Monday, 02 March 2020
If you are looking for pioneers in the German zero waste movement you'll find one of them in Dresden's Neustadt neighbourhood:
Pack a selection of glasses, containers and bags and stop by Lose ("loose-weight"), a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. Unlike other package-free supermarkets this one does not only sell dry food but also offers veges and has a cheese counter. Since not everything is organic be careful to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask.
The coffee corner is a nice place to recreate while your kids are busy in the playing corner. Mind you: like other package-free shops Lose does not have an illuminated window front, so be brave to try the door handle -- the place looks quite dark even during opening hours.
In April 2019 a second zero waste supermarket opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Pieschen:
crowd-funded Quäntchen (the name of an old weight unit, denoting about 4 grams). Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to step by yet, but I'm sure it's a friendly and inviting place.
Supermarkets with zero-waste stations
Moreover all shops of the co-operatively organised local wholesale chain VG Biomarkt offer a good selection of loose-weight organic dry goods (in addition to an abundance of often locally produced fruit and veges and dairy products and drinks of all kinds in returnable glass bottles).
Their main shop is located near
Bahnhof Mitte train station, an entire organic warehouse on the premises of a former newspaper printing plant. Standing back from the main street the first floor is occupied by an organic convenience store supporting your zero-waste efforts. On the second floor there's a well assorted organic fashion store mainly for babies, children and women, with a section offering organic body care, household chemicals, sustainably produced toys, stationary and more.
For members prices are lower, but the warehouse is open to everyone.
On weekdays the self-service bistro directly facing the street offers delicious lunch (only snacks on Saturdays), and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists which (except on Mondays) opens half an hour before the supermarket itself, and closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Watch out on Mondays: The shop including its bistro opens at 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.
VG Biomarkt also has branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz, of which the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.
The Loschwitz branch dubbed VG Balsamico is conveniently located
opposite the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway ("Schwebebahn") next to
Körnerplatz at the northern end of Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") bridge.
While these local groceries were early adopters a number of nation-wide operating organic supermarket chains have been following. In Dresden all branches of the Berlin-based supermarket chain Bio Company introduced dry food suspenders for use with your own jars.
When you take the Elberadweg bicycle route on the southern shore in direction Niederwartha you'll pass a nice old farmyard, the organic Bauernhof Franz in Niedergohlis. It runs a subscription scheme -- phone or e-mail your order until Wednesday and collect it from the farmshop on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you happen to step by on one of these days and there's someone around you may be able to buy vegetable oil and perhaps also potatoes or other produce from the farm.
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, vegan, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, bodycare, household]
Sunday, 01 March 2020
Organic wholesale in the capital of Saxony (which is governed by a red-red-green coalition) used to be dominated by the local economy,
but since the oldest organic supermarket in town, Biosphäre, became part of the nation-wide Denn's chain in 2018, the picture has been resembling the one in other German metropolises: The market is devided between two local actors, a regional one and two of the nation-wide operating grocery chains, with a hand-full of smaller corner shops filling niches.
The largest density of organic supermarkets can naturally be found in the vibrant Wilhelminian style quarter of Neustadt north of the river Elbe with its -- gentrification aside -- still predominantly left-wing population of artists, students, activists, tourists, hipsters and bourgeois green-party voters.
It hasn't been always this way, but walking the old streets of Innere Neustadt with open eyes will present you with an abundance of shops and eateries boosting of vegetarian and vegan products. Many of them use organic produce, but won't advertise it -- partially because they blend with conventional products, and use of organic ingredients will vary, partially in fear of being prejudged as expensive. Fortunately it is nowadays easier to find an organic supermarket in this neighbourhood
than a conventional one, so if you're tired of asking just walk to the next crossroad, and there you are.
The former Biosphäre markets are located here: the older one on Königsbrücker Landstraße opposite Schauburg theatre, and an even larger one in Alaunstraße a few metres from Albertplatz which replaced a conventional supermarket. Both have a self-service area where you can have coffee, cakes, pastry, sandwiches at any time of the day, and soups for lunch. Students are entitled a 10 percent discount on Wednesdays.
Berlin-based organic supermarket chain Bio Company has a branch a little south along the tramway tracks on Königsbrücker Landstraße. Just like the Denn's branches it closes at liberal 9 pm.
If you despair in face of the piles of plastics and paper wrappings you've been collecting while doing your regular shopping, re-use your glasses, containers and bags and refill them at Lose, a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße.
With the train stations as landmarks you can't miss your way to the next organic supermarket in the heart of the city: The Vorwerk Podemus grocery beneath track 3 in the eastern aisle of the central train station, Hauptbahnhof, is the only Sunday-open organic supermarket in town, with early and late opening hours. They will also sell you a coffee drink and sandwich to eat on the spot or to take away.
The Denn's Biomarkt chain not only took over the two former Biosphäre markets in the Neustadt but also opened a new supermarket within the Altmarktgalerie shopping mall.
A few steps, located next to Dresden's baroque main tourist sites -- the castle, the cathedral, the Zwinger, and the opera house -- a new
Bio Company branch opened recently, with quite liberal opening hours.
Bahnhof Mitte train station you'll find the main branch of VG Biomarkt, an organic co-operative which not only supports your zero-waste efforts but also sports its own organic fashion store.
Striesen, Blasewitz, Loschwitz, Johannstadt
The neighbourhoods along the river shore on the east side of town sport several branches of the zero-waste friendly VG Biomarkt food co-operative.
South of the Blaues Wunder bridge, local butcher's chain Vorwerk Podemus has one of its pleasant wholesale supermarkets.
First address for shortly travelled organic meat of animals which had a decent life. They also have branches in the neighbourhoods of Gruna, Neustadt, Alttolkewitz as well as a farmshop.
Another option in the neighbourhood of Blasewitz is the second Bio Company branch in town. Just like in the Neustadt branch the bakery disk caters for the early bird from 7:30 am.
The only branch of a nation-wide operating organic grocery chain so far is Alnatura on tram hub Straßburger Platz which many locals still refer to by its old name from GDR times, "Fucikplatz".
Bühlau, Weißer Hirsch
To find fully organic groceries on top of the hillside North of the Blaues Wunder bridge, in the elegant residential area of Weißer Hirsch and adjacent Bühlau interestingly proves to be more difficult. What I found instead was the shop of a small-scale vegan manufacturer, Vegannett (a pun made of the words "vegan" and "nice", while the second part of the name also refers to the name of the owner-founder, Annett). On the premises of a former partially organic butcher's shop she prepares vegetable spreads which you can buy in many of the aforementioned supermarkets. But if you happen to be there on a Wednesday afternoon, pay a visit, taste and shop. In addition to the spreads you can also buy local honey.
If you fancy a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide or are on the way from or to the airport make sure to have sufficient time to visit the beautifully restored historical train station Klotzsche with its
Vorwerk Podemus supermarket and the organic station restaurant, both catering for the early bird.
On the western side of town take your jars and bags and pay a visit to the friendly organic neighbourhood grocery.
The following (partially) organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, lunch, snacks, coffee, vegan, trainstation, farms, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg]
Thursday, 27 February 2020
While buying organic requires little effort in Salzburg, minimizing waste is an entirely different issue. If you wish to carry home your purchases in your own re-usable containers you depend on the cooperation of the shop, which even in organic supermarkets can be surprisingly little. But by the end of 2019 Salzburg got its own dedicated organic pay-by-weight grocery: In the Andräviertel neighbourhood GenussProGramm (a pun which can be translated as both, "pleasure by the gram" or "pleasure program") opened in lieu of the
former Frau von Grün grocery five minutes south of Mirabellplatz which had been offering a good selection of loose weight organic goods.
Stylish and spacious the place has the looks of a cafe rather than of a grocery, but do not be mistaken: you may come here for both, your daily shopping as well as for breakfast, lunch and coffee. A small selection of fresh fruit and veges, dairy products, vegan alternatives and bakery items round up the quite exhaustive supply of dry goods and package-free household items, all nicely presented.
To add Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen to your shopping bag take your jars to the Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace, and politely ask to fill them. Unfortunately this was the only organic booth at this daily farmer's market I spotted during my visit, and it's there on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Offsite tourist tracks but on your way to Hellbrunn castle or zoo you'll find the only Salzburg branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic which allows you to shop almost all daily necessities without producing non-compostable waste.
To refill milk around the clock head for the milk vending machine at the Erentrudishof farm in Morzg, a pleasant bike ride from the city. There's also a farmshop, of course with more restricted opening hours, where you also can buy eggs, spelt, wheat and rye produced by the farm.
When buying bread, rolls, cake or snacks from organic bakeries you should by now no longer meet strange looks when presenting your bag or container. But organic bakeries in town seem to be afraid of advertising themselves as "bio", so it can be difficult to find the right place.
Elisabethen-based artisanal bakery Pföß has a shop next to the Sternbräu area in the old town.
Unfortunately only the bread is promised to be organic, the white rolls tasted bland as if they were made of conventional flour. On the other hand the Krapfen doughnuts were a real delight, crisp and still a little warm, filled with fruity apricot purree instead of oversweet jam. If you come here for a snack stay away from the conventional softdrinks, and you may wish to ask whether the sandwiches are made with organic toppings.
If you want to be sure to get 100 percent organic bakery products, visit the Grünmarkt at Universitätsplatz: Four days a week you'll find the booth of Bio-Bäckerei Itzinger on its Eastern side, near the Ritzerbogen hallway. The bakery also offers vegan bread and rolls and has a focus on wholemeal products.
[Salzburg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, deli, market, breakfast, snacks, farms]
Wednesday, 29 January 2020
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.
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
There's still another small-scale organic grocery in the south, a little out of town, the Bioladen in Pirnas Grünem Haus.
[Pirna, Heidenau, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, bodycare]
Tuesday, 07 January 2020
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 historial 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.
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 on both, on Saturdays and Sundays, and all of them close as early as between 6 and 7 pm.
Also in Prague you will 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.
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.
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" but "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.
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 had 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:
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. 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:
[Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery]