sure to step by check-out to weigh your containers before you fill them.

Attending a conference at one of the huge Bogenhausen hotels near Effnerplatz? Your lunch break should be sufficient to follow Bülowstraße in Western direction to Herkomerplatz. Here you'll find not only a Herrmannsdorfer butcher's shop cum grocery cum eatery and the Hofpfisterei bakery branch next to it, but also a pleasant family-owned organic supermarket dubbed Biovolet. The Riemensberger family placed some bar tables in the entrance area to have a snack, and there is a second branch in Eching (formerly a Grüner Markt branch). Pay with your EC (VPay) debit card, and they donate a few cent to the BioBoden co-operative which buys farm land in order to lease it to organic farmers. On Thursdays you will receive a 10 percent discount if your shopping cart is worth more than 50 euros.

In the neighbourhood of Schwabing one of the oldest organic groceries in town is located, these days rather boringly dubbed Echt Bio Markt which is the brand of a network of small-scale independent organic supermarkets. The pleasant, traditional shop in Tengstraße offers refill for organic household detergents.

However. not all supermarkets of this brand have been long established: The independent owner-run Echt Bio Markt in Nymphenburg was opened during the lock-down of the covid-19 pandemic: As its name suggests Bio am Romanplatz is the perfect place to shop for provisions at the tram hub at Romanplatz.

There's only one Sunday-open organic supermarket in Munich, the Biokultur in the basement of the main train station. It's sister branch in the newly developed neighbourhood of Riem on the plot of the former Munich airport can be found inside the Riem Arcaden shopping mall, sporting the only organic cafe in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately neither the cafe nor the supermarket are open on Sundays or public holidays.

Roberts Bio-Genussmarkt

If you happen to take the S7 urban train in southern direction to the municipality of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn take the time to visit Roberts Bio-Genussmarkt on the premises of a former farmyard. The spacious, pleasantly refurbished and nicely decorated barn with its dark wooden shelfs makes it easy to spend some time on a coffee and cake in the included cafe area. When the weather is nice sun-shaded outdoor seating is provided. The former village of Höhenkirchen is part of the Mangfall bicycle route from Munich to Rosenheim, and this is a pleasant place for a break.

Waste-free supermarkets

By 2016 the first wrapping free supermarket made it into town: Check the zero-waste post for reviews.

Co-operatives with membership schemes

In the 1970ies and 1980ies many organic neighbourhood shops in Western Germany were co-operatively organised and sold to members only. In the 1990ies most of the surviving shops like the "Abakus" in Bremen opened to the general public, with discount schemes for members. To my knowledge, there's no such surviving shop in Munich, but recently established co-operatives such as "Deine Alternative" in Zorneding continue this inclusive approach.

As community supported agriculture (CSA) has an increasing appeal to city dwellers (the biggest one in Munich is the Kartoffelkombinat), the concept of an organic supermarket for members only came back to town in 2016, with the Ökoesel ("eco donkey"), by now a small, yet full-fledged organic supermarket in Nymphenburg near Leonrodplatz, focussing on package-free food.

When the founders of Munich's oldest organic supermarket, Lebascha in Haidhausen, were to pass over the shop to a younger generation in summer 2022, the Ökoesel folks stepped in. Although both branches focus on a membership scheme, they are neighbourhood groceries open to everyone. As a non-member you'll simply pay non-subsidised (i.e. higher) prices.

In summer 2021, another approach followed with the establishment of the Foodhub co-operative in Giesing, next to the lovely cafe "Shotgun Sister" and an organic bakery shop.

If you live in the vicinity you may consider joining this special organic food co-op which runs on the principle of solidarity: every member works three hours per month for or in the project and what's sold in the supermarket (predominantly regional produce) is decided democratically by its members. The shop concentrates on pre-packaged food, household and toiletry items, with the exception of loose weight fruits and veges, a small number of dry food gravity bins offering grains and nuts, and the self-service bread and rolls section. The household cleaning and bodycare shelves are filled with products in environmentally friendly packaging and focus on re-use (like the bamboo paper kitchen paper which can be washed and thus used several times) or little packaging through bigger volumes. There are plans for a zero-waste station to refill cleaning agents.

When I visited the shop at their open day in autumn 2021 I was surprised to not find a serviced fresh food counter given the fact that Karl Schweisfurt of Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten is one of the three legal heads of the co-operative, most likely due to the fact that such a counter needs to be staffed.

No membership fee is required for becoming a member of the on-line market platform Marktschwärmer. There's a Marktschwärmerei pick-up hub in the neighbourhood of Milbertshofen. If you decide to join, you can order food, beverages, sweets and more from predominantly organic producers in and around Munich.

Formerly organic supermarkets

As part of the "teGut" chain the following, former "Basic" supermarkets still offer a reduced assortment of organic products:

Closed down

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

2024-03-24 13:00:00 [Munich, Au, Bogenhausen, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Lehel, Maxvorstadt, Nymphenburg, Schwabing, Pasing, Hoehenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Englischer_Garten, Mangfallradweg, Mangfall_cycle_route, organic, supermarkets, grocery, lunch, snacks, deli, Italian, CSA] 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: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

Munich: Organic delicatessen, groceries and corner stores

Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are a few survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelves and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in a corner shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.

Mutter Erde

Groceries

In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available). If you find the place too busy step by the zero-waste grocery Ohne which also offers fully organic lunch. Mother Earth is still a little organic grocery, but no longer a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.

Lebascha/Ökoesel

A full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen, Lebascha once was run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. They retired, and since 9th of July, 2022 the shop has been the second shop of the community supported co-operative Ökoesel ("eco donkey" is derived from a pet name for bicycles – "Drahtesel" – as they started up as a bicycle delivery service). Unlike their shop in Neuhausen Lebascha continues to be open for everyone, with its (conventional) liquorice shop-in-shop. An assortment of loose-weight herbs and spices, cereals, nuts, legumes and grains, detergents and soap will be added soon. Note that the shop is closed on Wednesdays and does no longer accept cards, but as a member you can pay

A few corners away from tube stop Implerstraße in Sendling the neighbourhood grocery Hollerbusch ("elderbush") offers vegan and vegetarian lunch as well as yoga, pilates or singing lessons in a backroom. The shop is also a delivery hub for the Munich based community supported agriculture project Kartoffelkombinat.

Immigrant shops and traditional corner stores

While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. As about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.

Varieta

A similar owner-run mini market, Varieta am Körner Eck, is located in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, on Auenstraße between the Reichenbach and the Cornelius bridges. The bakery items are all organic, and organic products in the self-service area are clearly marked "bio" on the shelf. The shop offers a lot of directly imported Italian dry food, but unfortunately none of it in organic quality. Also most of the fresh fruits and veges are conventionally produced.

Viktualieneck

Remember the tales of parents or grandparents about the corner shop they went to as children to buy a single sweet which the shop keeper would put down on a list for their parents to pay later on when they came to shop bread, milk, veges and all the ingredients for the home-cooked meal? The spirit of these shops from the past you may find left in some immigrant shops and this is the reason why I list the Viktualieneck in Bogenhausen in this section. I learned about this crammed greengrocer's shop opposing the newly build neighbourhood of Prinz-Eugen-Park on my quest for shops supporting package-free shopping, but when I went there it turned out a likeable traditional supermarket offering fresh fruits and veges, regional delicatessen, bread and rolls, wine and all kinds of food. About half of it is organic, namely all the bakery products and certainly more than half of the pre-packaged food. Most of the fresh fruits and veges come from a conventional local market garden – the turnaround for organic greens wasn't good enough among his customers, and his emphasis was on avoiding waste the shop keeper told me. Package-free shopping is possible for all fruits and veges as well as all items from the bakery, meat and cheese counter. I cannot tell you whether the shop chalks up for trustworthy customers, but if you are in the vicinity support this shop instead of the supermarket chains nearby.

Studio Hindiba

Delicatessen

The upmarket contrast to these somewhat shabby grocery stores is naturally to be found in the posh neighbourhood of the Lehel: Studio Hindiba offers oils, herbs and condiments, olives, all types of rice, the famed ferments of Berlin's Markus Shimizu, a carefully selected range of wines and other predominantly organic delicatessen. For the smaller purse it may be just a beautyful shop to marvel at, but if your budget isn't painfully tight it's the perfect place to shop a foodie gift for someone special.

Steinbeisser

A few steps from Wiener Platz you'll find Steinbeißer, a cosy owner-driven deli advertising 'regional specialities'. Take this with a grain of salt – the organic Italian olive oil and Scandinavian candies (not organic) are small-scale produce specific to their region of origin, but certainly not from the greater Munich area. Most meat products come from small-scale Austrian farms which are likely to produce according to near-organic principles. Certified organic products unfortunately do not dominate the pleasantly arranged tables and shelves with artisanal products – predominantly foodstuffs and wine, but you may ask the owner about the provenance of his fare.

Grenzgaenger

Wine, pepper and coffee from carefully selected small-scale producers, that's the focus of Grenzgänger ("border crosser"), a lovely shop directly located at the beautiful Bordeaux-Platz in Haidhausen, just opposite Café Reichshof. When you come here during the cold season you may find yourself welcomed by the warmth of a fireplace, and you can get a speciality coffee (14 types of Arabica to choose from) into your own mug. During covid-19 restrictions cream-ware cups aren't provided, so if you come without a mug you will be charged an extra 20 cent for a plastics-free one-way cup. Unfortunately most of the products aren't certified organic, with the notable exception of the Demeter-certified honey and bee wax candles of a local beekeeper who is working in accordance with biodynamic principles, i.e. the gold standard for animal welfare.

Specializing in cheese and supplements – wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few – the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picnic or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses. When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic. The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.

Gewuerze der Welt

Herbs and spices

Not exactly a spice bazaar, but a pleasant spice and herbs shop Gewürze der Welt ("spices of the world") had a long tradition on its former location in Thiereckstraße in the very city centre, but when the historic Ruffini house re-opened after a two-year period of restoration work in 2020, the shop moved back to its roots in the Sendlinger Straße (now) pedestrian area. As the name suggests you will find a world of spices, herbs, blends and condiments, a notable part of them in organic quality.

Munich's first organically certified herbalist is tucked away in a non-descript side road near Sendlinger-Tor-Platz, just a few steps aside the remnants of the Glockenbach neighbourhood's famous queer bars. Light and friendly the Kräutergarten offers all kinds of organic dried herbs, spices, natural cosmetics and the like.

Sonnentor, the leading Austrian producer of organic herbs and spices, has a shop in Munich, too: Located in the basement of Stachus-Passagen, a generally boring shopping mall a level above this central urban train and tube station, it's probably not the shop that you'll find by accident while taking a stroll through the city. Apart from herbs, spices and condiments they also have a selection of natural body care – an easy place to shop for a nice last-minute give-away.

Hofbräuhaus Kunstmühle

Special shops

The only operating corn mill in Munich with its cosy mill shop is located in a small street a few steps from the tourist hotspots of Marienplatz and Hofbräuhaus. The Hofbräuhaus-Kunstmühle offers all types of flour, bruised grains, semolina, bran and cereals, predominantly of corn grown in the region. An increasing number of these artisanal products are organic, so watch out for the 'bio' keyword on the classic paper bags or the listings of the web shop. These products are also the base ingredients for the artisanal home bakery E. Knapp & R. Wenig next door where you can buy hand-made bread and rolls based on traditional, predominantly Munich recipes. The mill shop also stocks a selection of organic dried fruit, olive oil, raising agents and other baking ingredients as well as dry breads like South-Tyrolean Schüttelbrot.

Hanf

Another very special mono-themed shop, Hanf – der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The main shop (which is closed on Mondays) isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. But wait: in 2019 a second one opened at a tourist-friendly location between Isartor and Marienplatz.

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:

2023-07-12 20:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Lehel, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, flour, mills, fashion, bodycare, spices, herbs, delicatessen, eatery, corona, covid] Link

Creative Commons Licence

This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.