The Organic Traveller
Thursday, 28 October 2021

Nuremberg: Sustainable shopping

Nuremberg has a lot of independent small shops worth visiting in the main pedestrian area of the city centre (as long as you avoid the lanes occupied by global chains), and quite a number of them care about sustainability, fairness and the environment in some way or the other. The following shops except one are all located within walking distance within the city walls, and the list is totally biased, doing injustice to shops I simply did not recognise.

Wurzelsepp

Nuremberg traditions

Drawing from Nuremberg's history as an important medieval trade centre on the crossroad of horizontal and vertical trade routes is the Wurzelsepp herbalist shop. In fact the shop was established in 1933, and you may question whether this should be positively connoted advertisement. I at least would have preferred to find a discussion of the shop's history in the Third Reich on their website. It's missing, so all you are left with is this beautiful shop, a realm of spices, teas, dried herbs, natural body care and perfumes, real frankincense, hand-made sweets, and more. Roughly estimated a quarter of it is organic, so check for labels or ask the helpful staff.

Wicklein

The abundance of exotic spices from the spice route traders and honey from the nearby forests caused the rise of the profession of the honey cake bakers ("Lebküchner") in the medievals. So even though Pfefferkuchen or Lebkuchen are a Christmas tradition you probably do not want to leave Nuremberg without locally produced gingerbreads. From end of October through December they are easy to find in every organic grocery, but off-season your best bet is the gingerbread shop Wicklein which offers a small selection of organic varieties. They can be distinguished by their packaging with a fir green "bio" label. Unfortunately none of the tempting gingerbreads by the piece are organic.

Both shops are directly located on Hauptmarkt and keep open on Sundays during Christkindlesmarkt advent market.

Fair trade

Nuremberg proudly presents itself as a Fairtrade Town, and unlike in other cities fair trade shops can be found in the middle of the urban city centre. They are run by volunteers from church parishes, and traditionally offer a selection of sweets, herbs, spices, tea and coffee, dry goods, jewellery, fashion items, body care, stationary, home textiles, candles and other colourful gifts. Eatable items are predominantly organic, gifts and household items often made from recycled materials. Fresh food is not available, though both of the following shops sell bananas.

Lorenzer Laden (often referred to by its abbreviated form, Lola) is an intimate place. Tucked away in a small alleyway East of Lorenzer Kirche it is totally secular in its presentation, and although its product range overlaps to some extend with that of Fenster zur Welt, you will find a lot of things only in this shop. The Lola shop is also a hub for customers of a Community supported organic farm.

Probably easier to find is Fenster zur Welt ("Window to the World") near Hallplatz. It's also the bigger one of the two, and consequently offers a bigger selection. They do not hide the fact that they are a parish enterprise but there's definitely no proselytisation ongoing.

More sweets, wines, coffee and gifts

The cosy confectioner's shop Chocolat close to Weißer Turm is a paradise for chocolat lovers. They offer a huge range of high quality chocolates of international provenience, often fairly traded, and to a noteworthy part organic. Check for labelling or ask the friendly ladies behind the bar. You can also treat yourself with a hot chocolate, though it's not organic. The entrance is facing Hutergasse, so do not be fooled by the address.

Die Maulbeere

Another of the many small individual shops in the old town is Die Maulbeere, a florist's cum coffee cum sweets shop cum cafe.

Once a start-up, nowadays a veritable organic specialist's chain, MyMüsli has a store near Hauptmarkt where you can buy dozens of cereals and porridges, and of late tea and coffee. They also offer free wifi.

Regional food specialities, wines, condiments and more, all produced by small-scale farms and artisanal manufacturers can be found at delikatEssen at the Weinmarkt around St. Sebald church, another small owner-run delicatessen. If you insist on organic certifications you have to select carefully, as seems still to be the norm for this type of shop. Note that it is closed on Mondays.

If you fancy wine and a bicycle ride to the North-Eastern edge of town step by Die Weinhalle near Nordostparkt which I personally have not visited yet -- it was recommended by a friend. They specialize in natural wines, and a good selection of organic ones are among them. Alongside you can choose from a selection of delicatessen -- Italian antipasti, coffee, chocolates, etc., among them many organic ones. In the webshop you'll find organic products with a simple search for the "bio" keyword.

If you happen to be in Nuremberg in December, don't miss the annual sustainable winter market Winterkiosk at the Kulturwerkstatt auf AEG cultural centre near the tube stop Eberhardshof. It's always happening on a weekend, in 2021 on the 4th and 5th of December. Stroll around and let you inspire from art and handicraft. Most eatable and drinkable items are organic. The market charges a small entrance fee of 5 EUR for adults. Note that in 2021 a covid-19 vaccine certificate is mandatory.

If you wonder how a luxury organic department store looks like visit Grüne Erde at Hallplatz, a branch of a small Austrian chain. Traditionally they sell fairly produced furniture, bedding, cushions, home textiles, bathroom items and interior design stuff, all made from sustainably sourced natural and often organic materials. It would not be a department store if it did not offer luxury organic bodycare, candles, chocolates, sweets, dry goods and delicatessen as well as a small selection of liquors. Recently they added fashion basics like t-shirts to their sales mix. A pleasantly silent and nicely smelling oasis after a busy day -- until it comes to payment. They will ask you for your name and address to send you their catalogue and track your purchase, so be polite and tell them you do not want to be neither registered nor tracked (unless you really want it). Usually the shop assistants will comply without further questions, so don't feel tricked into giving details (or be prepared to give false information).

Fashion

See here.

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:

2021-10-28 17:30:00 [Nuremberg, organic, fair, fashion, spices, deli, gifts, shopping, bodycare, confectioners] Link

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Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Nuremberg: Sustainable, organic and eco fashion

Apart from the omnipresent fast fashion stores of H&M and C&A where it is, according to Greenpeace's Detox Catwalk, morally acceptable to buy cheap organic clothes, Nuremberg offers a selection of concept stores of smaller independent fashion labels with sustainable approaches. Although very different they have something in common: awareness for the environmental and social impact of fashion right from the start, durable products eco-consciously made in Europe, and slower fashion cycles. Of course, all of them sell online as well.

For streetware and young designer labels opt for Glore north of Weißer Turm, on your way downhill to the river Pegnitz. This is the place to look for fresh, exciting styles and vegan fashion, both, for men and women. All items on sale are certified, bearing trustworthy organic and fair-trade labels. They also have a small range of organic bodycare on sale.

Colourful ethno-inspired clothes for women, predominantly made from organic materials can be found at Gudrun Sjödén at the eastern end of Josephsplatz. The Swedish designer is an eco fashion pioneer, and presents her collections on models of all ages. Apart from clothes you will also find home textiles.

A few steps away in north-eastern direction, south of Karlsbrücke you'll find Deerberg, a concept store of a family-run business which started as a mail order firm for sustainably produced shoe-wear. Since they have been extending into clothes for women sustainably made in Europe which is the focus of the store. Unfortunately there are still few organically produced textiles, and the styles are comparatively boring, but the shoes are worth a look as long as you do not shun leather.

Lysu

For children step by Lysu, a cosy specialised shop offering fairly traded clothes, toys and accessories made from organic and natural materials for babies, toddlers, pre-school and elementary school kids. The shop is tucked away in Obere Wörthstraße, on the southern shore of the river Pegnitz, opposite the Trödelmarkt island. Like many other small shops also this one is closed on Mondays.

2021-10-12 13:00:00 [Nuremberg, organic, fashion, shoes, fair, vegan, bodycare, shopping, covid, corona] Link

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Monday, 04 January 2021

Organic Bohemian Switzerland: Děčín

About an hours train ride from Dresden, the town of Děčín may be used as a starting point for walking tours in the rough countryside of Bohemian Switzerland. Directly located at the Elberadweg cyle route you can easily reach it by bicycle, most conveniently along the southern shore of the river on tarmac surface (except when passing the small towns of Bad Schandau and Königstein). Eco-conscious visitors to the castle which is still being restored and the baroque rose garden however face a problem not unknown to smaller cities: There's no 100 percent organic place in town.

West of the river: Bodenbach/Podmokly

There used to be a raw and predominantly organic cafe, Zdravá kavárna Emavík near the Synagogue on the left (western) side of the river on the grounds of the historical town of Bodenbach (Podmokly), but it seems to have moved to Varnsdorf.

If you do not want to compromise you'd better buy provisions for a picnic. You should find a good selection of pre-packaged organic (dry) food, sweets and drinks as well as natural body care at the city's branch of the German chemist's chain DM located within the Pivovar shopping center in Letna, on the Western shore of the Labe river where also the main train station is located.

Products from farms in the vicinity you'll find at the farm and cheese shop U Pati at the train line next to the town museum of Podmokly. Some of them may be near organic, but it's hard to find organically certified products.

On your way along the train tracks towards the bridge you'll find a nice cafe with a focus on sustainability and support for local small-scale producers: Kafe na mapě is furnished with recycled maps and pallets and offers home-made bagels, cakes and good Italian-style coffee drinks. Vegetarians and vegans are taken good care of; organic ingredients are used occasionally.

East of the river: Děčín/Tetschen

Bio Koko

The best option in the old town is Bio Koko, a light and cosy zero waste grocery around the corner of Masarykova place. It stocks a great selection of loose-weight dry food and a few preserves and oils in glass bottles and jars. There's also a small fridge with organic yogurt and gorgeous fresh milk, but no fruits and veges. Not everything is organic, but all organic items are clearly marked with a green dot. The place has a play corner for small children, but unfortunately no serving. You may however order a coffee to take away in your own cup (and pay by volume).

Coffee & Books

For an organic tea proceed to Coffee & Books, a cosy corner cafe cum delicatessen serving yummy home-made cakes, breakfast and snacks of high-quality though unfortunately not organic ingredients. The place with its upcycled interior and book shelfs (and an outdoor seating area) used to have a range of organic tea bags of the Austrian Sonnentor brand, but exchanged them for a Czech brand, and since then only the English breakfast and the green tea have been organic. I decided to list this pleasant place here hoping that they may be convinced to introduce more organic items, perhaps organic milk for the coffee drinks as a start. The paper straws used here are a good start.

Bistro Les

The tip for vegan Bistro Les on the foot of Děčín castle, located at the left-hand side of the bridge when crossing into the old town came from the owner of Bio Koko. It's not dedicated organic, but they are using unadultered produce of their own garden when possible. Due to the restricted opening hours -- closed, both, on weekends and in the evenings -- I could however not make it there.

Valdemar Grešík, a nation-wide supplier of health and wholefood is operating out of Děčín, so it does not come as a surprise that there's a natural wine and delicatessen shop near the castle. When I was there the shop was closed, however: Their webshop does not give much hope to find many organically certified products.

Out of town -- East of the river

If you want to know where the organic milk sold at Bio Koko comes from take a bicycle ride along the river and up the hills to the producers, Biofarma Hampl near Hrensko: Although there's no farm shop the organic farmer will happily sell you his milk and delicious cheese, a smile, Czech crowns and some sign language will do.

In opposite direction, South of Děčín, in the village of Březiny you'll find the local coffee roasters "Caffe08" which also run a pleasant on-premise cafe dubbed Kafárium. Unfortunately none of their coffees is organically certified, but the cafe advertises with organic lemonades and soft drinks of the Berlin-based "Proviant" brand.

Temporarily closed due to covid-19 measures

Not organic

On the web I found customer testimonials claiming that the Burger Berg burger restaurant on the foot of the Pastýřská stěna ("shepherd's wall") climbing rock on the Western side of the bridge would use organic meat. The restaurant itself however would not confirm this, and the menu does not indicate a high level of eco-consciousness. Not unlikely that the reviewer was referring to the meat for the game burger when writing "organic". That said: In the absence of restaurants with a focus on sustainability in town the place is one of the better choices.

Closed

2021-01-04 17:00:00 [Decin, Tetschen, Bodenbach, Podmokly, Hrensko, Boehmische_Schweiz, Bohemian_Switzerland, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, bodycare, zero_waste, covid, corona] Link

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Sunday, 03 January 2021

Organic Prague

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

Country Life Melantrichova

Daily necessities

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

While fully organic supermarkets haven't taken off so far there's a increasing number of package-free groceries. However, only a smaller part of the products at these "bezobalu" are organic, so even here you have to watch out for the "bio" labels. Since my stay in Prague has been limited to a weekend I don't have reviews to offer, just had a glimpse at the shop windows of Jelen next to the Organic Sushi restaurant in Nusle where you can find dry food, herbs and spices, natural body care and more in a pleasant location. There's also a small chain of zero-waste shops simply dubbed Bezobalu.

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

In a meat-loving place like this I hoped to find an artisanal butcher's shop offering high-quality organic meat from ethical husbandry. The nearest I came is Naše maso ("Our meat") in Josefov (in the same boring mall like My Raw Cafe) which indeed is an artisanal butchery sourcing the animals from Czech farms keeping traditional breeds and using them from nose to tail -- but whether the animals are kept and slaughtered according to organic and animal-welfare principles I can't say (the shop was closed when I was there).

Restaurace Country Life

Eating out

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

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

My Raw Cafe

Maybe as a result of the meat-centric Czech cuisine Czechia has a thriving raw-vegan community, with successful producers in this niche sector. In Prague there's a number of raw vegan cafes, one of them My Raw Cafe in Josefov, located in a rather uninviting new mall. Don't be fooled -- despite the deserted feel of this mall on a Sunday it's open every day. While the personnel is kind service was extremely slow: All food is prepared while you wait and this can take a while even when the space isn't filled to the brim. The food was made with quality ingredients, some of them organic, but supporting the health food cliche of vegan raw: my Thai soup wasn't spiced at all tasting like pure coconut milk with curcuma and a few veges. My favourite: the Bohemian-style avocado tartar with raw bread which was exactly as umami-sour as its properly made meat equivalent.

Organic Sushi

My favourite restaurant is located off the tourist tracks, in the neighbourhood of Nusle, east of the Vyšehrad viewpoint over both, the city and the Vitava river. In a street with nicely restored bourgeois houses and sett pavement you'll find Organic Sushi, run with love for pure, unadulterated food. The comforting sushi comes nicely arranged on granite plates and is of highest quality, perfectly accompanied by the home-made matcha lemonade. The place is located in the basement and pleasantly decorated in lounge-style, perfect for unagitated conversation with friends or a romantic evening out.

Restaurants in the Jewish quarter naturally cater towards the culturally interested touristic clientele, and among the finer dining restaurants I'd expect a certain usage of organic ingredients. Promises for organic meat and pasta I found on the menu of established kosher restaurant King Solomon offering meat-centric traditional Ashkenazi food (which I haven't tried so far) and (for organic meat) at La Veranda. The Italian and French inspired kitchen here uses regional ingredients and serves good-quality, though neither exceptional nor exciting cuisine. The service was satisfiying, the staff nice (though not especially knowledgeable) and since the restaurant was quite empty in the covid-19 summer of 2020 we had a generally pleasant dining experience. Unfortunately there were no organic drinks available.

Puro Kaprova

Coffee and ice-cream

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

Fair&Bio obchod in Florenc for a fairly traded, organic coffee drink. The place is a classical fair-trace shop offering dry food, sweets, coffee, tea and spices as well as handicraft made by co-operatives.

A small selection of organic ice-cream flavours can also be had from a franchise of the upmarket French ice-cream company Amorino in Malá Strana, e.g. after you decent from the castle.

More to try

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

Where to stay

Want to stay in an eco-conscious place and wake up to an organic breakfast? I have to disappoint you -- so far I haven't been able to spot a hotel or hostel that I full-heatedly can recommend. However, here are my learnings: Hotel Josef

On their website the design hotel Josef in the city centre announces partially organic breakfast, but since I stayed there while covid-19 hygienic restrictions were in place I cannot report whether the regular breakfast buffet in the impersonal business breakfast room usually contains organic items. Breakfast was served instead at their newly renovated sister hotel Maximilian. Here nothing was organic, not even the eggs. When I asked for my cappucchino with organic milk I got one probably made with oat drink, but since I wasn't able to spot the package I cannot say for sure whether it actually was an organic variety -- for most people in Czechia the word "organic" seems to include conventional vegan. At the Josef hotel bar The Duke organic dry gin was the only organic option.

If you prefer to stay a little out of town Hotel Adalbert located in a former baroque monastery claims to be an eco hotel but confirmed not to serve any organic breakfast items. Ask for it in the hope that customer demand may have the power for change.

Ceased to exist

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

2021-01-03 13:00:00 [Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery, covid, corona] Link

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Organic Pirna

Pirna, a nicely restored small town a little east of Dresden and the entire surrounding district Eastern Erzgebirge/Saxon Switzerland may be best known for its bad reputation as a stronghold of outer right-wing extremists, neo-fascists and populists. But fortunately the town also has a strong civil society which cleans up the spitted at windows and works for a humane neighbourhood and the integrity of creation. So whether you're on the road with your bicycle travelling the Elberadweg or take the urban train from Dresden -- have a break to support these brave people and marvel at the town with roots in the stone age, its rich medieval and modern history.

Café Bohemia

For a coffee break head for Café Bohemia a little off the market place, located in a restored renaissance house built in 1480. When the weather is nice you may take a seat outdoors, on the pleasantly quiet cobblestones of Schmiedegasse ("blacksmith's lane"). The Italian-style coffee drinks are made with organic milk, and the rich and lipsmacking home-made cakes contain organic eggs and milk as well as organic fruit and herbs, both home-grown or collected from meadows in the surroundings with scattered fruit trees. As the Saxon cake tradition has it the friendly owner will serve the cake with a dollop of cream. Unfortunately the cafe is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

On these days, in the morning or if you prefer a hearty lunch proceed to the Vorwerk Podemus organic supermarket you may know from Dresden, with its fully organic bistro.

Another option for a cake or snack is the town's only artisanal organic bakery Spiegelhauer near the train station. The family also had an organic cafe cum ice-cream parlour in nearby Heidenau but this does no longer exist.

Small German towns with beautiful old city centres often have a small traditional organic corner shop in one of the historic lanes, and Pirna is no exception: However, the owners of the former organic greengrocery Naturkosten closed their shop near St. Mary's city church a few years ago and turned it into a beautiful organic bodycare shop, boringly dubbed Naturkosmetik.

There's still another small-scale organic grocery in the south, a little out of town, the Bioladen in Pirnas Grünem Haus.

Closed

2020-01-29 19:00:00 [Pirna, Heidenau, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, bodycare] 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.