Saturday, 04 March 2023
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. Since 2021 we also have seen the gradual arrival of dry food, preserves and spreads in returnable glasses formerly only used for yogurts.
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.
Package-free food and household necessities
On February 20th, 2016 the city's first crowd-funded vegetarian 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, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars. Most sweets, toothpaste tablets, protein powder, matcha and other expensive products the staff will fill into your containers at the till.
There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from (currently quite basic) range of household and bodycare products. Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers, and increasingly also in deposit glasses. Since 2022 the range of goods has also been including ready-made convenience food like vegetarian bolognese and curry in retour glasses. The
sale of fresh greens and fruits was discontinued.
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. Be kind and wash your hands when entering the shop, for extra hygiene.
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.
A second branch opened January 23, 2019 in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen, a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, and offers snacks – you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake or a buttered pretzl. It's usually less crowded which also explains why you may find it closed for some days during school holidays, especially in the summer.
The pandemic spring and summer of 2020 saw a blossoming of zero-waste groceries in the South and West of town: Approximately at the same time as the Westend got its neighbourhood shop, Servus Resi opened in Obersendling right before the lockdown in March 2020, in a non-descript middle of no-where near the Siemenswerke former industrial area. But don't let you fool from the uninviting environment at a noisy car road – what you'll find here is a busy neighbourhood gem nicely furnished in light wood, with a superb selection of dried herbs and spices aside the usual dry food, and a nicely arranged selection of household items. The greengrocery section is rather limited – local organic apples and potatoes in late autumn 2020 –, and there are no dairy or other food requiring cooling, but the shop offers both, liquid body care products and household chemicals from refill stations. Everything is supervised by the friendly shop-owner, Chrissy (not Resi) herself, and if you wish to get in touch with people from the neighbourhood take the burden to come here even from other parts of town.
In Laim Nebenan unverpackt ("package-free next door") followed in summer 2020. The latter is organised as a co-operative (though the location next to a co-operative bank is purely accidental) and sports a
small neighbourhood coffee place. They offer a slightly bigger selection of dry food than the Ohne shops, fresh fruit and veges, but less dried herbs and spices and no spirits. You can however buy wine and their selction of condiments and preserves in one-way glasses have the effect that you can do all the regular daily shopping here in one place if you don't come with more advanced expectations.
Half a year earlier, in January, 2020 another
co-operative, Deine Alternative ("your alternative") in Zorneding, opened on the premises of the former Raiffeisen co-operative bank, just a few steps from the urban train station.
When you get inside you will however immediately forget about its past as a bank, the shop is carefully and pleasantly decorated, with wooden furniture and equipped with a proper Italian coffee machine for a break in between. Most of the often local produce sold here is organically certified or at minimum sustainably produced, though it would be nice if conventional loose-weight products were clearly marked. In addition to the gravity bins and containers with dry food there's a decent selection of dried herbs and spices, sweets, bread, some confectionery, a small selection of fresh organic greens and veges, cheese and milk from the Nirschlhof organic farm (but interestingly enough no whole-meal flour or oils, vinegars or spirits by the litre). In a separate room you can buy toiletries, household chemicals and items supporting a zero-waste lifestyle. Everyone is welcome, but members of the co-operative pay less.
If you live in the municipality of Zorneding you can pre-order a daily changing lunch dish to take home on weekdays or a covid-19 emergency food box that will be delivered home for those in quarantine.
The neighbourhood of Trudering (a more than 1200 years old former village and suburb in the Eastern part of Munich) does not have a dedicated zero waste supermarket, but twice a month, on Tuesday afternoons, an indoor farmer's market dubbed Tante Trude ("Auntie Trudie") keeps popping up in the neighborhood associations' offices. Organic farmers offer local produce, and you can donate to the Trudelade project: home-cooked jam made from abandoned fruit trees in the neighbourhood (you'll get a jar as reward).
South-South-West of Munich, the city of Wolfratshausen (the endpoint of the S7 urban train) likewise sports a package-free shop centrally located at the Obermarkt market place: Ohnverpackt, another zero-waste shop opening within the corona lockdown in the spring of 2020,
is even certified organic. The few conventional products of regional origin are clearly marked as an exception. It does not only offer the usual dry food and household chemicals, but also a good selection of cheese and antipasti. What you won't find are fresh fruits and veges, meat and sausages.
There's a small day cafe, unfortunately all closed on Mondays.
South of Munich, directly located at the S-Bahn station of Neubiberg the owner of the conventional Edeka supermarket opened a side project next door,
Hertscheck Unpacked which hopefully attracts people who usually wouldn't buy off the conventional supermarket tracks.
Although not marked most of the unpackaged dry food is organic – the shop assistant explained that since the shop itself isn't certified but fills the gravity bins and glass jars from bigger packages it isn't allowed to declare the products as "bio". There's also a good selection of loose-weight natural body care (both, in solid and liquid form) and household chemistry from brands I haven't found elsewhere. You can refill organic gin and regional (though not organic) whisky. The highlight of the shop are grow cabinets with special lamps where a good selection of herbs is grown, naturally free from agrochemicals. For city dwellers the place most certainly is worth
a little bicycle ride (through the beautiful eco park Umweltgarten Neubiberg where an organic farmer's market is held on Thursday afternoons) or urban train tour even though the place has less liberal opening hours than the conventional supermarket next door.
Fun fact: The former premises of the Edeka supermarket now host a Vollcorner organic supermarket.
In smaller municipalities, (urban) train stations usually are the only public (and sustainable) transport hub and as such a natural place for zero-waste supermarkets. So I was glad to find a new (in 2022) co-operatively organised organic zero-waste supermarket in Unterföhrung, next to the S-Bahn train station. The shop dubbed
UFG (short for "unverpackt, fair, gemeinsam" – "unpacked, fair, together")
is open to everyone, with a 10 percent discount scheme for members.
It does not only offer dry food, condiments and household items, but also bread, rolls, cakes, dairy products and fresh, predominantly local fruits and veges. On Thursday afternoons you also may buy local organic meat and sausages, cheese and other fresh artisanal organic products from a mobile booth of the Tagwerk co-operative.
There's a small lunch cafe offering organic soups, quiches and sandwiches as well as cereal bowls, coffee, smoothies, tea and cake, all vegetarian, often vegan. Unfortunately you have to register with an app service to take your food with you in a returnable bowl or box, and nevertheless may have to come back to the shop to return it. So better bring your own boxes.
In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in natural home cleaning opened in the Glockenbach neighbourhood: At Abgefüllt & unverpackt ("bottled and unpacked") the singer of the Munich-based band "Cat Sun Flower" warmly welcomes customers and passers-by and helps to (re)fill empty bottles with organic liquid household detergents. At the time of writing this shop was the only one in Munich selling washing powder by weight. In addition there are eco-friendly dishwasher tabs, body and hair soaps, fairly traded natural facecream in returnable glasses, towels, as well as upcycled and fairly traded bags and toiletry accessories.
About 20 years ago, Munich got its first – and to my knowledge only – organic department store centrally located a few steps from the Isartor: It consists of the city's first branch of the Basic supermarket chain with a self-service cafe on the ground floor and both, a self-service restaurant and a fashion and beauty store on the first floor. The latter,
Beauty & Nature, is a reliable source of organic clothes (with a focus on women and children), body care, home decoration, toys, dietary supplements and all types of sustainable household items including shoe shine, candles, seeds, cutting boards, or floor clothes.
Long anticipated, they started to offer refill for household detergents of the Sonett brand by the end of 2021, with a 10 percent discount. Since the staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner
supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill customers' jars and boxes with
cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, while independent convenience stores often had done so anyway. What's missing are customers bringing appropriate containers or at least asking
the staff to fill their orders into returnable glass jars (Vollcorner, Lebascha and others) or stainless steel containers (Basic) provided by the shop itself. So be brave! You can make a difference!
To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box (or ask for the deposit container) 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. Since they started to provide stainless steel boxes for a deposit of 7 EUR there's however no excuse for one-way packaging here anymore. Artisanal organic butcher's shops will also fill meat into boxes you provide. The Herrmannsdorfer groceries (e.g. the one at Max-Weber-Platz) reward you with a few cents discount per saved packaging.
Until the end of 2022 Basic supermarkets had gravity bin dispensers for pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, grains and more. But since
the company announced threatening insolvency these have been removed and the package-free offerings were reduced to fruits and vegetables as well as food from the serviced bakery and butchers' counters.
For a little while all Basic supermarkets in Munich offered detergents for refill, but they seem to have disappeared, too. Early in 2023 I found however containers to return empty cleaning agents bottles of the Sonett brand at the main branch in Bogenhausen – the producer is collecting them for controlled re-cycling into new bottles.
The shops of the nation-wide operating Alnatura chain never offered refill dispensers. However, it has been increasing the range of products in returnable jars and bottles continously since 2021 – among others fairly traded nut butters, a number of dry products and even ketchup.
Dried fruits and nuts and (as a recent addition) vegan savoury spreads in refundable glasses as well as package-free toilet paper can also be bought from Vollcorner supermarkets. Their huge flagship store at Theresienwiese (with butcher's counter and lunch cafe) also experimented with a milk vending machine but this has been discontinued since 2019. Since 2022 there is however a dedicated shelf offering an impressive range of products in deposit glasses.
By the end of 2020 a number of conventional supermarket chains had introduced refill stations for dry food, too, but since you still have to do a lot of careful reading in front of the shelves to shop climate-friendly products, I won't mention them here, with one exception: the huge Tegut branch that opened in the Elisenhof shopping centre next to the main train station
in December 2020. This supermarket chain really gives their customers a choice – all organic products are easily to recognise thanks to a light-green label on the shelves, and there's a great number of them in all product categories. Given the sheer number of products on sale the impressive refill rack at the left-hand side of the entrance aisle comprises only a negligible fraction of total sales, but it's a good start, and the best: All products in the gravity bins are organic, and they have the biggest selection of package-free organic chocolate-covered sweets I've come across so far. There are grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, legumes and sweets, but no flour and surprisingly almost no pasta.
Although the supermarket has its entrance next to the Sunday-open (and if you ask me generally more pleasant) organic supermarket Biokultur in the Hauptbahnhof basement Tegut is closed on Sundays and public holidays as well as in the evening. When you have at minimum half an hour to change trains you will however reach to refill some of your dry food containers as long as you know how it works: Put your box onto the scales and choose "Tara-Bon". This will print a label. Fill the box and remember the product id on the lower end of the gravity bin. Put the filled box back on the scales and press the second "Bon" button beneath the "Tara-Bon" button. Now you will be asked to type in the product id. Scan the bar code on the previously printed label with the hand scanner, and there you go: A receipt with a price tag will be printed for you. Seal your box with this second label and hurry up to the cash counter.
In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery has been offering to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, jelly gums and liquorice – only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes customers brought along. When the shop was taken over by the Ökoesel co-operative dispensers for grains, nuts and the like as well as household chemicals were added, and you can
also buy all types of herbs and spices by the gram.
Ask for a deposit box in case you forgot to bring your own.
For home-made dried fruit stroll a few more steps down the street and step by Haidhauser Oase.
Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing and at the Biochicco supermarket in the Au near Mariahilf-Platz. At the latter you can only refill original bottles of the Sonett label.
In Harlaching, the
independent Biowelt supermarket has a small zero-waste corner with dispensers for dry food, a good selection of loose-weight dried fruit and a dairy and butchers' counter where you can hand over your containers.
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 and the Hofbäckerei Steingraber you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars.
On Saturday mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au. Before the covid-19 pandemics all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, were organic,
but now it's no longer that easy. Therefore a comprehensive list: There are three organic market gardens (Biogärtnerei an der Isen alias Avanti Andi, Demeterhof Fahrenzhausen alias O'is bio and a third one also selling flowers and seedlings which you will immediately recognise when greeted with a friendly French accent). Put differently: Simply avoid the biggest greengrocery booth, "Helminger".
For meat, sausages, cheese and other dairy products there are the aforementioned two producers, and in addition the farm sale of Bergwinklhof Monigottsöd. The latter also offers a small selection of wine, but for good and knowledgeable advise on wines or non-alcoholic drinks to accompany a meal you'll better pay a visit to Uli Scheffler's organic wine trader's booth. While the juices are readly available in deposit bottles, returnable wine bottles are still very rare, and not used for high-quality wines.
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.
Needless to say that the organic boothes on the famous Viktualienmarkt in the Munich city will happily support you when you make it clear that you want to use your own bags and containers. And the spring of 2021 did not only see the opening of an organic bakery in one of the solid market stalls in the northern part of the market, but also a tiny organic food shop for organic dry food grown and produced in the nearby Chiemgau region:
Satt und gut ("full and good") sells staple foods like grains, flour, eggs, honey and oil but also cookies, both pre-packaged and loose weight, partially from the smallest gravity bins I've seen so far. Note that this shop, unlike the market itself, is closed on Mondays
In Zorneding a small farmers' market is being held every Friday on the premises of the Biohof Lenz organic farm. Here you can buy local organic meat and meat products, cheese, bread, veges, and occasionally honey and bee products, wines and spirits. Although most stalls are organic there are a few exceptions offering conventionally produced specialities. The Lenz family's own farm shop keeps open at the same time and on Saturdays, but for buying their exceptionally good meat you should subscribe to their newsletter and order beforehand according to availability (you should be fast to answer). Unfortunately all the Lenz meat and sausages are vacuumized in plastic.
At the Western edge of town, in Pasing the organic market garden of Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah has a farm shop open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. You can not only buy salads and vegetables grown here but also organic seedlings for your balcony or garden patch. The farm has also a market stall at the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt which keeps open all days except Sunday offering a huge selections of organic fruit and veges, but no seedlings.
While coffee is readily available from
loose weight convenience stores, tea drinkers aren't well catered for: Usually you will find some tisanes and one or two types of black tea. Fortunately specialist tea shops still exist, and as they sell loose weight teas by the gram don't be shy and ask them to fill your tea box.
Tee Gschwendner shop in the Asamhof backyard a few meters from the new pedestrian street of Sendlinger Straße this will work as long as the opening of your jar or box is wide enough for the shop assistant to fill it without touching it with her shovel. The franchise also sells conventional fare, so make sure to insist on organic quality – "Bio-Qualität" is the keyword. You'll find a decent selection of both, green, black and herbal teas, with and without aromatics. Bring a little time to stroll through the light and pleasant shop that has been at this place since the 1980ies, ask the assistant to show and suggest teas according to your taste and tell a little detail. When all your teas are filled into your jars you will be asked whether you fancy a tea sample, so it is smart to bring an additional small glass or jar.
Mind you that green tea doesn't store well in classic metal tea boxes as this material supports further oxidation processes.
In spring 2022 it turned out to be difficult to buy loose-weight organic flavoured tea as compliance to the EU regulation 2018/848 on organic products had not been established in time.
Coffee and food to take away
At Basic self-service cafes, the Ohne supermarkets, Siggis coffee bar and restaurant and an increasing number of other coffee places you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme.
Some like the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small discount for sparing the environment.
Most of the eateries reviewed here will fill your food into the boxes you provide for take-away as long as you make this clear before they start their usual routine which still means one-way packaging. Sushi to take away is available from Sushiya, and they will happily accept your bento boxes with your order.
Organic supermarkets which reduced their zero-waste approach
Between 2017 and 2022 supermarkets of the Basic chain had a clear focus on package- and plastic-free daily supplies. In 2023 the management stopped most of these efforts, and Basic went back to where it came from: being an ordinary supermarket, offering organic products only.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Gilching, Trudering, Unterfoehring, Wolfratshausen, Zorneding, Au, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Laim, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, tea, bodycare, household, sushi, wine]
Saturday, 04 February 2023
Bavarian opening hour regulations are far from liberal, hence your shopping options on Sundays and after 8 pm are limited to, uhmmm, petrol stations, more or less. Not the kind of place you'll expect to find organic food, toiletries or other necessities in eco-conscious quality.
But the times, they are changing, and for the organic Munich traveller or inhabitant, there's no reason to despair anymore. Your best bet are railway stations, namely Hauptbahnhof (main station) and Ostbahnhof.
On Hauptbahnhof enter the basement from Elisenhof in Western direction, following the S-Bahn signs (if you come from the trains head straight ahead to the Eastern exit to enter the basement). Opposite the entry to S-Bahn (urban trains) you'll find Biokultur, a full-fledged organic supermarket. It's you're only choice for fresh organic fruit and veges on Sundays and offers everything you'll expect from a full retailer (including wine, household cleaning items, toiletries, ...) as well as a pleasant shopping atmosphere. It keeps open daily until 9pm.
There's a second branch in the neighbourhood of Riem, without a permit to keep open on Sundays.
Next to it you find a branch of the local organic Hofpfisterei bakery chain. As all of their branches it also stocks a small range of organic drinks, dry and dairy products as well as organic cold cuts.
Unfortunately the Hofpfisterei branch at Ostbahnhof train station does no longer keep open on Sunday mornings, but a five minutes brisk walk from the station you'll find one of those family-owned bakeries that are becoming so rare these days. Leave the station at Orleansplatz exit, cross the square and follow the tram tracks along Wörthstraße. At the end of Bordeauxplatz square, corner Metzstraße, you'll find Cafe Reichshof run by the Neulinger family, a lovely coffeehouse cum pastry shop. Treat yourself with their delicious organic cakes, icecream or a savory organic snack like the traditional Bavarian Weißwurst (sausage) breakfast. If you don't feel intrigued to stay shop from a huge range of organic bread, rolls, and cakes. You can also buy a small selection of prepackaged cheese and meat cuts, butter, milk and jams from the fridge opposite the coffee machine.
Starting in 2022, the other Neulinger branches in Neuhausen, the meat-packing district of Ludwigsvorstadt and the wholesale market area in Sendling have been keeping open on Sundays and public holidays, too, though some only for breakfast.
Everything you need for a sumptious breakfast or cold snack (except fresh fruit and veges) can be bought from Fritz Mühlenbäckerei near Rosenheimer Platz. Between 1987 and 2010 this cosy artisanal baker's shop was the headquarter of one of Munich's eldest organic bakeries. Now the scent of warm bread fresh from the oven is gone – all the production takes place in modern facilities in the outskirts of Aying. The shop however is still here and open on Sunday mornings, including a small grocery section equipped with a large fridge.
About ten years after the Fritz bakery moved their bakery from the Haidhausen backyard to Aying the bakers came back to town with a bread bakery in Glockenbachviertel. The former cafe re-opened in June 2020 – buy your daily artisanal bread and watch the bakers at work.
If you happen to be in Grünwald on a Sunday morning (or another day of the week during working hours) make sure to buy the best German sourdough bread in the entire Munich area from Lokalbäckerei Brotzeit. Their bread workshop is located on the premises of the Alter Wirt hotel, with a separate entrance and a small lunch cum cafe counter where you can choose a roll and from a range of all organic spreads, coldmeat, cheeses and more to get your customised sandwich.
Back at Ostbahnhof trainstation, directly at the southern exit of the U-Bahn station into the Ostbahnhof building you'll find the place that will save your life after 8pm: This branch of the DM-Drogeriemarkt chain does not only stock the usual excellent range of natural bodycare, organic dry products, vegan alternatives and eco-friendly household helpers, but boosts a capable selection of dairy products, eggs and even a freezer stocked with organic pizza, berries, icecream, ... Unfortunately – and unlike other DM branches – organic choices and certified natural cosmetics aren't clearly marked on the shelves, so watch out for organic and natural cosmetics labels, and brands.
A few steps from the urban train stop Johanneskirchen, directly located at the bus stop "Johanneskirchen Bhf" there's an 24x7 open vending machine selling Bavarian produce: Not everything from the so-called Regiomat is organic, but you can buy organic eggs, UHT milk, cheese, chocolate pudding, cream and ready-made tomato sauce.
By the summer 2020 the concept of vending machines for products of smaller local farms finally had made it into Munich town, too: The Erntebox vending machines offer eggs and chicken meat, sausages, cheese, pasta and fruit jam, not everything organic, but most likely from farmers around Munich with a focus on sustainability. There's one at the Grünspitz in Giesing, a hotspot for urban agricultural and greening projects, and another at busy Berg-am-Laim-Straße in the Eastern neighbourhood of Baumkirchen. To find the latter isn't easy: Follow the shop windows of the (conventional) Aumüller bakery in in city (Western) direction and stop when the house turns at an angle. Unfortunately the number of certified organic products has been decreasing here: When I re-checked in April 2022, the organic sausages were gone, and from the initially good selection of organic cheeses there was just one type left.
[Munich, Gruenwald, Johanneskirchen, Haidhausen, Sendling, organic, coffee, gifts, snacks, lunch, breakfast, bakeries, grocery, supermarkets, trainstation, Regiomat, covid, corona]
Friday, 06 January 2023
The easiest way to reduce waste is to buy directly from artisanal producers. So far all (organic) bakeries
have been willing to fill my purchase into the (obviously clean)
cotton bags I present for years, and – the times are changing – most shop assistants seem to be
used to the concept by now. Providing a container for cakes and pastries (or meat and cheese) may occasionally be met with a raised eyebrow, but when explained, most shop assistants comply, sometimes clumsily, with this request.
Munich still has a traditional butchers row on Viktualienmarkt, but unfortunately none of these shops is certified organic. And unlike in Berlin, I am not aware of any artisanal organic butcher start-ups in town (yet).
Nevertheless meat lovers will be happy to learn that the city, home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent organic butcher shop: The Biometzgerei Pichler in Haidhausen does not only offer these Munich specialities to buy home or to eat on the spot but will happily fill your boxes with all kinds of meat cuts, sausages, cured and processed meat (both, German and Italian style), including tongues, ox tails, offal and other low-graded parts of the animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch (and warm snacks) on weekdays.
In the Maxvorstadt, the family-owned butcher runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket. This one offers lunch items for take out, too, and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves, from sustainable sources.
To my knowledge Pichler is the only dedicated organic butcher shop in town. Other organic butchers from the region either run their own farmer's supermarkets
(Herrmannsdorfer) or mobile boothes on farmers' markets (Tagwerk). Their products are readily available in organic supermarkets, too.
You may also buy meat and meat products directly from organic farmers: either from
a market booth or from their own farmshop.
And last but not least: Some organic butchers sell their fare through other market traders like the Hofbäckerei Steingraber.
For bakeries the picture is much more versatile: While older surviving organic bakeries in the city have been growing in size, built bigger workshops and centralised production, a new generation of artisanal bakers revived the traditional concept of a combined bakehouse and shop.
Here you can buy bread and rolls still warm from the oven, and often even catch a glimpse of the bakers at work.
Direct trade at farmers markets probably is the most social option: Market traders are ever so happy to strike up a brief conversation.
The easiest way to tasty organic German (sourdough) bread and rolls is to find one of the numerous branches
of Hofpfisterei ("Baker with appointment to the court"), with a history dating back almost 700 years and about 150 shops in Bavaria (plus a few in Baden-Württemberg and Berlin) likely to be
the biggest organic bakery (chain) in Germany. Much of the baking is done by contractors, and
the company is transparent about their production standards the question "Who made my bread?" remains unanswered. Given the sheer number of Hofpfisterei shops in Munich, I only
list the ones open on
Compared with this giant all other organic bakeries are dwarfs with no more than a handful of shops. Coffee-lovers better stay away from the coffee at Hofpfisterei branches, but the automatic coffee machine (run on organic milk and coffee beans) and one or more high tables for a quick lunch or snack are standard facilities in all bakery branches as are returnable coffee mugs if you insist on a coffee drink to take with you. Your own mug will be accepted widely by now, at least as long as it is clean.
The Augsburg-based family-run
Bäckerei Schubert is running two owned shops within Vitalia health food shops, one of them next to the Viktualienmarkt, the other in Laim.
The Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner is located opposite the Lebascha grocery in Haidhausen. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those made from pastry flour. For lunch the bakery offers the standard that can be expected from Munich bakery shops: readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzls). There's a second Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
With roots in Munich, and since 2020 back baking in town, Fritz Mühlenbäckerei
will not only provide you with fresh
bread, cakes, and rolls on Sundays: The shop in Haidhausen where everything started does no longer act as a bakehouse, but it still sports well-assorted fridges and shelves with all organic food you may have forgotten for the Sunday breakfast. In spring 2021 the bakery took over a market booth in the Northern part of the Viktualienmarkt, next to Heilig Geist church which however is closed on Sundays.
To avoid food waste, if you are on a small budget and as long as you aren't out for a special type of bread or roll I recommend the Fritz bakery's yesterday's bread shop, Zweitbrotladen, in Haidhausen. However, this small shop has a disadvantage: by the end of its quite restricted opening hours you may find that everything you fancy has been sold out.
A short walk from Sendlinger Tor, within the hospital area, you'll find Bio Backs, an organic bakery store where you also can get organic coffee drinks, tea, hot chocolate and snacks. Unfortunately the Asian lunch served here is not organic. Only the butter, the flour used in savory quiches, sugar, milk, soy drink and vegetable broth are promised to be organic. Pro-actively insist on your own bags and containers when you buy to take with you. Mind you that the shop closes quite early in the afternoon.
All of the aforementioned bakeries (except the Hofpfisterei) sell good home-made cakes. But if you are out for the art of pastry and tarts there's one
bakery not to miss, a bakery not only founded within the city boundaries but still
a true native: The Brot- und Feinbäckerei Neulinger with its gorgeous Café Reichshof and four more shops.
While the Fritz bakery relocated its main factory to a new-built complex in the Bavarian municipality of Aying and only has a small artisanal bread bakery in town, the Neulingers are baking everything in a light and open, pleasantly humming workshop in Sendling, and all of their shops are open both, on Sundays and most public holidays (except January, 1).
The Munich revival of the (German) bread bakery in its traditional
sense of bakehouse and shop sharing the same address started in the posh municipality of Grünwald with Lokalbäckerei Brotzeit. These guys also run a small sales counter inside the
zero waste shop Ohne in Maxvorstadt, and frankly: No other bread in town keeps the taste
of fresh sourdough bread as long as theirs.
Others followed: The luxurious artisanal organic bread of Julius Brantner is being served at the most upmarket fine-dining restaurants in town – and you can buy it from the bakery in Schwabing. Make sure to come in time – especially on a Saturday you may find the shop closed after the last bread was sold.
If you do not succeed, try the Brotraum bakery, conveniently located near Münchner Freiheit.
For gluten-free organic breads and pastries your first stop is
Echt jetzt, a decidedly gluten-free shop cum cafe near the Pinakotheken museums,
with production on premise.
And last but not least there is an organic bakery chain with an integrated open bakehouse (run on sustainable energy) as part of the shop concept:
Cumpanum, based in the small town of Bobingen, south of Augsburg, combines a shiny bakery counter (with friendly service) with a delicatessen (and a cafe corner). If you are on your way to a Sunday brunch with friends and family and are looking for a little something you'll find hand-made organic preserves, herbs and condiments and other eatable luxury on their shelves.
"Neverending bread" may sound funny, but the master mind (and master baker) of Cumpanum and his team are also running two organic bread shops with this name,
Unendlich Brot: one in Munich's Maxvorstadt, and one in Landsberg am Lech. Also here all doughs are free from wheat.
[Munich, Trudering, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Schwabing, Landsberg_am_Lech, Bobingen, organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, lunch, bakeries, butcher]
Sunday, 20 November 2022
While buying organic requires little effort in Salzburg, minimising 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. The covid-19 pandemics was the beginning as well as the end of the (to my knowledge) only dedicated organic pay-by-weight grocery, GenussProGramm (a pun which can be translated as both, "pleasure by the gram" or "pleasure program") in the neighbourhood of Andräviertel.
So what's left? As in other cities farmers' markets are a good bet: The Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace offers to fill Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen into your jars, provided you ask for it. Although the market at Grünmarkt is held daily, there are no organic boothes on Mondays and Thursdays; the Medousa booth is here on Saturdays only. On Thursday mornings you can find it at the Schrannenmarkt opposite Mirabell castle.
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 most daily necessities without producing non-compostable waste.
To refill milk around the clock head for the milk vending machine at the Erentrudishof organic farm in Morzg, a pleasant bike ride from the city. There's also a farmshop, of course with more restricted opening hours, where you also can buy eggs, spelt, wheat and rye produced by the farm.
When buying bread, rolls, cake or snacks from organic bakeries you should by now no longer meet strange looks when presenting your bag or container. But organic bakeries in town seem to be afraid of advertising themselves as "bio", so it can be difficult to spot them.
The most stylish one of them is the Salzburg branch of
Joseph Brot vom Pheinsten with its open baker's workshop a few steps away from the Mönchsberg elevator. Apart from deliciously smelling bread, rolls, cakes and snacks there's a small selection of dairy products, jams and preserves. You can also order organic (coffee) drinks and sit down on a table to have a snack or enjoy their patisserie. The bakery keeps open on Sunday mornings and public holidays.
Elisabethen-based artisanal bakery Pföß has a shop next to the Sternbräu area in the old town.
Unfortunately only the bread is promised to be organic, the white rolls tasted bland as if they were made of conventional flour. On the other hand the Krapfen doughnuts were a real delight, crisp and still a little warm, filled with fruity apricot purree instead of oversweet jam. If you come here for a snack stay away from the conventional softdrinks, and you may wish to ask whether the sandwiches are made with organic toppings.
If you want to be sure to get 100 percent organic bakery products, visit the Grünmarkt at Universitätsplatz: Three days a week you'll find the booth of Bio-Bäckerei Itzinger on its Eastern side, near the Ritzerbogen hallway. The bakery also offers vegan bread and rolls and has a focus on wholemeal products. On Thursdays you can find it at the Schranne Biomarkt.
Zero waste starts with the food, but does not end there: In order to reduce the amount of plastics ending up as microplastic in our environment and finally in ourselves it's crucial to reduce the use of the (undoubtedly useful) polymers in general: Don't throw them all away at once (as the biggest part of the carbon footprint of goods is in their production), but replace your plastic household items or clothes with plastic-free alternatives as soon as they are about to degrade.
In Salzburg there's a store to help you with that:
Damn Plastic in Münzgasse (around the corner from the Joseph bakery) offers almost the entire range of plastic-free (or recycled) non-food, for inspiration
[Salzburg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, bakeries, deli, market, breakfast, coffee, snacks, farms, fashion, bodycare, household]
Tuesday, 18 October 2022
Every organic supermarket big enough to be equipped with a freezer will sell you iced-lollies or pre-packaged cups of ice-cream, at least during the warm season. But for the real thing you need to know where to find your small scale artisanal organic ice-cream parlour. Fortunately there are sufficient options to find your favourite one, unfortunately only a few of them sell their fare in organic wafer cones. The covid-19 pandemic introduced ice-cream seasons starting as early as February (e.g. at the Bartu shops and True & 12 at the Gasteig), often restricted to nice spring afternoons, but usually you can expect the ice-cream to appear at the beginning of April.
Arguably the best ice-cream in town is made by former shoe-pusher Thomas Bartu and his crew in Schwabing. Just like the best ice-cream parlours in Italy they cover their 24 types of ice-cream hygienically instead of displaying them for show-off. All ingredients are listed on big and nicely layouted wallpapers, leaving no questions open for vegans or people with allergies. Children under 13 years pay less (1.70 €) for the scoop than adults (2 €). You can also have a good (though not organic) cup of Italian-style coffee or an organic soft-drink, and a yummy organic pizza. If you haven't had enough you can choose from an ever changing selection of Bartu ice-creams to take away in reusable containers. And the best: They don't close their shop during the cold season. On the other hand don't count on opening hours longer than the regular 10 pm; in fact they often close about ten minutes before.
Summer 2018 saw the opening of a second Bartu ice-cream parlour in the Maxvorstadt. The nicely styled cafe – with tables and all – is located next to the Gratitude restaurant. If you fancy a caffe affogato (Italian espresso with ice-cream) have it the Italian way, with Fior di latte instead of vanilla ice-cream. They also serve organic tea, soups and soft drinks, and since the covid-19 winter of 2020/21 you can also have a one-pot organic lunch. Fortunately the the wafer cones are back, so are no longer inclined to produce waste. Although the shop is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the cold season you may be lucky on nice weather Mondays and Tuesdays in spring when the shop nevertheless opens at noon.
While Thomas Bartu occassionally extends his sales with various pop-up stores he doesn't seem inclined to expand his business into a chain. So here was a niche which Stefano di Giglio of Del Fiore tried to fill: He and his team started with three gelaterie at once in 2017, of which only one was left by 2021. You'll find it in Schwabing, near the university quarter's entrance to the Englischer Garten, and I am inclined to say that it is run by independent owners.
Di Giglio seems to concentrate on ice-cream making for local third-party vendors like
organic supermarkets and cafes. In the summer of 2021 I found the NY-style Occam Deli in Schwabing to sell Del Fiore ice-cream to passers-by, and since 2022 the tramstop cafe
Il Chiosco at the Ostfriedhof graveyard has not only been beautifying an ugly crossroad of Tegernseer Landstraße, but allowing for an organic ice-cream while you wait for the tram.
Both, the milk-based flavours and the sorbets, are fully organic and extremely palatable, though quite pricey. Il Chiosco concludes the ice-cream season at the beginning of November.
A stroll along the Isar river to the Western shore of Wittelsbacher bridge gives you another opportunity for a partially organic ice-cream stop: The ChocoLab cafe cum chocolaterie at Baldeplatz is not organic in general, but the dairy ice-cream sold here is made from organic milk.
Where would you expect organic and vegan ice-cream to go if not in the university quarter? A two-minutes walk from the Northern exit of the tube station "Universität" in the Maxvorstand neighbourhood you'll find IceDate serving date and cashew-based ice-cream varieties. I prefer their strong flavours like the chocolate varieties or coffee; the more subtle ones like hemp or green tea often need polishing.
A scoop goes for 2.20 EUR, and every serving is topped with a small quantity of an additional flavour. Bad weather is no issue since they have a pleasant indoors sitting area.
Amid the covid-19 spring of 2020 a second branch opened next to the Tushita tea house, in humming Glockenbachviertel, and
a mobile IceDate booth can also be found on many street festivals in the city.
In the neighbourhood of Haidhausen you have three possible targets: Cosy though buzzing Café Reichshof a five minutes brisk walk from Ostbahnhof station offers home-made ice-cream spring through early autumn, though you may be tempted to indulge yourself in one of their gorgeous cakes instead (or have both?) The stuccoed ceiling with candelabras play well together with the wooden shelves of the bakery display, making for an inviting yet not overwhelming interior. During the warm season you may prefer to sit outside facing relaxing Bordeauxplatz. Be prepared to queue on nice-weather days, but since the service is swift, efficient and friendly waiting will usually take shorter time than expected. The Neulinger's ice-cream season ends in October; the scoop in 2022 went for 1.80 EUR and is served in organic wafer cones. Since the shop participates in the Hey (formerly Brot am Haken) campaign you may buy a coffee, bread or cake voucher for someone in need as you go. If you buy a coffee drink to take away in your own or a Recup cup you'll get 10 cents off for sparing the environment.
November 2019 the entire location underwent major work to re-establish the coffee house of old on the premises of the former bakery workshop (the work is now done in the new facilities in the wholesale market area of Sendling), and now that it's ready it turns out to be a true jewel. Spacious and family friendly, in the tradition of the great coffee houses of the 1920ies it's a recommended hideout, both for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch or a coffee break. Before 9 am you can order your breakfast at the counter and take a seat in the front part, service starts at 9 am.
Café Reichshof is not the only branch of Bäckerei Neulinger, an artisanal organic bakery: There are two older shops in the neighbourhood of Neuhausen and a new cafe cum bakery located in the former meat-packing district, the Schlachthofviertel. In 2018 the Neulinger family moved its "headquarter" from Neuhausen to Sendling, to the premises of a former banana ripening facility –
a light and quiet place to have lunch while watching the bakers working the dough. Have an ice-cream on top as you leave. Since 2022, all Neulinger shops have been open on Sundays and public holidays, though the smaller shops only in the morning, for breakfast rolls.
For a very special treat step by Oliver a few steps from Café Reichshof at the south-eastern end of Bordeauxplatz: freshly prepared hand-rolled vegan organic ice-cream.
If you fancy an ice-cream during your evening stroll head for fancy True & 12 opposite the Gasteig cultural centre. Their milk comes from a family-run organic farm keeping grass-fed cattle half an hour away by urban train (plus five minutes by bus plus half an hours walk). Other ingredients like hazelnuts and eggs are also organic,
the non-organic ingredients of course all natural. The lip-smacking delicious result comes in original flavours like lavender and cassis (dubbed "Haidhausen") as well as standard flavours like chocolate or vanilla, both of unusually high quality. The scoop in 2022 goes 2 €. For an additional euro you will be served in a hand-rolled cinnamon-flavoured cone or shell, so ask for availability! To much regret also this place is closed from end of October to mid of March.
In Neuhausen organic ice-cream to go can also be had from Café Ruffini, described in my restaurant post.
The classical Italian ice-cream parlour – ice-cream to go, and not much ado – you'll find with Gelateria Artefredda in Giesing near Ostfriedhof on busy Tegernseer Landstraße. The right-hand side of their display features their organic varieties for 2.20 EUR the scoop – about eight ones to choose from. With its unpretentious eco-styled walls the cafe makes a light and pleasant place to have a short coffee break (prepared with organic milk). Most sundaes can be had with organic ice-cream, but unfortunately neither fully organic nor in re-usable cups. Artefredda keeps closed during the cold season. On bad weather days they often open up a quarter of an hour past their announced opening time, nice weather provided they will often keep open longer than announced.
Not far away, a five minutes walk downtown from Giesing Bahnhof station, a new modern ice-cream parlour opened its doors on the premises of a conventional one in 2021: GelatOk! promises all natural ice-cream, with as little organic life-style as possible for an audience that does not usually frequent organic supermarkets. The milk for the creamy and exceptionally tasty ice-cream however is organic and comes from the Berchtesgadener Land dairy, and if you order a coffee drink, it's made with organic milk, too. Another good sign for the ice-cream is that it is produced in small batches – most of the containers weren't filled to the brim.
In the Glockenbach neighbourhood you'll find Das Eismeer, Munich's first self-proclaimed climate-neutral ice-cream parlour. Although the egg-free ice-cream here is all natural the main ingredients like sugar and milk are not organic. Single organic flavourings like vanilla or poppy seeds are however advertised in big letters so that you may get the impression that the entire ice-cream was organic. Looks a bit like a dark pattern to me. If you fancy a hot drink: coffee and cocoa are both organic (and the latter also fairly traded).
Kids pay less for the ice-cream than adults.
In the Western neighbourhood of Pasing you may set out for a stroll to Sweet Monkeys. Next to the graveyard, tucked away between a stonemasonry and a flower shop the clean and pleasantly decorated ice-cream parlour serves lip-smacking ice-cream made from organic milk from the Berchtesgadener Land dairy and veges from the nearby organic gardener Florian Kamlah. Not all ingredients are organic, but there's a commitment to avoid transport by buying local and energy emissions by using sustainable energy. This ice-cream shop offers some unusual flavours like cucumber-pineapple, white coffee or lime yogurt and you can also order sundaes like the children's favourite spaghetti ice-cream (spaghetti-like pressed vanilla ice-cream with berry sauce). Unfortunately the place is too far from the Pasing train station to be reached while waiting for a connecting train.
There's a second branch in Moosach.
Markets and street festivals
If you happen to attend a street festival in Munich like the semi-annual Streetlife on Leopoldstraße or the annual Munich Sports Festival on Königsplatz watch out for a pink-blue food truck selling Cramer's Speiseeis in cones. The Cramers run a family-driven organic bakery cum pastry shop in Gauting near Munich, where they also make their ice-cream, so be brave when you're in the vicinity and give their spicy ginger or chocolate-chili varieties a try.
While there's no more organic ice-cream at the Viktualienmarkt the weekly Saturday farmers' market at the Seehaus within Englischer Garten has a heart for those with a sweet tooth: During the summer monthes the Biohof Butz does not only sell organic fruits and veges, but also ice-cream made from milk by the farms' own cows.
No more ice-cream
When you take a stroll about the famous Viktualienmarkt food market the desire for an ice-cream may come natural. Unfortunately the
Trübenecker organic fruits and veges booth does no longer offer organic ice-cream in the summer – instead you can have freshly made all-organic smoothies.
No longer organic
Ceased to exist
The following places do no longer exist, even though you still might find references to them on the web:
- Amorino, Schützenstr. within front of Karstadt department store
- Amorino, Wiener Pl.
- Ella Bartu within Eis, Eisbaby installation by Daniel Man in front of Lenbachhaus art museum, Luisenstr. 33
- Bartu c/o Feinkost Käfer, Prinzregentenstr. 73
- Bartu ice-cream & Brenner Kitchen, Feilitzschstr. 4 (pop-up mobile ice-cream booth)
- Del Fiore Gelato Gärtnerplatz, Gärtnerpl. 1
- Del Fiore Gelato Roecklplatz, Ehrengutstr. 18
- Jack&Eddy's, Pestalozzistr. 7 (organic frozen yoghurt)
- Naturale Bio Eisdiele, Winthirstr. 9b
[Munich, Haidhausen, Giesing, Moosach, Pasing, Schwabing, organic, vegan, ice-cream, coffee, cafe, Italian, bakeries, covid, corona]