Saturday, 18 May 2019
When you're captured in the boring conference centre Moa-Bogen (not far from the Berlin main train station, Hauptbahnhof) where not even the tea bags in the conference area are organic (with the notable exception of one type of simple black tea which was available from one single tea bag dispenser) all you want is to go for a stroll at lunch time.
But this is not Kreuzberg and it's not so easy to find organic food options. What I discovered in the vicinity were two vegan day cafes with more or less limited use of organic ingredients, both not more than a five minutes walk away (though in opposite directions).
Around Birkenstraße tube station
For cheap and simple, filling vegan food find the ice-cream-shaped neon light of
vegan Café Geh Veg next to the Birkenstraße tube station (the name is a mesh up of the literal translation of "go veg", the German word for pedestrian way -- Gehweg -- and the German phrase "Geh weg!" meaning "go away"). This small and somewhat shabby place serves breakfast until 2 pm as well as black bean burgers, salads, bagels, wraps and cakes. Unfortunately it’s only partially organic: The bagels, the tempeh and the soy and the oat drinks are organic, most of the tea bags and soft drinks are, too, but veges, yogurt alternatives and the ice-cream usually are not. The coffee is even cheap conventional supermarket fare.
Questions about the origin of the ingredients were dealt with in a friendly way, but the staff does not seem to be very knowledgeable. Note that the toilets are next door.
For way nicer surroundings in Spanish style walk in opposite direction: Directly located at the pleasant retreat of Stephansplatz with a nice children's playground surrounded by Wilhelminian style houses you'll find Valladares Feinkost. It's not only a
100% vegan café, but
also a small organic grocery selling organic dry products, dairy alternatives, wines, lemonades, water and even natural cosmetics.
The coffee is roasted in town but not organic, the plant-based drinks are.
According to the barrista fresh veges used in the dishes would usually be organic, but there's no commitment to what's organic and what not. Unfortunately the cakes aren't.
The oat-drink-based cappuccino I found too sweet (due to the brand), so here the one from Geh Veg was better, despite the inferior coffee.
From Birkenstraße take the U9 tube one stop to Turmstraße, and you're in the heart of Old Moabit, with busy shopping streets and pleasant residential areas. Here you'll find
the Domberger Brot-Werk, a true
artisanal bakery with an open bakehouse as part of the shop. It smells deliciously here and you may be surprised by the limited selection of items -- just a few types of bread and rolls, and one type of cake if you come in time for the latter. But the taste! I still regret that I did not buy a loaf of bread to take with me, since the Bavarian-style pretzl I had was overwhelmingly tasty: fresh from the oven, with an intense flavour of wheat and baking stone (although Bavarians would probably complain about the softness). The bakery itself is not certified organic, but uses
certified organic flour, eggs, and milk. The fruit for the cake and other ingredients come from the Kreuzberger Markthalle 7 and may not be organic. Needless to say that you can have a coffee, too, probably also in front of the place when the weather is nice.
For 100% organic ice-cream head for the
Eisbox ice-cream parlour a few corners away. Unfortunately I run short of time, so share your experience with me if you come here.
There's also an organic supermarket of the small Berlin-based LPG chain a few meters further west which also offers fully organic lunch. Their bakery counter opens an hour before the supermarket, at 7am.
The LPG groceries are organised as a co-operative with a focus on regional producers and neighbourhood welfare, offering discounts to its members. Its name matches the common abbreviation for the agricultural production cooperatives in former East Germany.
At the main train station
Within the city's huge main train station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof (which you can reach within a few minutes on the TXL bus from the Turmstraße stop located on Alt-Moabit street) it's hard to find a supplier of organic provisions (you'll have to fall back to the conventional Rewe supermarket or the Rossmann drugstore and check for organic labels). I could not find any eatery using organic ingredients, but you can at least have organic coffee drinks and tea at the Pret a manger self-service cafe. When you enter the station from the southern exit at Washingtonplatz this is the first place to the left. They use fresh organic milk from the Bavarian Andechser dairy, but unfortunately none of their cakes, cookies, sandwiches and other own-brand snacks are organic.
[Berlin, Moabit, organic, vegan, cafe, restaurant, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries]
Thursday, 16 May 2019
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.
A few steps west enter crossing Friesenstraße to the left, and you'll find Glück to go, serving ayurveda-inspired healthy vegan or vegetarian burgers with organic buns alongside organic beer and softdrinks. Unlike the eateries within the Marheineke-Markthalle next to the playground this place is open on Sundays.
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 keeps open on Sundays and is catering for the early bird Monday through Saturday from 7 am. It also offers a small selection of organic food items to complete your breakfast table. In return the bakery boothes in the mall have longer opening hours in the evening, but do not serve coffee or lunch.
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.
Opposite Beumer & Lutum you will find Doçura Chocolate, a confectioner's shop offering a decent selection of organic chocolates and tisanes. Since about two-thirds of their sweets are conventional check for organic labelling.
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.
While the latter two 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.
If you happen to feel hungry after shoe-shopping pay a visit to Schulz&Korn, a small partially organic delicatessen cum eatery on your way from Trippen back to Schlesisches Tor. You can choose between two simple, predominantly organic vegetarian dishes (like pasta or baked potatoes with salad), and shop your daily supply of grocery. The dry goods, drinks and veges are organic, but most of the cheeses and meat-based products are surprisingly not. You'll probably want to avoid the Argentinian empanadas made by a friend of the shopkeepers as they are made using conventional minced meat. The staff is friendly and doesn't turn grumpy when you enquire about the origin of the ingredients and supplies. The shop looks like an organic grocery of old which has adapted itself to its neighbourhood, and is frequented by locals. Note that they are closed on Saturdays.
Another of the probably many organic groceries turned partially organic eateries and delis is Der Milchladen ("The milk shop") near tube stop Moritzplatz. More styled than Schulz&Korn, 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]
Tuesday, 14 May 2019
To find a place offering at least partially organic meals, snacks or coffee isn't a big deal in Salzburg, and places like the Bio-Burgermeister are frequent tourist destinations. But there's more than just healthy organic fast food -- from pleasantly modernized Austrian bars over cultured beer spots to slightly esoteric day cafes there's a broad range of places to choose from. What you shouldn't expect are authentic restaurants offering elaborated international cuisines, but that's probably not what you are here for anyway.
When you're hungry and don't know where to go head for the Bio-Burgermeister in the middle of busy Linzergasse pedestrian street. With its liberal opening hours (no closing day, open until 10 pm) and central location this no-frills burger grill is serving both, meat, vegetarian, and vegan versions, purely made with organic ingredients. The service is swift, the burgers and side-dishes fresh, crisp and tasty, and most of the soft drinks and the beer are organic, too (though you have to check the bottles for organic labelling). The hot varieties I would describe as spicy rather than hot, and they come up with interesting seasonal versions like the pumpkin burger with a pumpkin patty. For meat patties you can choose between medium-done and medium-rare. The place serves neither desserts nor coffee.
Unfortunately it has implemented bad habits of conventional fast-food places, too: It produces a lot of waste since the meals are served on cardboard one-way plates, and the staff is neither busy cleaning the tables nor refilling paper towels.
If the burgermeister is too crowded or you prefer to produce less waste a burger restaurant is just a few steps away: The Ludwig doesn't promise fully organic burgers, but organic patties made from organic beef, turkey or mushrooms, organic pulled pork and bacon.
In addition to burgers the place also serves salad bowls, desserts and breakfast (including organic eggs in a number of varieties). Among the drinks fruit juices and teas are organic.
Located in a pleasant backyard with a small fountain this cafe cum restaurant is also a much nicer place to spend time with friends or family -- during the warm season on the spacious terrace, on rainy or cold days in the large urban-rustic dining room.
The Urbankeller is not just a perfect address for a rustic meal accompanied by local organic beer, wine, juice or lemonade in the restaurant or a civilised drink at the adjacent bar. It also houses a stage for live acts -- predominantly rock, jazz or experimental theatre, and the occasional crime play reading. Although the place is certified by Bio Austria not everything is organic. Fully organic dishes however are clearly marked with a green logo on the menu, and a good deal of the un-marked meat-based dishes (including nose-to-tail ones using offal) are served with organic meat (check for the "bio" keyword). Vegan and vegetarian options are also available. If you consider one of the typical Austrian flour-based desserts ("Mehlspeisen") make sure to come with sufficient appetite.
Schallmooser Hauptstraße where the Urbankeller is located changes its name to Linzergasse (or Linzer Gasse, the naming is not consistent) when it runs over into a pedestrian area towards the river Salzach. Amid its touristic jumble you'll find the Stadtkrug, a family-owned hotel and restaurant of old, with roots in the 14th century. The family runs an organic highland cattle farm north of Salzburg and serves the beef at the restaurant specialising in typical Austrian dishes. The farm has its own slaughterhouse on premise which allows the cattle to die as stress-free as possible within their known habitat. The chicken served in the Stadtkrug is also organic as are some hard cheeses and the ice-cream and other products made from sheep's milk. The breakfast at the hotel unfortunately is not organic.
On the other side of the Salzach river September 2018 saw the opening of a new organic predominantly biodynamic restaurant and bar opposite the museum of modern art inside the Mönchsberg cliff, the Humboldt, a pleasantly modernized version of an Austrian "Gaststube", with geometric dark-wooden interior, a light-and-steam installation serving as a fire place surrogate, green cushions, table-clothes made from felt, and a green-lighted bar. For lunch on weekdays you can choose between two set menus consisting of a soup or salad (your choice), and a vegetarian or omnivore main dish which come at 9 or 11 euros, respectively. In the evening the kitchen emphasizes on Austrian signature dishes like the Viennese Schnitzel (a delicate, crisp, yet melting dream), boiled filet ("Tafelspitz"), and pancakes ("Palatschinken") as dessert (which were quite unexceptional).
The menu clearly marks organic, biodynamic, vegan and vegetarian items and also lists the sources of all ingredients which usually are Austrian farms and producers, often located in the vicinity. In all drink classes organic options are available, and often you have no choice but to drink organic. The bar keeps open until late each day, making it the perfect place for an evening out, and there's outdoor seating, too.
When I was doing research on restaurants serving local dishes links on the web lead me to "Hirschenwirt" which turned out to have been reconverted into a conventional place. Its current publican however was so nice to point me not only to the Urbankeller but to another place which I'll present here although I did not have the opportunity yet to visit it personally:
The Schützenwirt in Sankt Jakob am Thurn is another Bio Austria certified place combining cultural events (namely occasional small stage theatre) and culinary art and may be worth a visit in combination with a day out in the countryside. Contrary to Urbankeller all dishes are 100 percent organic, but you have to be prepared to do without your mobile due to missing coverage.
Back in town, just a few steps from the Stadtkrug vegetarian fusion food with roots in the Indian cuisines has been served for almost 20 years at Spicy Spices. This pleasant eatery may not be the place for the romantic dinner but is a nice location for a chat with friends, accompanied by a healthy lunch, a coffee, chai and/or cake, all organic. You can also shop for their home-made spice mixtures, chutneys and pickles which make tasty gifts.
The second surviving organic restaurant of old also draws its inspiration from the subcontinent and East-Western fusion. The Heart of Joy is a vegetarian (vegan friendly), predominantly organic cafe cum eatery run by followers of Sri Shinmoy. The latter is openly presented which may not be your idea of the perfect surroundings for a recreational sip of coffee or an Italian, Austrian, oriental or Indian inspired lunch in this otherwise pleasant location. Students are entitled a ten percent discount, and breakfast on weekends is being served all day.
For a simple lunch or a piece of home-made organic cake you may also try the A* bar in nearby Auerspergstraße.
For a fully organic breakfast, lunch or snack in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, pay a visit to Rochushof, an organic supermarket with a light-flooded verandah restaurant overlooking the adjacent Stiegl brewery.
To enter the place walk to the back of the supermarket, and -- for lunch -- choose between a vegetarian soup, a vegetarian and an omnivore main dish. Contrary to many organic supermarket bistros you will be served here. The
kitchen closes on weekdays at 5pm, on Saturdays there's breakfast only.
If you are near the main train station on a weekday during daytime the bistro Leichtsinn ("carelessness") is worth a try. You'll find it if you leave the train station in western direction via Südtiroler Platz and walk in southern direction along Rainerstraße parallel to the tracks until you reach Elisabethstraße.
Tea, beer, and cheese are always organic here, and
the owners promise to prefer organic and regional ingredients, but admit that some ingredients such as avocados definitely won't be organic. Unfortunately I did not get an answer to whether the meat and other products of animalic origin are organic, so better ask about them.
The menu changes daily, and you always have the choice between
a soup, one vegan, one vegetarian and one meat- or fish-based dish in addition to salads (mix your own from the salad bar), home-made foccachia sandwiches, wraps, quiches, and empanadas (the owner-chief originates from Ecuador). The place is great for
breakfast, there are home-made cakes (also vegan), shortbreads and fair-trade coffee, and if you need provisions for your travel, simply order to take away.
Arguably the city's best pizza can be had when entering a non-descript entrance on Franz-Josef-Straße south of Paris-Lodron-Straße: Here you find a place boringly dubbed Organic Pizza Salzburg, and this is exactly what it is: A totally unpretentious venue serving glorious 100% organic pizza in vegetarian, vegan and omnivore varieties, all well worth their 9.80 to 16.80 EUR. Instead of the standard base made from wheat you may order one made with spelt. Choose your drinks from the fridge (most, but not all organic), and have a home-made organic and vegan cake with fairly traded ingredients and/or a locally produced ice-cream to end your meal. No frills, just love, and in contrast to other fast food places covered here you will be served on real plates instead of paper waste. Unfortunately the place is closed on Mondays and Sundays.
For a relaxed or romantic evening with one or two (or more) glasses of natural wine proceed to Enoteca Settemila in Bergstraße (though neither on Sundays, Mondays, nor on Tuesdays). Most likely you will not only taste the wine but buy a couple of bottles as natural wines for which even less chemical helpers are demanded than organic certification allows are not necessarily easy to find. To go with the tasting the wine dealers serve both, fully organic Italian and Austrian-style snacks (the Austrian variety of the antipasti is dubbed "Brettljausn") with Tuscan and locally sourced cured meats and cheeses as the main ingredients.
Just a few steps from Organic Pizza Salzburg you'll find a crowd-founded vegan cafe. The
breakfast, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as smoothies and cakes, everything predominantly organic.
For a vegan or vegetarian, partially organic lunch, dinner or weekend brunch head for the neighbourhood of Gneis where chef Julia and her happily carnivore dog welcome their guests to the The Green Garden. The place consists of two locations, the daily (except Mondays) open restaurant, and a cafe cum wine bar annex. Julia promises predominantly fresh seasonal Austrian ingredients as far as possible produced without chemically synthesized fertilizers and preservatives. The tea (including iced tea), most wines, some beers, eggs and goat cheese are certified organic. On the menu you'll find bowls, soups, salads, vegan burgers as well as pasta and vegetable versions of Austrian signature dishes like the schnitzel, but the place is also great for breakfast and healthy snacks. Note that it is closed on public holidays as well as in the early afternoon; the kitchen always closes an hour before closing time.
During the nice season The Green Garden also sells vegan organic ice-cream to both, guests and passers-by.
Coffee and cakes
For the real coffee thing head for Röstzimmer 15 a few meters from "Spicy Spices". A cosy living room serving artisanal (though not necessarily organically certified) chocolates and pastries with Ethiopian organic coffee roasted in the room next door where you also can have a small lunch.
A new address for a fairly traded organic coffee is cafe Kuchenfee
("the cake fairy") in Paris-Lodron-Straße. Their home-made cakes, unfortunately, are not organic (yet?), but you can buy organic bread. With its chary window front the place is easy to be missed, so make sure you keep your eyes open.
An Italian-style coffee drink prepared with organic milk can also be had at Fabis Frozen Bioyogurt.
Closed or no longer organic
[Salzburg, organic, lunch, dinner, takeaway, restaurant, cafe, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, Austrian, Indian, burgers, pizza, supermarket, grocery, wine]
Sunday, 21 April 2019
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.
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.
Farewell to plastics
The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, and recently renamed to Der plastikfreie Laden. At this pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. The focus of the shop is an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings, but you may also shop a selection of food items like potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget to bring your own jars your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from re-used glass containers for free. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent.
In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in the latter 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.
Three years before, on February 20th, 2016 the city's first 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, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin, vodka and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars.
There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from an ever increasing range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.
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.
This crowd-funded supermarket is strictly organic and vegetarian. 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. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.
Inhabitants and passers-by in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen will be happy to learn that a second branch opened January 23, 2019 a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, but does neither offer lunch nor fresh fruit and veges. For the time being there's also no refill for liquid shampoos. In return the clean and pleasantly light shop keeps open longer on saturday evenings.
Supermarket chains to follow
In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner
supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with
cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake.
The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, and independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food.
To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box 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. So you'll better find an artisanal organic butcher's shop or your nearest Herrmannsdorfer grocery to buy meat in your own box, e.g. the one on Max-Weber-Platz. Here you will also be rewarded with a 4 cents discount per saved packaging.
At Basic self-service cafes you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme. Dispensers reliably offering a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains can be found in all branches I've visited so far, but the number of goods may vary from basic to covering most of your store cupboard except for dried herbs and spices, coffee and tea.
Basic supermarkets selling toiletries and household chemicals may have dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand as well as for shampoo and shower gel. These dispensers can be driven in two modes: If they allow you to decide how much to refill (like at the Basic Bogenhausen) you must either come with an empty original bottle or buy one the first time. Your purchase will be weighted at the checkout and the weight of the original bottle will be detracted. When I complained the staff explained to me that a label with correct chemical declaration was required by law, hence I wasn't allowed to refill bottles without or with deviating bar codes.
Prior to April 2019 you
could take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping the standard volumes the choosen detergent was sold by to your own bottle.
This way you couldn't refill smaller than the original bottles and were obliged to make sure you had at minimum a 1 l or 2 l bottle with you (500 ml for shampoos). After refill a label with the correct declaration was printed out for you. It's likely that some Basic branches still operate according to this mode, but to my knowledge there's currently none in Munich.
To buy dry goods most of the Basic branches have prominently placed scales where you
measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction.
Some branches may still follow the scheme formerly employed at the one near Isartor where you were expected to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content into the packaging you brought along (which was quite tricky as funnels were not provided). In this case
you were not allowed to use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section.
Some Basic branches like the Basic Bogenhausen also offer freshly ground nut butters.
Until recently the latter also had a refill station for frying and salad oils as well as tea and coffee dispensers but unfortunately no longer.
For refilling fresh milk from the grass-fed cows of the Nirschlhof farm in nearby Grafing take your milk bottles to the recently opened Vollcorner supermarket near Theresienwiese which also has a butcher's counter and a lunch cafe. It's the same milk as used in True&12 ice-cream.
Neighbourhood groceries and farmers' markets
In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, olive oil, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter. Also for the olive oil refill you must bring a clean bottle yourself (but you have to wait for it until autumn 2018 since the 2017 harvest has been sold out).
Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing.
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 where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. 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.
Artisanal bakeries and butchers
Meat lovers will be happy to learn that Munich, the home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent family-run organic butcher's 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 slaughtered animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch on weekdays. If you are in the Maxvorstadt, the Pichler family also runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket which offers lunch items to take away and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves.
At the Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner opposite the Lebascha grocery mentioned above in Haidhausen the staff is also used to fill cakes, rolls and bread into boxes or bags handed over the counter. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those baked with white flour. If you come here for an organic coffee or lunch break don't expect wonders from the automatic coffee machine and insist on using your mug if you order coffee to take along. For lunch the bakery offers readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzl). There's another Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
Coffee and food to take away
Most cafes serving organic coffee are sufficiently aware of the coffee beaker waste issue that they will fill your own cup without hesitation. Some like Die Kaffee-Küche, the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small discount for sparing the environment. There is an increasing number taking part in the recup.com retour scheme, among others the Neulinger bakeries or Siggis coffee bar and restaurant.
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.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, bodycare, household, sushi]
Monday, 08 April 2019
Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are a few survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelfs and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in the corne shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.
Munich's oldest existing organic supermarket is the Kornkammer in Schwabing, just a minute away from Münchner Freiheit. It's located on two storeys, and you can comfortably sit upstairs with your coffee or smoothie, browsing your smartphone or reading a book. Unfortunately they stopped to serve lunch, but you can still have a piece of cake or a prefab organic spring roll. The range of goods available from the shop is a wild mixture of groceries, body care, bare foot shoes, esoteric articles and more. Mind you: If you happen to take the wrong street you might end up in front of the Denn's supermarket branch in Feilitzschstraße 7-9 -- Kornkammer is located on the next parallel street further north.
In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available), on Saturdays between 11 am and 1 pm. If you find the place too crowded step by the zero-waste grocery Ohne where fully organic lunch is being served from 12 o'clock. Note that Mother Earth no longer is a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.
A real full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen is Lebascha run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. You will often find them in a brief chat with customers from the neighbourhood, and they will happily serve you coffee drinks and a delicious cake. During the warm season you can sit outside and relax in a relatively quiet street with beautiful houses. They don't have a freezer, but make up for it with arguably the biggest selection of liquorice in town (though only a few of them are organic).
You can bring along your own glasses and boxes in order to buy liquorice, cheese, antipasti and cakes or borrow Lebascha's returnable jars for a small deposit.
A few corners away from tube stop Implerstraße in Sendling the neighbourhood grocery Hollerbusch ("elderbush") offers
vegan and vegetarian lunch as well as yoga, pilates or singing lessons in a backroom.
The shop is also a delivery hub for the Munich based community supported agriculture project Kartoffelkombinat.
While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. Since about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.
Specializing in cheese and supplements -- wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few -- the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picknick or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses.
When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic.
The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.
A very special mono-themed convenience store, Hanf -- der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The main shop (which is closed on Mondays) isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. But wait: in 2019 a second one opened at a tourist-friendly location between Isartor and Marienplatz.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
[Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, fashion, bodycare, eatery]