The Organic Traveller
Thursday, 01 July 2021

Verona: Zero Waste

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.

NaturaSi San Zeno

In fact all NaturaSi supermarkets I visited in June 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 Nueva 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.

Detergents refill station at NaturaSi San Zeno

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).

2021-07-01 14:00:00 [Verona, organic, biologico, grocery, supermarkets, cafe, snacks, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, household, bodycare] Link

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Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Organic Augsburg: Eat & sleep

One of the oldest cities in Germany, with roots back in Roman history, a rich medieval history -- including the world's oldest intact social housing project, the Fuggerei --, and the birthplace of Bertolt Brecht, one of the most influential writers in modern theatre, Augsburg is without doubt worth a visit. Conveniently located on the railway tracks between Munich and Nuremberg, urban trains ("Regionalbahn"/"Regionalexpress") from Munich central station depart twice an hour (at day time) and can be used with the Bayernticket flat-rate ticket for Bavaria which is the budget option if you plan to travel from and to Munich on one day (one way takes about 45 minutes). Augsburg is also an ICE/IC train stop: These high velocity trains will save you about a quarter of an hour on this route, but tickets usually come at a significantly higher price.

Bayerischer Wirt

If you plan to stay overnight there's a pleasant fully organic hotel about three kilometers from the main train station, the Bayerischer Wirt, a certified Bio Hotel in the suburb of Lechhausen, yet easily accessible by tram and bus or bike. Although the hotel is located directly at a noisy main road, the outdoor seating area in the backyard is a peaceful oasis. The hotel restaurant serves Bavarian meat and fish dishes as well as internationally inspired vegetarian ones -- with varying results: While the roasted meat was perfectly done (rare as requested, caramelized yet melting), and served with the most delicate onion crisps I've ever tasted, the strips of veal in mustard cream were quite bland and uninspired -- health food with boringly blanched veges and saltless (though home-made) spaetzle. Instead of ordering bottled mineral water you may fetch tap water from the water dispenser at no cost. Needless to say that all drinks are organic, too, and the aperitifs were a pleasant refreshment in the summer heat. The dessert menu is quite limited -- prefab organic ice-cream, home-made cakes and a parfait when I visited.

If a healthy local kitchen with liberal opening hours does not satisfy your expectations of a city vacation, there are two promising day cafes easily reachable for cyclists on the way from the main station to Lechhausen: Café Himmelgrün near the banks of the river Lech in Berliner Allee serves fully organic breakfast, lunch, coffee and cakes, and you can also find sustainable gifts and nice things. The cafe is run by Augsburg-based organic bakery Schubert -- you may have come across the name at the bakery counters of organic supermarkets, both in Munich, Nuremberg and elsewhere in Bavaria.

In front of the cafe's outdoor area the bakery has installed a mobile sales booth for bread, snacks and cakes of yesterday's production, from the quality control desks, with short best-before date or small blemishes, all sold at low fixed prices: A kilogram of bread for example comes at 3 EUR, yesterday's savoury snacks at 1 EUR the piece, and six pieces of cake at 7 EUR. Customers are encouraged to reduce waste and take home their purchase in their own bags or boxes. Unfortunately the booth dubbed Grünfux deluxe is closed in the afternoon as well as on Mondays and on weekends.

Augsburg's long history of textile fabric production, print and trade is reflected in the Bavarian State Textile and Industry Museum, less than 10 minutes from the inner city hotspot Königsplatz by tram no. 6. The museum's cafe dubbed nunó (from the Japanese word for "cloth") is not only a charming spot in an impressive industrial building of a former spinning mill, but also predominantly and certified organic, serving light and internationally inspired lunch, breakfast and Sunday brunch, and of course a recreational coffee. Meat, bread, veges, and eggs are reliably organic and of regional origin if possible while drinks at the bar are still predominantly conventional. As most museums the place is closed on Mondays and -- except for special occasions -- in the evenings.

If you are so unfortunate to strand before closed doors the next organic supermarket with a small bistro -- a branch of the Denn's Biomarkt chain -- is located in walking distance.

Inner city

Dreizehn

My absolute favourite for meeting friends or family is the cosy day cafe and bar Dreizehn within the Kresslesmühle cultural centre. The food is 100 percent vegan, properly seasoned and absolutely delicious. There's a daily changing special meal (a marvellously filling mushroom-spiced polenta with ratatouille, fried organic tofu crumbles and salad when I was there) in addition to the small standard menu. Unfortunately it's not possible to have breakfast yet, and when you cannot sit outside next to the old mill stream due to weather conditions it's advisable to book a table.

Anna

In the backyard of St. Anne's church, the Annahof next to the fenced city market, the church parish gives host to a lively all-day cafe restaurant cum bar dubbed Anna with a great outdoor area, which is open in the evenings, too. The place serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch inspired by international kitchens. Once it was certified organic, but since it no longer is the restaurant is not allowed to advertise with organic ingredients. Nevertheless the managing director assured me that they were still using as much organic produce as before: both eggs, milk and most fruit come from organic farms and distributors in the vicinity. On the menu you'll find organic beer (Lammsbräu), on occasions organic wine (ask for it), lemonade (charitea) and ice-tea. For breakfast you can have organic crunchy cereals, and the bread comes from the Schubert bakery. Unfortunately meat products usually aren't organic. During the warm season the cafe sells organic ice-cream to take away in a biscuit cone, delivered by the Cramer's confectioner's. Only plain flavours like vanilla, chocolate, plan hazelnut and lemon were available in July 2019, the scoop at 1.50 EUR.

For a light vegan lunch bowl or a smoothie stop by 100 percent organic ice-cream shop Juice 'n Cream in the Ulrichsviertel neighbourhood.

For both, cooked and raw vegan lunch or dinner or a wrap, soup or salad in between head a little south to Mom's Table, a fully organic vegan restaurant cum cafe. They also offer raw and no-bake cakes, freshly made juices, smoothies and plant-based shakes, coffee and tea as well as vegan organic wines. The kitchen closes an hour before the restaurant.

If you are in the mood for a pizza there's a branch of the partially organic NineOFive chain at Fuggerplatz.

For a no-frills coffee, snack or lunch you may also head for the self-service cafe at the city branch of the Basic organic supermarket chain between the state theater and the cathedral.

Bäckerei Schubert Königsplatz

Around the main train station -- bakeries and package-free

For last minute travel provisions you can buy an organic snack or sandwich at the Hofpfisterei bakery branch five minutes from the main train station. Unfortunately it's closed both on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you have some more time the city's package-free supermarket Ruta Natur is located no more than 10 minutes from the train station, directly on the way to the Stadtmarkt market place.

Alternatively you may proceed to the Schubert branch at the tram hub of Königsplatz. There used to be a serviced day cafe but after some reconstruction work the area of the bakery shop has diminished to the sales counter and a small self-service area where you may sit down with a sandwich or snack. When the weather is nice there are also chairs and tables outside. The coffee drinks from the automatic machine could taste better, but everything is organic.

There's another Schubert branch inside the city market, around the corner from St. Anne's church (and you'll find another Hofpfisterei branch there, too).

Closed

2021-03-30 20:30:00 [Augsburg, Augusta, organic, vegan, vegetarian, breakfast, lunch, dinner, Franconian, German, restaurant, eatery, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream, cafe, coffee, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, zero_waste, unverpackt, corona, covid] Link

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Monday, 01 March 2021

Nuremberg: Self-service cafes and eateries

As in most German cities addresses of organic groceries are an easy bet if you're on the lookout for an organic sandwich or coffee on the go during the day. But Nuremberg has more to offer: A good selection of casual organic restaurants and burger grills as well as some nice day cafes, all within walking distance from inside the walled city centre.

Gostenhof

The newest of them are located in Fürther Straße, which seems to become a vegan organic hot spot: Veganel, and The Green in the neighbourhood of Rosenau, a few steps west off the traffic machinery of Plärrer. You'll enter a cleanly designed vegetarian, predominantly vegan cafe cum eatery in black-brown-white optics perfectly suited both, to sit down and work or to meet friends. Their speciality are freshly prepared smoothies and super food drinks. In addition they offer a daily changing home-cooked lunch as well as coffee drinks. Between 80 and 90 percent of the fruit is organic, and the seasonal veges, predominantly sourced from a farmer in the vicinity, are so according to availability. Bread and lenses are organic, too, as is a selection of soft drinks (though the coffee and the pasta are not). The owners are happy to answer all your questions concerning the origin of the food, hence do not hesitate to enquire. Note that they are closed on Wednesdays.

Two corners away you'll find Bio und nah, the neighbourhood's only remaining (and fully organic) grocery, co-operatively driven on the premises of a former bakery. On weekdays they serve a simple (vegetarian) soup or stew at lunch time, and you can have a coffee drink and cake or sandwich throughout the day. Matching the atmosphere of a farm shop they are pioneering the zero waste approach in town with suspenders for dry goods. These are re-financed by the sale of organic cotton bags which you purchase to fill with legumes, corn, pasta, cerials, nuts and more, and re-use thereafter.

Located in south-western direction from Am Plärrer, in a neighbourhood with many nice Wilhelminian houses and a lot of Turkish and Arab shops right before the railway tracks you'll find an organic institution of old, the Lotos grocery and cafe.

Their latest brainchild is a hole-in-the-wall 100 percent organic veggie doner and falafel shop dubbed Falafelei next to the main entrance which was opened in March, 2016. The falafel "extra" dürum I had was very tasty, just the prefab dürum bread would be better replaced with a freshly baked one.

Outside pandemic restrictions you do not have to eat on the go -- simply tell them you're going inside and have it in the light and cosy winter garden in the back of the shop or on the roofed terrace during the warm season. Here you are also served coffee (or tea), cakes and, from noon, a tasty, daily changing hearty vegetarian or vegan meal inspired by ayurvedic principles (and not bland at all). All items of the set menu -- salad, main course and dessert -- can be ordered separately; you may also choose a small helping of the main course (which is just a small serving indeed). While you place your order for coffee and cake at the bakery counter (which will be served) you have to order and fetch your lunch from the kitchen window. Specify if you prefer the vegan version. You'll pay at the grocery's cash desk before you leave. They also offer breakfast in the morning and diner until 7:30 pm.

On your way back to the walled city centre, on Gostenhofer Hauptstraße you'll find a branch of the local organic supermarket chain, Ebl, a spacious venue with a street-facing self-service day cafe. Between 11 am and 2 pm they offer a vegetarian lunch on weekdays, and you can have a coffee or tea and/or cake or sandwich all day at one of the high tables (or to take out during covid-19 restrictions).

Within the walled city

On December 7, 2016 the supermarket chain opened their first branch in the city centre, Ebl city opposite the Germanisches Nationalmuseum which also incorporates a shop-and-eat day cafe.

Lotos Unschlittplatz

A five minutes walk north off Josephsplatz, with a view of the river Pegnitz, you'll find the second branch of Lotos, another cosily crammed grocery with a vegetarian lunch kitchen opening at noon. At the entrance turn to the left to find your way to the kitchen where you place and fetch your lunch order (they share the menu with the eatery in Hessestraße). You can have it on high tables in front of the kitchen or move to the room to the right of the entrance where you can sit down and relax. Coffee and cakes have to be ordered from the bakery counter where you also pay. Note that during covid-19 restrictions you cannot eat on the spot and have to take your meal with you -- either in your own boxes and jars or in reusable containers for which you pay a deposit.

If you fancy a coffee near Hauptmarkt head for one of the many owner-run delicatessen and sweets shops, the Maulbeere ("mulberry") in St. Sebalds. You will also be served breakfast and home-made cakes, with organic milk and eggs while you can marvel at lovely seasonal flower arrangements.

Closed due to covid-19 measures

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down and where replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2021-03-01 14:55:01 [Nuremberg, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, fastfood, doner_kebap, falafel] Link

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Saturday, 09 January 2021

Nuremberg: Zero-waste

Interestingly (and contrary to other cities) the first gravity bins with organic dry food appeared in Nuremberg organic supermarkets, long before the first dedicated package-free grocery opened its doors. But now that the latter are here they support the thesis that supermarkets, even organic ones, tend to use gravity bins made from plastics while dedicated zero-waste groceries use glass suspenders whenever possible, taking the threat of plastics pollution as serious as possible.

The beautiful neighbourhood of Gostenhof has long been a hotspot for organic lifestyle, so it does not come as a surprise that the first crowd-funded package-free grocery store in town, Zero Hero, opened here in 2017. It's part of a small regional chain, with a second branch in the city of Erlangen. Like many other members of the Unverpackt e.V. association of German packaging-free shops they have a focus on organic products of the local, i.e. Franconian region (like the pumpkin seed oil) and prefer products with low carbon dioxide footprint. A speciality is the freshly milled nut butter often with a flavouring ingredient like chocolate -- flavours are changing, and you can even buy pet food. Most food items are organically certified, the rest comes from reliable near-organic sources, and you will even find organic convenience food like ready-mixes of couscous or lentil patties. Needless to say that there's a good selection of natural and eco-friendly household chemicals and body care products as well as a selection of German books on zero-waste lifestyle.

If you can't find all the dry food you need step by the Gostenhof branch of the regional organic supermarket chain Ebl, on your way back to the walled city centre. The chain has several branches in Nuremberg with bakery, cheese and butchers counters that all will accept your bags or boxes, but (plastics) gravity bins with dry food have been installed so far only here and in the less central neighbourhoods of St. Peter, Gärten bei Wöhrd as well as in the suburb of Mögeldorf. However, since packaging-free food supply is on the rise gravity bins are surely to appear in other branches, too.

If you prefer the personal contact in traditional organic groceries to the anonymity of the bigger supermarket chains head for the corner shop of Bio und nah in the Rosenau neighbourhood, to my knowledge the first grocery in town that invested in gravity bins (plastic ones, though).

Freivon

From there on it took several years that, in the covid-19 year of 2020, the first dedicated package-free self-service supermarket appeared in the tourist spot of the walled inner city: The light and friendly, inviting shop of Freivon ("free from") in St. Sebald offers virtually all you need in both, your bathroom and kitchen except for fresh fruits and veges, starting with loose-weight ready-made falafel mixes, chewing gums or Bavarian gin, vodka and vermouth, and ending with sheabutter in retour glasses. On the shelves you'll find labels that clearly indicate whether a product is organically certified or vegan and what kind of allergenes it may contain. Needless to say that also this shop has a focus on fairly and socially responsibly produced products from the greater region, and most of the food is certified organic. Different from other zero-waste groceries it offers a decent choice of very competitively priced broken chocolate, and you may mix both, all chocolates and all wine gum types to your liking as they have the same price, respectively.

As soon as covid-19 restrictions will be removed you may also have a coffee drink and cake on the spot and let accompanying children play in the play corner.

2021-01-09 17:00:01 [Nuremberg, Erlangen, organic, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste] 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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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.