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]
Sunday, 16 October 2022
Nowhere in Germany it is easier to adhere to an organic lifestyle than in its capital – provided you aim for appropriately inhabited neighbourhoods all you have to do is to keep your eyes open. Many of those neighbourhoods can be found in the administrative unit of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and this blog will cover only the tip of the iceberg, i.e. the places I found during a two-days visit. The places covered in the first two sections are all located in Kreuzberg 61, the neighbourhood considered the bourgeouis part of Kreuzberg.
The German Museum of Technology near tube-station Möckernbrücke clearly is a place to spend hours in – but what if you start to feel hungry or the urge for a coffee? For the occasional tourist this wonderful museum seems to be located in the middle of nowhere, but don't dispair! Head East and follow Tempelhofer Ufer back to the tube station, and turn to the right after the second traffic-light. A few steps into Großbeerenstraße you will find an organic gem with roots back in former West-Berlin's green-alternative past. Today it's a friendly though a little worn-out grocery cum eatery dubbed Ökotussi ("eco-Sheila") run by a bunch of practical women. Stop by for a hearty vegetarian (usually vegan) lunch (the vegan lasagna we had was delicious and sufficient for two), a salad or snack or an Italian-style coffee drink.
Follow Zossener Straße from tube-stop Gneisenaustraße in Southern direction, and you'll end up in a neighbourhood that most eco-conscious people will consider the ultimate paradise: three organic (or predominantly organic) whole-sale supermarkets, four organic bakeries, four at minimum partially organic restaurants and eateries, and a number of other shops offering selected organic products, everything within a five minutes walk, all with liberal opening hours compared to the rest of Germany. The eateries of this neighbourhood dubbed Bergmannkiez try to outdo one another in advertising their vegan options – it seems a luxury to point out that vegan even here usually does not imply organic.
Restaurants and eateries
Promenading Bergmannstraße (which makes for the Southern border of Marheinekeplatz) to the West you will find Fratelli La Bionda, a decent Italian pizzeria using organic flour and tomatoes for their pizze. No place for lunch since the restaurant does not open before evening. If you take your seat around the tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, opposing a park with a children's playground you will kindly be asked to move inside around half past 9 pm. Since the eateries covered below all close between 8 and 9 pm (or even earlier during the weekend) this place is the only option for your evening out covered in this post.
This nicely restored mall is a Mekka for foodies. Opposite Friesenstraße you will find Piechas Bio-Buffet, a slow-food whole-organic grill. Although vegan and vegetarian dishes are offered, too, their focus is clearly on organic meat, from nose to tail. Arguably Berlin's best beef burgers are served here, and unlike other places they won't cook your meat to death when you forget to order rare. If you want to try Berliner Currywurst (curried sausage) and other German meat dishes at all – so here. Heavily frequented during lunch hours service can be a bit bumpy, and more frequent cleaning of the bar tables would often be nice. You can choose from an impressive range of organic softdrinks, or have beer or very decent cider made from apples organically grown in the wild of Berlin's surroundings. Mayonaise and ketchup for your fries have to be ordered separately.
If you walk around the booth you will find the counter of the organic butcher's shop where you can buy sausages, offal and all the cuts from free-range cattle and pigs kept well at small-scale organic farms in the vicinity and slaughtered respectfully.
Lunch and coffee drinks are also being served by organic bakery Beumer & Lutum, a few steps north on Zossener Straße. If you want your coffee on the go make sure to bring your own mug which entitles you to a small discount. While the two organic bakery boothes within the Marheineke mall – Mehlwurm in the centre of the market hall, and Biobackhaus in the North-Eastern part – are closed on Sundays and open at 8 am, Beumer & Lutum is catering for the early bird Monday through Saturday from 7 am. It also used to keep open on Sundays, but that's past: Due to staff shortness in 2022 the shop is open only on weekday mornings. It offers a small selection of organic food items to complete your breakfast table. The bakery boothes in the mall still have longer opening hours, but do not serve coffee or lunch. Mehlwurm is the first bakery I know of offering an open source bread (with beetroot and walnuts).
For the sweet tooth
Italian-style organic coffee drinks can also be had from the Tanne b ice-cream parlour on the crossing of Zossener and Bergmannstraße. They use organic milk for their all-natural ice-creams served in vegan cones, and offer vegan options, too. Children are served slightly smaller scoops for the price of 80 cents (instead of 1.20 euros for regular servings). In 2019 the ice-cream season has been announced to start 7th March.
Around the corner from Fratelli La Bionda you'll find cosy Cafe Conni Island where you can treat yourself with lovely home-made, partially organic cakes and a coffee drink made with organic milk. The place is run by an artist whom you can hire to paint your walls with art, and since she usually serves herself the opening hours are restricted to afternoons and the second half of the week.
With a branch of the vegan supermarket chain Veganz on the first floor of Marheineke-Markthalle facing Marheinekeplatz, a branch of Berlin-based organic wholesale chain Bio-Company on Bergmannstraße/Friesenstraße crossing and an Alnatura branch on the East-side of the park, all with liberal opening hours compared to German standards it's hard to find an excuse for not buying organic. The Bio-Company bakery booth even opens for the early bird at 7:30 am.
While both, Alnatura an Bio-Company sell exclusively organically certified items you have to be careful at Veganz: The grocery products and most of the German and Austrian brands on display are organic (and can be found in almost any other organic supermarket), but they also offer a lot of imported vegan products, and a great deal of them are not organic. Unfortunately these are not clearly marked on the shelves, so you should be familiar with organic branding outside the continent. On the plus side this Veganz supermarket introduced self-service dispensers offering more than 80 different dry products waiting to be filled in the containers you brought with you.
If you're on a shopping spree or in search for a gift, and the body care sections of the organic supermarkets seem too boring, there's an organic beauty shop dubbed Belladonna in Bergmannstraße. Light and inviting, with a great selection of all kinds of natural creams, body lotions, perfumes, hair care, make-up and much more, both for men and women, this is a must-go for everyone, not just beauty addicts.
Also need new clothes? One of the three Berlin-based shops of the Dresden-based organic fashion and interior design label Tranquillo is located right in the vicinity.
The Japanese go mad about Trippen shoes, and if you go for fairly and eco-consciously produced leather shoes of unusual design (some of the soles alone can be considered art) the Trippen factory outlet near tube stop Schlesisches Tor is definitely worth a visit. Unlike in their stylish flagship store within Hackesche Höfe you have to browse shoe boxes for your size, and all the pairs are remaining stock or have small defects like miscolourings. In return prices are well below usual market price. You will find children's, women's and men's shoes (even the ones better described as sculptures are astonishingly comfy), and the staff is very helpful.
One of the many organic groceries turned partially organic eateries and delis is Der Milchladen ("The milk shop") near tube stop Moritzplatz. In the heart of what is dubbed the wild and autonomous migrant Kreuzberg you can have a hearty lunch, sandwiches, coffee and (cheese) cake as well as breakfast, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore.
The place is situated a few steps from the flagship store of one of the oldest eco-conscious Berlin fashion labels, Luzifer in Oranienstraße. All their clothes are made of linen and hemp, and unlike other labels they don't have short-lived collections: If you wore out your favourite dress, shirt or pair of trousers, you will usually be able to buy a replacement. When my favourite dress (of which I had two copies) after ten years continous use had too many holes they happily made a new one of the good parts for a very competitive price. They offer both, a men's and a women's collection, and you will often be served a tisane or a cookie in their light and friendly showroom.
The following places are closed for good:
[Berlin, Kreuzberg, organic, vegan, Italian, pizza, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, fashion, bodycare, household, shoes, deli, grocery, eatery, zero_waste, bakeries, butcher, burgers, confectioners]
Sunday, 28 August 2022
So far I haven't found dedicated organic zero-waste shops which sell most of the food items from self-service dispensers in the Veneto yet. Italians are very fond of nice packaging, and even in dedicated organic supermarkets the cashier will helpfully offer you a (bio-degradable) bag. But the times are changing, and declining it will no longer be met with unbelief.
In fact all NaturaSi supermarkets I visited in 2022 and 2021 (namely the ones in Selvazzano Dentro, Abano Terme and the one in Verona's neighbourhood of San Zeno a little North-West of the Porta Nuova train station) not only offer most fruits and vegetables without packing, but also a small selection of dry food from gravity bins which you weigh into your own (pre-weighted) boxes and jars. In addition the San Zeno shop offers loose-weight household detergents to be bought by the gram.
As of NaturaSi's information the same should also apply to the branches in the neighbourhood of Veronetta and in the suburb of San Massimo (which also sports an organic day cafe).
[Verona, organic, biologico, grocery, supermarkets, cafe, snacks, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, household, bodycare]
Thursday, 25 August 2022
Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing 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.
Big conventional supermarkets and discounter shops in Bremen like Rewe and Penny often keep open until 10 pm Monday to Saturday. The latter puts green labels on the shelves in front of organic products which help to find organically certified food.
There's a cluster of Sunday-open shops inside Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, and these usually keep open on public holidays, too. So unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you should be 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 Reformhaus Bacher health-food shop (before 2021 its name was "Betterlife"). All fresh bakery products are organic, but you have to check for organic labels on pre-packaged items as about half the products on offer aren't certified as organic food or natural cosmetics.
With their own brands "Alterra" (certified natural cosmetics), "Eco-Freude" (sustainable household detergents) and "Alverde" (food) Rossmann drugstores are an alternative for the small purse. The branch inside Hauptbahnhof keeps open 16 hours a weekday, and 14 on weekends and bank holidays. It's easy to find: Climb the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub.
What's unique for a German city is that there's a Sunday-open package-free convenience store:
Selfair at the Steintor.
For pre-packaged organic sausage and meat products, predominantly in the jar head for the Lebensmittel-Punkt inside the Markthalle 8 food court at Domshof. When you enter the building there's a 24x7 open vending machine at the right hand side where you can buy a lot of regional sausage specialities as well as ready-made meat stock.
You can also put orders of fresh meat at their webshop and collect your order on Fridays and Saturdays between 11 am and 6 pm from the dish counter of the food court.
The name "Lebensmittel-Punkt" is a play on words – the composed noun can mean both, "place to buy food" and "centre of vital interest".
At the organic farm of the Kaemena family in Blockland you'll find 24x7 open vending machines for local organic products. Here
you can tap raw or pasteurized milk into your own bottle, the liter for 1.20 EUR.
If you did not bring one you can buy a returnable milk bottle for the price of 2 EUR the Regiomat vending machine which also stocks jam, drinking yogurt and cheese from the farm as well as cheese, eggs, honey and sausage in the jar by organic farms in the vicinity. In addition there's a little freezer with iced lollies at 2.50 EUR the piece for which you pay into the honesty box next to it – all worth the bicycle tour on the dyke as cars need a special permission to come here. Don't forget to bring cash.
Both, the jam and jogurt glasses can be returned here for re-use (there's a separate "waste-bin" next to the vending machine), but to get back the deposit for the milk bottles you have to turn to the farm cafe during its opening hours.
In 2022 a second milk vending machine and a Regiomat found their way into the city: In front of the Friedenskirche in the Viertel you can however tap pasteurized milk only, no raw milk. As the milk has to come here by car the prize for the liter is higher than the one next to the milking parlour.
And last but not least: The Kaemena's newly (in 2022) established ice-cream cum farm shop in the Neustadt part of town keeps open on Sundays and public holidays and sells jogurt, cheese and naturally milk.
[Bremen, Blockland, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation, farms, Regiomat]
Sunday, 14 August 2022
Located at the mouth of the river Weser, the
port of Bremerhaven has been ensuring
the hanseatic city of Bremen's access to the sea for sea-going ships since the 1820ies. While the
container port (and unfortunately also the cruise ship terminal) continue to be important sea hubs, the historic ports of the Havenwelten ("port world") with maritime museums of all kinds make the family-friendly city a perfect destination for everyone interested in science, ships, and (e)migration.
A destination of the easy-going
Weserradweg bicycle route Bremerhaven can not only be reached by regional train from Bremen, but also comfortably by bike.
Eat and drink
Since the Findus cafe and restaurant re-invented itself as an organic bakery during the covid-19 pandemics and staff shortage prevails in 2022 there's currently (to my knowledge) no place to have (predominantly) organic dinner. But during the day take the chance to visit Deutsches Auswandererhaus, a museum dedicated to German emigration to the Americas. The museum has a pleasant cafe cum restaurant, the Speisesaal, with a spacious outdoor terrace facing the quays of the so-called new port in the Havenwelten area.
Their menu consists of two parts: Fully organic, predominantly vegetarian international lunch classics like pasta, stews, and gratins, and not necessarily organic maritime classics like fish soup or fish'n'chips. The organic dishes and beverages are all marked "bio" and can be recognised by the red font colour on the menu. Fish and seafood come from responsible sources. Naturally the milk for coffee drinks is also organic. 2022 staff shortage leads to occasionally slow service, so enjoy the view and be a little patient.
While the Speisesaal is open to the general public, the Cafe südwärts inside the Klimahaus 8° Ost a few steps away can only be accessed with a valid ticket to the museum. The museum features places located on the same lattitude like Bremerhaven as an interactive journey through the (changing) climate zones of the earth and as such is highly recommended by itself. The cafe can be accessed after you come to the river landsacpe of Cameroon and offers
organic egg, pasta, orange juice and bionade lemonades. The fish also carries
MSC certificates, and there are
no meat dishes.
The museum's shop
is accessible for non-visitors from the entrance, the so-called Havenplaza. It offers environmentally and socially resposibly produced gifts and dry food,
but unfortunately does not serve (fairly traded) coffee.
To have an organic coffee not connected with a museum you have to walk longer south, to the Fischereihafen ("fish port"). Here you'll find a small owner-run café, Grethe's, directly located at the quay. All coffee and milk is organic here, as are most of the ingredients for their cakes and vegetarian food. You can have burgers, pasta dishes, soups and stews, and most drinks apart from a few spirits are organic, too. Unfortunately also this presumably lovely place with its art gallery located in a former motor workshop closes at 6 pm and does not keep open on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For an organic coffee or snack until 8 pm the only opportunity I've seen so far is the self-serviced cafe of the ALECO Biomarkt in the neighbourhood of Lehe, an urban train stop away from the main station.
Food and necessities
Glückswinkel package-free shop organic and responsibly produced small-scale regional food, fresh organic produce of the Findus organic bakery a few steps away, sustainable household items and cleaning agents, clothes for babies and toddlers, repair sets, nice gifts and more.
While the Glückswinkel is located in the centre of the old town, there's no organic convenience store in the mall of the Havenwelten area. Luckily the Grünschnabel Biomarkt is located only a few steps away.
The organic supermarket nearest the main train station is Der Bioladen in the
streets around Holzhafen, the part of town that from 1877 for about half a century was used to land and process timber. Note that these two traditional organic supermarkets close at 6 pm and are closed on Saturday afternoons.
To find an organic supermarket with more liberal opening hours you have to go to the neighbourhood of Lehe: There you find a branch of the regional ALECO Biomarkt chain which runs many organic supermarkets in the North of Germany.
Bremerhaven's only fully organic day cafe Findus resettled its activities during the covid-19 pandemics and became an organic bakery only. There are however plans to re-open the cafe, so check on location and ask at the bakery.
[Bremerhaven, Weserradweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, zero_waste, unverpackt, fair, corona, covid]