The Organic Traveller
Monday, 26 March 2018

Organic Trondheim

A university city and a cultural hotspot in Norway it does not come as a surprise that Trondheim offers sufficient opportunities to almost effordlessly adhere to a 100% organic and eco-conscious lifestyle. This hasn't been always like this, but during the past few years more and more shops and eateries offering organic items have opened, and the availability of organic products in general has increased dramatically.

Eating out

For a sandwich for breakfast or lunch head for the cafe in the backroom of the organic Godt Brød bakery near Nordre gate, one of the pioneers of organic food in Norway. Choose the filling of your sandwich or savory bread roll (most ingredients except the meat-based ones are organic), have a decent coffee drink (the milk is organic), tea, a sweet organic bread roll ("bolle"), and/or an organic juice (e.g. from the nearby Rotvoll juicery in Ranheim which has its own organic grocery on their premises). About half of the cold drinks are not organic, so check for the "økologisk" keyword. During the warm season, treat yourself with a pre-packaged organic ice-cream from Reins Kloster. Everything is offered to take away, too. What you probably would not expect: The dough for the sweet bread rolls is dairy-free, the bakery uses porridge made from oat and water and rapeseed oil instead of milk.

Heartier food like organic egg and bacon for breakfast or lamb burgers for lunch or dinner, together with organic softdrinks can be had at Ramp Pub and Spiseri at Svartlamon. Vegetarian options are available. Service at this shabby-homely place may be a little slow, and not all of the ingredients are organic. Formerly entirely furnished with formica tables and chairs the interior has improved since, but gentrification hasn't replaced the proletarian chic yet. The kitchen closes at 9 pm.

For pizza and beer head for Selma, one of the many pubs in the former ship repair workshops at Solsiden. Unfortunately none of the drinks (apart from a fresh cassis-flavoured nordic sour) is organic, and most of the food isn't organic either, but they use organic flour for the best pizza dough in town and have some organic ingredients among the toppings. Their store cupboard being a part of the interior you can see that they, among others, use both, organic and conventional tomatoes, organic vinegar and syrup. Some of the fresh herbs are organic, although the basil wasn't at my visit. The best pizzas here aren't the classical Italian ones but their own creations which go extremely well with beer. They happily omit the meat toppings if you ask so but expect to pay the full price anyway. Make sure to place your orders at the bar (and pay at once), taking with you the drinks. The food will be served.

Real organic food, vegan and vegetarian, is served at Cafe Stammen in Kongens gate. Unfortunately they are closed for refurbishment until January 18, 2018, so I am still unable to pay a visit. Let me know about your experience if you happen to eat there before me.

Fortunately an organic pioneer in the city, vegetarian eatery Persilleriet is not far away. It has been offering predominantly organic wraps and sandwiches since 2005, both to eat at the spot and to take away. There is a second self-service lunch restaurant on the premises of St. Olavs hospital which unfortunately is closed not only on Sundays, but also on Saturdays.

For a cosy, almost entirely organic and Sunday-open cafe take a stroll through the Bakklandet neighbourhood with its small and beautiful wooden houses on the Eastern shore of the Nidelva river. Kafe Soil on the premises of former "Annas Kafe" serves yummy organic cakes, cinnamon rolls, lemonades, juices, smoothies, tea and more. The coffee is often organic, too, and there's usually a vegan soup or stew for the hungry on the entirely vegetarian, generally vegan-friendly menu. When the cafe was opened it shared its venue with a micro brewery. The latter has moved since but as a result you still can come here for a beer (although the organic beer is imported from Germany). Also worth a note: The soap in the bathroom is organic, which takes an extra effort in Norway where certified natural body care isn't sold by conventional supermarket chains yet. Kafe Soil occasionally plays host to intimate concerts, vegan community arrangements, clothes exchange gatherings and other grass-roots sustainability arrangements. Closed for holidays until January 10th, 2018.

Food and daily necessities

The city's first address for zero-waste shopping is a cosy fair-trade grocery, Etikken: Bring along your own bottles and boxes to refill with organic detergents, grains, and dried fruit. This not-for-profit undertaking partially run by volonteers offers a good selection of organic food, drinks and sweets, along with household necessities like eco-friendly baking sheets and detergents. They offer a decent selection of preserves and vegan alternatives, but no fresh fruit and veges. The shop is also a reliable source of organically certified make-up, skin and hair care, organic wipes, tampons and menstruation cups.

In 2016 Etikken moved to a new and bigger venue in Olav Tryggvasons gate between Nordre and Søndre gate (next to the Norwegian handicraft shop "Husfliden"), but many sources on the web still list its old address in Fjordgata.

Helios

For fresh food head for the city's organic pioneer, the Helios convenience store in Prinsens gate. At the end of 2016 the shop closed down but was taken over by new owners immediately and is now as reliable as before. You will find all daily necessities -- food, toiletry, detergents etc. -- in organic quality, including frozen pizza, ice-cream, unhomogenised fresh milk and Norwegian caramelized brown cheese. The frozen "lefser", Norwegian "pancakes" topped with butter, cinnamon and sugar and folded together, are not organic but nevertheless worth trying -- simply defrost and enjoy.

At Trondhjem torv a farmers' market, Bondens marked is being held every second week on Saturday. Local small scale farmers sell their produce, but it takes a little effort to find the organic ones.

When it comes to conventional supermarkets, a quite impressive range of organically certified food is on offer at the Meny hypermarket Solsiden and the various Coop supermarkets with their Änglamark own brand (see also here). To avoid green-washed products and misleading marketing while cherry-picking through these markets check for the "økologisk" keyword and organic labelling (mainly Debio, KRAV and the European organic label, but you will also find Soil Association and USDA certificates). Dairy products by Røros meieriet, meat products by Grødstad Gris, ice-cream and beer from Reins Kloster, "Helios" and "Manna" products as well as "Go green" grains and pulses are all safe. Some of them can also be found in Sunkost or Life healthfood shops.

Shopping

A few steps from Godt Brødt the Miss Organic perfumery offers the city's biggest selection of natural and organically certified body care and cosmetic products in a styled shopping environment.

For fashionable clothing and yarn made of organic wool take a stroll to Baklandet where you find Nøstebarn. As the name hints babies and toddlers were the original focus, but the product range has extended since to cater for adults, too, and not only for those who enjoy knitting. So here's the place to look for woollen underwear and other accessories for the Nordic winter.

Where to stay

The hotels of the Choice chain advertise with organic breakfast items and are certified with the Debio label in bronce which is awarded to food places offering at minimum 15 percent organic items. In the case of the otherwise boring conference hotel Augustin at the corner of Kongens and Prinsens Gate this allowed for an organic breakfast consisting of apple juice, crispy oat-cerials with a tasty type of sourmilk ("tjukkmjølk") or low-fat milk from Røros meieriet, alternatively soy milk, crispbread with honey, peanut butter, brie and a blue-mould cheese as well as hard-boiled eggs a few years ago. On a recent stay at Comfort Hotel Park at the corner of Prinsens gate and Bispegata the 15 percent mixture consisted of all organic coffee and fat-free cow milk (but conventional oat and soy milk), organic Earl Grey tea, dark rye bread and one type of crisp bread, a good selection of organic cerials, raisins, apples, orange marmelade, peanut butter, honey, and boiled eggs. The Park hotel bar's fridge next to the entrance offered organic lemonade and cola (of the "Oskar Sylte" brand) as well as canned organic iced coffee mixes.

Unfortunately the city's hotel institution Britannia in Dronningens Gate, once a certified eco lighthouse is closed for renovation until minimum spring 2018. During my last stay a few years ago they offered a small selection of organic veges and bread at the breakfast buffet, and I'm confident that they will do even better after reopening.

Just a few steps west, crossing Nordre and Jomfrugate you will find Hotel City Living Schøller a budget option which was recommended to me by Alicia from Portland, Oregon after reading this blog. She described her room as having "zero perfume -- none on the sheets nor in the cleansers. The room felt fresh and healthy, if quite simple." The hotel provides guests with a 15 percent discount at nearby Godt Brød bakery cum cafe for breakfast, and offers a kitchen for guest use.

At the airport

If you happen to strand at Trondheim Airport Værnes spend your airline food vouchers at Caffè Ritazza between gate 31 and 32 (behind security) which uses organic full-fat milk for their coffee drinks. They also offer a selection of fair-trade (though not organic) chocolates.

Permanently or temporarily closed

The following places are closed, with references remaining on the web, or ceased to offer organic items:

2018-03-26 22:40:03 [Trondheim, organic, fair, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, bakeries, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, takeaway, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, dinner, hotel, accommodation, pizza, fashion, airports] 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.

Monday, 08 January 2018

Hamburg: Fair and organic Hafencity

An inner-city district to be developed from scratch is the most exciting thing in the life of city planners, and Hamburg's Hafencity with its recently opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall is Europe's biggest inner-city development in modern times. When finished it will consist of ten often quite different neighbourhoods, with many sustainability aspects considered. If you have the time take part in one of the guided tours (free of charge) or pay a visit to the Sustainability Pavillion Osaka 9. The latter houses a small fair-trade cafe bar dubbed Die kleine Elbfaire where you can have a coffee or soft drink and buy pre-packaged fairly traded sweets.

Elbfaire

With its name drawing from the similarity of the words "fair" and "Fähre" ("ferry") the little coffee bar is a spin-off of Elbfaire, a fair-trade lunch cafe and meeting place with a pleasant backyard run by the ecumenical association of 17 Hamburg-based churches. On weekdays you can come here for an organic vegetarian lunch between 12 am and 14:30 pm, or step by for a fairly traded organic coffee drink together with home-made organic cakes.

Another organic lunch option is the self-service day cafe of the nearby Alnatura supermarket.

Not organic

When looking for healthy organic food in the Hafencity you may be guided to Greenlovers, a lunch restaurant serving soups, stews, bowls and salads using predominantly locally sourced ingredients. Unfortunately the promising name is misleading since the place does not have an organic agenda. However, I was assured that tofu and eggs always were organic, and if you dare to ask you may occasionally find one or another organic vegetable used in the dishes. There's a second branch near the townhall with longer opening hours, keeping open Monday through Saturday until 7 pm.

2018-01-08 12:30:00 [Hamburg, Hafencity, organic, fair, vegetarian, eatery, cafe, lunch, supermarkets, coffee] Link

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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Organic Steinkjer

Norwegian smalltowns can be a frustrating experience for those used to organic food, hunting-gathering the nation-wide chains as described here. What a surprise when I spent the time waiting for a bus in Steinkjer with a stroll through the town's main street, Kongens gate. Five minutes from the train station you'll find Grønn bølge ("Green Wave"), a small friendly organic convenience store cum day cafe where you not only can buy daily supplies (surprisingly much of it from local producers, including a small selection of fresh seasonal fruit and veges) but also have a smoothie, plain coffee, home-made cookie or seasonal soup. Until 2016 the shop was located in a side street a few steps away.

For a more substantial meal in the afternoon or evening simply cross the street. Here you'll find Ox Steak House, where you can have grilled or cured beef, burgers (with home-made buns), sausages, and more from free-ranging highland cattle from a small-scale farm about 15 kilometers north-west. The animals are allowed to keep their horns, but neither the farm nor the restaurant is certified organic. The place was however recommended to me by another local farmer in the course of an exchange on free-range and organic farming. You can also order food to take away.

To dine in style at a decidedly committed organic farm you'll have to book in advance and take a taxi 12 kilometers out of town to Bjerkem organic farm and cultural heritage centre. Since September 2017 the farm has been playing host to the new organic gourmet restaurant of acclaimed Norwegian (formerly London-based) chef Kim Tore Sjøbakk, the Experience. The tasting menu consisting of 14 courses comes at 1250 NOK per person, together with matching wine and drinks at 2250 NOK. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to dine there yet, so let me know about your experience.

Closed

2017-12-30 14:00:05 [Steinkjer, organic, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, restaurant, burgers, fastfood] 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.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Organic Namsos

For those of us living in big Western cities and metropolises and used to a stable supply with eco-conscious products small Norwegian towns like Namsos in Northern Trøndelag come as a shock: In this rich country with lots of well-educated people the individual has to take a big extra effort to source organic food and eco-conscious household products. It's not only about to know where to go, no -- you may simply not be able to find staples in organic quality. Planning ahead often is no option since you cannot rely on supermarkets to have organic sugar or cream all the time, flavoured yoghurt, gomme (traditional Norwegian dairy spread), durum pasta and ice-cream once where available, but no longer, yeast or mushrooms (to name a few) have never been seen here. Creativity is key: Shop what's available and hack your meals according to what is on offer.

There's no support for the zero waste approach, in fact the big chains usually sell organic vegetables and fruit pre-packaged in plastic foil to avoid accidental mixing with the larger conventional batches.

Forget completely about eating out -- in a town like Namsos which has dozens of branches of the cheaper supermarket chains, but not even a single branch of more upmarket chains like Meny (which was closed about eight years ago) or Coop Mega (which was converted into an inferior Coop Extra at about the same time) the general inhabitants' priorities obviously do not include quality food. (The region's organic farm-to-table delivery service, Økomat Innherred, stopped serving Namsos at about the same time owing lack of demand.)

Food and staples

The good news is that even Namsos is not completely ignorant of a certain trend towards a more sustainable lifestyle, and, to my surprise, after years of stagnation, I have been observing an improvement since 2016. By now there's a steady supply of organic apples, oranges, lemons, bananas, eggs, milk, wheat flour, whole-meal pasta, butter and oil, fresh herbs and a basic assortment of dried herbs and spices, tomatoes (both fresh and canned chopped), onion, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, salad, tortillas, ketchup, coffee, tea, chocolates, muesli, apple juice, kefir and sour-cream ("rømme"), cheese, crispbread, sesame and sunflower seeds, preserved olives, canned corn, peanut butter and chocolate spread, honey, baby food and usually also bread, potatoes, rocket in summer, and cauliflower (I may have forgotten some items). Hence vegetarians are quite reasonably catered for, and this is a vast improvement compared with the situation only two to three years ago.

Omnivores have a harder life: You may be so fortunate to find "Gilde økologisk spekepølse", a cured meat speciality similar to a salami, and if you scan pre-packaged meat products (both frozen and fresh) you may find minced meat, sometimes even beef cuts and before X-mas pinnekjøtt. In general scan carefully for the "økologisk" keyword and all organic labels you know of, especially the Debio label, the European one and the Swedish KRAV. You may be surprised to find a new type of cheese, pre-backed rolls or even Norwegian beer.

Coop Extra Bygg Spillum To keep frustration as low as possible shop from the Coop supermarkets -- the Coop Extra Verftsgata within the Storsenter mall and the Coop Extra Bygg in Spillum offer most organic options and often complement each other. All products of the Änglamark own brand as well as all dairy products from Røros meieriet are organic. Veges are often advertised as the Aroma variety, but to be sure check for organic labels. The branch on Verftsgata has had a stronger organic focus during the past years and still offers a better selection of veges, among them pears, fresh ginger and garlic, and sometimes even of non-mainstream varieties. But the bigger Spillum branch has kept up: They even showcased a surprisingly good selection of organic lemonades and light beer from Reins Kloster for the holiday season 2016/17, proudly sporting hand-written organic labels. By now organic fruit and veges have their own sales area, so it's been easier to find them. The Spillum branch has been offering organic parmesan cheese, frozen bread rolls, plain yoghurt and even organic cream since -- products I've never seen in town before. Still, there are quite a few product categories which are impossible to find in organic quality, among them Norwegian staples like sauerkraut, frozen pizza and (!) Italian-style pasta made from durum wheat.

For ice-cream stop by the (otherwise inferior but late-evening open) Rema 1000 supermarket opposite the Rock City cinema: The chain recently invested in Kolonihagen, a 100% organic delivery service, allowing them to develop and extend their own brand. Some of these products (like ice-cream and orange jam) can be found in Namsos as well.

To supplement baking ingredients, dried fruit, tea and sweets head for the small Life healthfood store within the Storsenter complex -- just follow the indoors aisle starting at the Coop branch and head for the second shop to the left. They offer a decent range of products of the Helios brand of organic and biodynamic quality and are the most reliable and exhaustive source of organic tea and tisane bags in town.

Organic wine and stronger beer can be sourced from the town's Vinmonopolet also located in the Storsenter mall -- they usually have a small selection of organic items in stock, but you're required to order more fancy stuff in advance.

If you happen to be in town on the few occasions a farmers' market (Bondens marked) is being held or during the annual Kulturmartna fair on the premises of Namdalsmuseet in August shop for organic cured meat smoked in the sauna of Brattlia farm in Namdalseid. If you call in advance you may also pay a visit to the farm itself and buy their products directly (leave the bus from Steinkjer to Namsos at Lyngen stop and follow the signs.) On both market occasions one or two other local organic small scale farmers will sell their produce.

The best source for smoked or fermented wild salmon as well as fermented char or trout ("rakfisk") and dried wild fish is the town's only real butcher cum delicatessen, Aakervik. On a few occasions they also stock organic meat, and they are a reliable source of Norwegian lamb chops: Even though usually not organically certified most Norwegian sheep spend their lifetime roaming in the mountains, feeding on what the countryside has to offer, and thus, a stress-free death provided, can be taken for almost organic.

In general a huge amount of the country's organically produced milk and meat is being sold undercover as conventional food. Where, you might ask, go all the Norwegian organic hens at the end of their lives as producers of organic eggs? As of today organic Norwegian chicken meat products have been unseen of in the country's supermarkets. While the countries largest dairy distributor, Tine, seems to give up its long-time opposition against organic products, egg distributor Prior and meat distributor Gilde often are not interested in marketing their products as organic claiming that consumers would refuse to buy them as they would be perceived as overprized.

Household and body care

Detergents and toiletries of Coop's Änglamark brand meet the requirements of the Nordic Ecolabel and are your best choice for household detergents usually free from artificial colourings and perfumes. Unfortunately this label, to name a few disadvantages, allows aggressive tensides such as SLS and SLES and does not require all natural or even organic ingredients.

For superior natural skin care or even organically certified body care products you have the following options: The Life healthfood shop stocks a basic selection of creams, lotions, soaps, toothpastes and hair care products. In addition the town's only natural care hairdresser's cum beauty parlour Art of Nature in the centre of town will sell organic hair and skin care to passers-by. You will also find a very limited selection of natural body care at Namsos Bandasje opposite Storsenter. There's no supplier of natural or even organic decorative cosmetic products in town.

Fashion

Fashionistas should keep clear of Namsos, but the local H&M branches at Storsenter offer a reasonable selection of fast fashion items made from organic and sustainable materials. Look out for the "H&M conscious" brand with their green labels.

2017-12-25 13:00:30 [Namsos, organic, wine, supermarkets, grocery, market, fashion] Link

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Monday, 30 October 2017

Hamburg: Organic Altona and Ottensen

Leaving the train at Altona station does not bring you to the heart of the city but to the vibrant neighbourhoods of Altona (to the East) and Ottensen (to the West) offering a great choice of lively (partially) organic places. None of them are very posh as the distinguished bourgeouis citizens usually live and roam elsewhere, and there's a good chance to mingle with locals.

Where to stay

As long as you are satisfied with a basic yet clean and well-kept hotel room head for the Schanzenstern. The name derives from its original location in the Sternschanze neighbourhood, but even though the hostel moved to its current location surely ten years ago references to its old address haven't vanished from the net completely. Most rooms are equipped with bunk beds, and you are well advised to book in advance especially if not travelling alone. The entire building is painted in clear basic colors, orange and blue the rooms, yellow the hallway. Since rain water is used for flushing the toilets its colour can be explained easily, and the soap dispensers in the bathroom are filled with liquid organic hand wash. If you're travelling by bicycle there's a locked shed where you can store it safely overnight.

The hostel's 100% organic breakfast buffet keeps open daily from 7:30 to 10:30, but is not included in the price for the night. For 8 additional Euro you can order it until late on the evening before. The restaurant also serves organic lunch on weekdays, and there are board games and journals to spend the time with.

Zeit für Brot

Bakeries

Breakfast and lunch alternatives are located within five-minutes walking distance: For one there's the Zeit für Brot ("time for bread") artisanal show bakery next to a branch of the Denn’s organic supermarket chain in Ottenser Hauptstraße. Through a window you can watch the bakers at work, and buy German bread fresh from the oven. If stepping by for a coffee or another non-alcoholic drink, a pastry, cake, savoury snack, or a light lunch (all organic) queue with the other customers and place your order at the till. Find a place at one of the tables inside or -- during the warm season -- outside under a sunshade also sheltering from the occasional rain shower and enjoy the gorgeous smell of real bread together with your snack.

Cafes and lunch restaurants

Another organic breakfast alternative is cosy cafe Lillisu offering 100% organic food and drinks. In addition to breakfast the women owners also serve sandwiches, filled pasta, spaghetti, soup and salads for lunch, both vegetarian and omnivore, prepared in the tiny kitchen in view of their guests. Place your order at the counter and add a home-made cake from the display. You'll be served but are expected to return to the counter for payment. Set breakfast plates are served on weekends only. Decorated in pastel colours this is also the place to buy nostalgic presents and some organic delicatessen (chocolates, olive oil, coffee, ...) as well as "Glück in Gläsern" ("happiness in jars"), (in)famous 100% non-organic nostalgic sweets many Germans will remember from their childhood, sold by the piece. As in the Schanzenstern restaurant a selection of magazines from Hamburg-based publishers are there to be read by the guests.

If your budget calls for a cheap lunch you may head for the uninspiring self-service restaurant on the first floor of the IKEA branch in Altona. On their website they do not announce organic food, but when I was there they offered two organically certified pasta dishes. If they do not have an organic dish when you visit or you would like to have an organic drink afterwards just walk a few steps in Eastern direction where you find yet another Denn's supermarket branch which also serves snacks at their self-service cafe.

Ice-cream

For a sweet threat head back to Altona train station (where you by the way will find another organic supermarket, this time an Alnatura branch). Since 1913 there has been an Italian ice-cream parlour in Ottenser Hauptstaße, which, after world war II became Eiscafe Venezia. Today, the owners are no longer of Italian origin, but use organic milk for all of their about 20 flavours. Unfortunately the ice-cream isn't fully organic itself; the scoop goes for 1.20 EUR. Usually the cafe closes at midnight, but you may find it closing earlier on bad weather.

More to try

Here's another organic cafe and a bakery I found during my research but did not have time to visit. I'll be happy if you'd share your impressions with me!

Closed

The following places do no longer exist although you might find them referenced on the web:

2017-10-30 10:00:02 [Hamburg, Altona, Ottensen, organic, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, lunch, breakfast, cafe, hotel, accommodation, bakeries] 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.