Tuesday, 13 September 2022
On a long-distance bike tour like the one from Munich to Venice the challenge is not to know when you will arrive where. So upfront research on the net isn't an option unless you really have lots of time to spend on preparing the tour. So when we arrived in Bruneck at lunch time my backlist contained only one item, a small organic supermarket which not only was closed for the
traditional Italian lunch break, but had closed for good a few monthes ago, in June 2022.
Luckily we found a branch of the South-Tyrolean delicatessen
Pur Südtirol selling regional produce, a majority of certified organic quality. Everything is presented in style, there's an organic bakery till and one for cheese and (not organic) cold cuts. A few gravity bins allow customers to refill dry food (not organic as far as I could see); the fresh fruits and greens were all organic.
There's a nice self-serviced cafe corner offering a daily changing seasonal vegetarian main course. Since we wanted to have our bikes within eye-sight outdoor seating was the only option. Unfortunately all these tables were taken, so we decided to proceed our tour through the Puster valley and take with us rolls, which the friendly service staff filled with cheese and some greens while I was waiting.
Across the main street, Graben, a health-food shop, the
Reformhaus Egger can help to complete supplies.
More to try
[The_Conscious_Traveller, Italy, Bruneck, Brunico, Pustertal, Puster_Valley, MuenchenVenezia, organic, biologico, supermarkets, grocery, cafe, eatery, lunch, deli, zero_waste]
Sunday, 28 August 2022
So far I haven't found dedicated organic zero-waste shops which sell most of the food items from self-service dispensers in the Veneto yet. Italians are very fond of nice packaging, and even in dedicated organic supermarkets the cashier will helpfully offer you a (bio-degradable) bag. But the times are changing, and declining it will no longer be met with unbelief.
In fact all NaturaSi supermarkets I visited in 2022 and 2021 (namely the ones in Selvazzano Dentro, Abano Terme and the one in Verona's neighbourhood of San Zeno a little North-West of the Porta Nuova train station) not only offer most fruits and vegetables without packing, but also a small selection of dry food from gravity bins which you weigh into your own (pre-weighted) boxes and jars. In addition the San Zeno shop offers loose-weight household detergents to be bought by the gram.
As of NaturaSi's information the same should also apply to the branches in the neighbourhood of Veronetta and in the suburb of San Massimo (which also sports an organic day cafe).
[Verona, organic, biologico, grocery, supermarkets, cafe, snacks, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, household, bodycare]
Thursday, 25 August 2022
Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping.
Big conventional supermarkets and discounter shops in Bremen like Rewe and Penny often keep open until 10 pm Monday to Saturday. The latter puts green labels on the shelves in front of organic products which help to find organically certified food.
There's a cluster of Sunday-open shops inside Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, and these usually keep open on public holidays, too. So unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you should be safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.
A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products and non-dairy alternatives, drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the Reformhaus Bacher health-food shop (before 2021 its name was "Betterlife"). All fresh bakery products are organic, but you have to check for organic labels on pre-packaged items as about half the products on offer aren't certified as organic food or natural cosmetics.
With their own brands "Alterra" (certified natural cosmetics), "Eco-Freude" (sustainable household detergents) and "Alverde" (food) Rossmann drugstores are an alternative for the small purse. The branch inside Hauptbahnhof keeps open 16 hours a weekday, and 14 on weekends and bank holidays. It's easy to find: Climb the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub.
What's unique for a German city is that there's a Sunday-open package-free convenience store:
Selfair at the Steintor.
For pre-packaged organic sausage and meat products, predominantly in the jar head for the Lebensmittel-Punkt inside the Markthalle 8 food court at Domshof. When you enter the building there's a 24x7 open vending machine at the right hand side where you can buy a lot of regional sausage specialities as well as ready-made meat stock.
You can also put orders of fresh meat at their webshop and collect your order on Fridays and Saturdays between 11 am and 6 pm from the dish counter of the food court.
The name "Lebensmittel-Punkt" is a play on words – the composed noun can mean both, "place to buy food" and "centre of vital interest".
At the organic farm of the Kaemena family in Blockland you'll find 24x7 open vending machines for local organic products. Here
you can tap raw or pasteurized milk into your own bottle, the liter for 1.20 EUR.
If you did not bring one you can buy a returnable milk bottle for the price of 2 EUR the Regiomat vending machine which also stocks jam, drinking yogurt and cheese from the farm as well as cheese, eggs, honey and sausage in the jar by organic farms in the vicinity. In addition there's a little freezer with iced lollies at 2.50 EUR the piece for which you pay into the honesty box next to it – all worth the bicycle tour on the dyke as cars need a special permission to come here. Don't forget to bring cash.
Both, the jam and jogurt glasses can be returned here for re-use (there's a separate "waste-bin" next to the vending machine), but to get back the deposit for the milk bottles you have to turn to the farm cafe during its opening hours.
In 2022 a second milk vending machine and a Regiomat found their way into the city: In front of the Friedenskirche in the Viertel you can however tap pasteurized milk only, no raw milk. As the milk has to come here by car the prize for the liter is higher than the one next to the milking parlour.
And last but not least: The Kaemena's newly (in 2022) established ice-cream cum farm shop in the Neustadt part of town keeps open on Sundays and public holidays and sells jogurt, cheese and naturally milk.
[Bremen, Blockland, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation, farms, Regiomat]
Sunday, 14 August 2022
Located at the mouth of the river Weser, the
port of Bremerhaven has been ensuring
the hanseatic city of Bremen's access to the sea for sea-going ships since the 1820ies. While the
container port (and unfortunately also the cruise ship terminal) continue to be important sea hubs, the historic ports of the Havenwelten ("port world") with maritime museums of all kinds make the family-friendly city a perfect destination for everyone interested in science, ships, and (e)migration.
A destination of the easy-going
Weserradweg bicycle route Bremerhaven can not only be reached by regional train from Bremen, but also comfortably by bike.
Eat and drink
Since the Findus cafe and restaurant re-invented itself as an organic bakery during the covid-19 pandemics and staff shortage prevails in 2022 there's currently (to my knowledge) no place to have (predominantly) organic dinner. But during the day take the chance to visit Deutsches Auswandererhaus, a museum dedicated to German emigration to the Americas. The museum has a pleasant cafe cum restaurant, the Speisesaal, with a spacious outdoor terrace facing the quays of the so-called new port in the Havenwelten area.
Their menu consists of two parts: Fully organic, predominantly vegetarian international lunch classics like pasta, stews, and gratins, and not necessarily organic maritime classics like fish soup or fish'n'chips. The organic dishes and beverages are all marked "bio" and can be recognised by the red font colour on the menu. Fish and seafood come from responsible sources. Naturally the milk for coffee drinks is also organic. 2022 staff shortage leads to occasionally slow service, so enjoy the view and be a little patient.
While the Speisesaal is open to the general public, the Cafe südwärts inside the Klimahaus 8° Ost a few steps away can only be accessed with a valid ticket to the museum. The museum features places located on the same lattitude like Bremerhaven as an interactive journey through the (changing) climate zones of the earth and as such is highly recommended by itself. The cafe can be accessed after you come to the river landsacpe of Cameroon and offers
organic egg, pasta, orange juice and bionade lemonades. The fish also carries
MSC certificates, and there are
no meat dishes.
The museum's shop
is accessible for non-visitors from the entrance, the so-called Havenplaza. It offers environmentally and socially resposibly produced gifts and dry food,
but unfortunately does not serve (fairly traded) coffee.
To have an organic coffee not connected with a museum you have to walk longer south, to the Fischereihafen ("fish port"). Here you'll find a small owner-run café, Grethe's, directly located at the quay. All coffee and milk is organic here, as are most of the ingredients for their cakes and vegetarian food. You can have burgers, pasta dishes, soups and stews, and most drinks apart from a few spirits are organic, too. Unfortunately also this presumably lovely place with its art gallery located in a former motor workshop closes at 6 pm and does not keep open on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For an organic coffee or snack until 8 pm the only opportunity I've seen so far is the self-serviced cafe of the ALECO Biomarkt in the neighbourhood of Lehe, an urban train stop away from the main station.
Food and necessities
Glückswinkel package-free shop organic and responsibly produced small-scale regional food, fresh organic produce of the Findus organic bakery a few steps away, sustainable household items and cleaning agents, clothes for babies and toddlers, repair sets, nice gifts and more.
While the Glückswinkel is located in the centre of the old town, there's no organic convenience store in the mall of the Havenwelten area. Luckily the Grünschnabel Biomarkt is located only a few steps away.
The organic supermarket nearest the main train station is Der Bioladen in the
streets around Holzhafen, the part of town that from 1877 for about half a century was used to land and process timber. Note that these two traditional organic supermarkets close at 6 pm and are closed on Saturday afternoons.
To find an organic supermarket with more liberal opening hours you have to go to the neighbourhood of Lehe: There you find a branch of the regional ALECO Biomarkt chain which runs many organic supermarkets in the North of Germany.
Bremerhaven's only fully organic day cafe Findus resettled its activities during the covid-19 pandemics and became an organic bakery only. There are however plans to re-open the cafe, so check on location and ask at the bakery.
[Bremerhaven, Weserradweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, zero_waste, unverpackt, fair, corona, covid]
Friday, 05 August 2022
When dedicated zero waste convenience stores started to bloom in bigger cities like Munich in the covid-19 spring of 2020 Bremen already had three established package-free shops, with a fourth one that opened its door early in 2020 and plans for two more. Back then some of the shop keepers were afraid that there might be too many to survive in a city of the size of Bremen, but a year later they are all alive and kicking. Even when you run out of food on a Sunday you can grab your jars and boxes and set out for refill.
All you need for the day
My favourite is crowd-funded L'Epicerie Bio in the Neustadt neighbourhood, just across Wilhelm Kaisen bridge. Lovingly decorated in the style of an old colonial shop you'll find an abundance of food, spices, sweets and wine, body care and household items here, including fresh fruits and veges and pet food by the gram. There's no separate customers' scale, instead the friendly shop owner wil take the tax weight of your boxes and jars. As you marvel at the interior you may buy a coffee or refreshment, but there's no real cafe corner.
In 2021 they even startes to sell frozen organic food by the gram: samosas, falafel, French fries, veges, berries and more.
While L'Epicerie is as far as you get from the carrots-and-dungarees cliche of a traditional organic grocery of the 1970ies, the second package-free shop in the Neustadt looks exactly like a traditional Bremen organic cornerstore 2.0: The dusty shop window of Füllkorn, with some wilted potted plants makes it difficult for passers-by to even spot the place. Inside everything is spotlessly clean of course, and there's also a coffee and refreshment option. Unfortunately the shop was closed when I was there, but I'm sure it's friendly and welcoming, too. They have a milk tapping machine from the Kaemena farm.
The newest package-free shop in town is
Die Füllerei in Findorff which opened in February 2020. With a beautiful flower-bed in front of it you cannot miss the shop even though I couldn't make it here during their opening hours. Unlike the two shops in the Neustadt there's a vending machine for fresh milk from the Blockland. The soap bars are produced in the very neighbourhood, by Martha's Corner, and the washable cosmetic pads and bags are made by a local plastic-free fashion label, Mamoana, with its the Oceanlovers concept store in nearby Admiralstraße. Just from the looks clearly my second favourite.
The tram stop "Am Schwarzen Meer", (in)famous for a fastfood-and-beer kiosk popular among the city's enthusiastic football fans has become a destination for conscious eaters: At the end of the Steintor road you'll find both, a Sunday-open package-free convenience store and a friendly CSA farm shop.
The first one, Selfair, has by far the most liberal opening hours of all package-free supermarkets I've visited so far. It's a pleasant combination of a traditional organic cornershop, a contemporary package-free supermarket and an immigrant shop with a good selection of oriental-style bread, baklava, pickles and mezze. The latter aren't organic, nor are about 3/4 of the fresh fruit and greens. However, there's an abundance of loose-weight and pre-packaged organic food items, spices, sweets, beverages and more. There's tinned food and preserved food and dairy products in glasses, and almost all beverages come in returnable bottles. They also have a section with zero-waste household items and sustainable toiletries, and in general the shop is free from plastic foil packaging. Many of the organic veges, bread and cheeses are bio-dynamic and local, and most of the conventional food is produced in the region, with little agrochemicals.
On the Northern side of the tram tracks you'll find
a small and inviting farm shop, the
Solawi-Hofladen. Despite the name it's not
only a pick-up point for the members of the community-supported organic Sophienhof farm, but a cosy farm shop run by two bio-dynamic farms, the Sophienhof and the Lütjenhof, and an artisanal fair-trade coffee roasters', all from the greater region. Needless to say that you can have a coffee after having filled local grains and pulses from gravity bins and bought meat, eggs, cheese, veges and more.
Package-free sale of bakery items and cheeses over the counter, loose fruit and veges as well as dairy products and drinks in returnable bottles and glasses are of course the norm in all traditional organic convenience stores like the city's oldest organic grocery Kraut und Rüben ("cabbage and roots") in the Ostertor neighbourhood, the co-operative Oecotop in the Neustadt or the Kornkraft supermarket in Habenhausen with its day cafe which is part of a small local supermarket chain.
Traditional co-operatively driven convenience stores in Bremen are all open to the general public by now, and so is Abakus in Steintor founded in 1998 which in 2020 repeatedly was voted one of Germany's best organic groceries. The shop which doesn't hide its political views doesn't have a working web site, but sells loose-weight grains and cereals. When I was there again in summer 2020 there was however an information that they wouldn't order more muesli unless the demand by members of the co-operative was bound to increase.
Specialist shops for body care
Founded 20 years later in Findorff Martha’s Corner is a heaven for body care addicts – which since 2022 is located in Walle.
Don't be mistaken, the owner and mastermind isn't Martha, but Claudia, offering hand-made natural soaps, solid shampoos, deodorants, body and lip butters and more, made here on premise. Bring back the deodorant and cream jars for refill and keep in mind that the shop is closed on production days.
During the nice season Der Fährmann Antony ("Antony the ferryman") sells hand-made natural shea and cocoa butter from Ghana on a mobile booth on the Kaemena farm in Blockland. Come with your own jar, and he will happily fill it for you. The opening hours below should however be taken with a grain of salt – when the weather is too cloudy or even rainy Anthony may decide that the effort of his bicycle tour out into the Blockland wouldn't match his sales expectation. In summer 2022 there were also shortcomings as deliveries from Ghana took weeks longer than usual, and during our stay in August 2022 we met him not before 4 pm.
Out of Bremen
If you take a bicycle tour to Lilienthal (which – despite the fact that the Bremen tram no. 4 ends there –
isn't a part of Bremen, but a municipality in the adjacent state of Lower Saxony) you have even more options – check out the Lilienthal post.
[Bremen, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, bodycare, gifts, butcher, fashion, solawi, CSA]