Saturday, 25 November 2023
For (re-)filling your kitchen cupboard and shop for un(pre)packaged food head straight to the northern shore of the Neckar river, to the Neuenheimer Markt market place. On Wednesday mornings (until 1 pm) a farmer's market is held here, but a few steps
you will also find the city's only package-free supermarket dubbed Annas Unverpacktes ("Anna's unwrapped goods") which with its outer wall made of turquoise tiles looks like a converted butcher's shop from the outside. As all zero waste convenience stores I've come across so far it's strictly vegetarian, but omnivores simply walk outside and turn left to find an artisanal butcher's shop at the next corner.
Until some years ago the Metzgerei Blatt was working according to the Neuland principles of animal welfare in meat production which are close to, but not fully organic, and in 2015 turned to fully organic principles. The shop was closed when I went there (as it's generally closed on Wednesday afternoons), but the owner assured me that the staff would fill my purchase into my own clean boxes as long as they were intended for personal consumation (instead of catering a bigger crowd). Ready-to-eat meat dishes are also available to take away.
Directly opposite the Neuenburger Markt there's also a shop of the local wholefood bakery Mahlzahn named after the dragon in Michael Ende's famous children's novel "Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver". Here the shop assistants will happily put your bread, rolls, sweet and savoury pastries into the bags or containers you present.
The bakery workshop itself is located in the Weststadt neighbourhood where you also can buy a small selection of loose-weight seasonal fruit and veges and assorted pre-packaged organic food items to supplement your breakfast, lunch or coffee table. When I went there in hope for an early organic breakfast it however turned out that this bakery doesn't follow the zeitgeist to serve coffee and snacks to eat on the spot everywhere -- no coffee machine here, no bar tables. (The rolls were delicious nevertheless.)
Mind you that this bakery does not use white flour at all.
Altogether there are four Mahlzahn shops, all with identical opening hours, the third one located in the neighbourhood of Rohrbach, and the fourth in Handschuhsheim (literally: "glove's home").
To buy all items for a zero waste breakfast at one stop head for the city's branch of the Denn's organic supermarket chain: The staff at its meat, dairy and bakery counters offers to fill cheese, cured meat products, sausages and bakery items into your containers. If you buy a coffee drink on the go in your own cup you'll receive a 30 cents discount, and you can also buy lunch to take away in your own jars instead of having it at the self-service bistro.
The other nationwide operating organic supermarket brand, Alnatura, operates three branches in town. They do not have a dedicated focus on zero waste, but there's a slowly increasing assortment of food in returnable glasses (e.g. mayonnaise, "canned" corn and other preserves, or vegetable spread) apart from unpackaged fruits, vegetables, and bakery produce. Unfortunately you must be familiar with the glass types to find them, and they are always among the most expensive options.
If you prefer independent shops the two Fair & Quer supermarkets in the neighbourhoods of Handschuhsheim and Wieblingen are worth a try.
Unfortunately I did not have the chance to visit them (as advised by my Mastodonbubble), so I cannot say whether their waste and package reduction measures exceed those of comparable dedicated organic supermarkets in Germany.
The shop in Wieblingen offers organic lunch Monday through Friday from noon to 2pm.
I wasn't much surprised to hear from my Mastodon bubble about zero-waste and repair initiatives run by the university's students' parliament. Unfortunately I have not had the time to visit the campus, but I happily list them here: The self-service bike repair shop Urrmel and the package-free organic food co-operative Appel un' Ei. The latter is located between "Chez Pierre" and "Café Botanik" at the university's main refectory and is regularly offering lunch made with produce from a communal market garden.
More to try
Here are a few more shops which I found during my research but didn't manage to visit myself:
You may still find references to the following organic grocery on the web, but be assured it's no longer there:
[Heidelberg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, butcher, lunch, snacks, coffee, bodycare, household]
Monday, 20 November 2023
The bigger conventional supermarkets seem to have at least a small selection of organic dry food, often conveniently assembled in a dedicated and marked shelf. But while obtaining a package of organic biscuits and tea bags is easy, you may wander a long way without spotting any opportunity to buy fresh fruits and veges, leave alone dairy products.
The first solution which may come to a traveller's mind is the upmarket department store of Sunday-open El Corte Ingles at São Sebastião tube stop. And indeed: In the middle of its food court there's a small organic shop-in-shop area with a separate fridge and a fresh fruits and vegetable section. Here I found the most expensive bottle of UHT milk I've seen so far, at a price tag of about 3.65 euros (fresh organic milk seems to be completely unavailable in Lisbon). Needless to say that the selection of dry food is very upmarket, including organic advent calendars before the Christmas season, so you will easily find a consumable gift, while you may breathe in deeply for the price tag of everyday food.
Good to know: There's a row of gravity bins from which you can fill unpackaged grains and nuts into your own containers, and the uncooled fruits and veges also come without packaging.
A small selection of shelled nuts as well as extremely tasty olives can be bought by the gram from Pigmeu da Ribeira, an upmarket delicatessen stall located in the central aisle between TimeOut and the traditional market at Mercado da Ribeira. Their main business is to offer a snack of cured meats, cheeses and olives from small-scale organic farms or a sandwich together with a glass of wine, everything extremely tasty and a pleasant alternative to much of the heavy food served in town.
But you can also buy bottles of natural wines, vacuum-packaged cured meat and cheeses, a small selection of preserves and seeds of flowers and vegetables. Everything here is organic, many products even biodynamic, but the price tag is quite heavy: The average bottle of wine goes between 20 and 30 euros, while the wage slip of the shop assistants remains at 800 to 900 euros a month for eight hours shifts.
From one of the people working here I got the crucial information that there is a small chain of 100 percent organic supermarkets in and around Lisbon: Miosotis. One of their branches is only a few steps away from El Corte Ingles, and it is huge.
The bakery booth, the fruits and vegetables section and a decent row of gravity bins with dry food support a zero-waste lifestyle. Whether you need body care products of household chemicals, want to buy a bottle of organic port wine, or seasonal sweets, this is the first address to go. They simply have everything organic you need – except for fresh milk.
As its counterparts in much of central Europe the supermarket has a self-serviced cafe cum restaurant offering lunch and snacks. It's however closed in the evening.
If you prefer small crammed health food shops, the Bomercado near Largo do Terreirinho (a mini tram stop of number 12E in the old town) may be for you. Given the size of the shop, the selection of fresh produce is limited, and there are probably more imported products from German organic producers than from Portuguese ones, but you will find both, sufficient food and body care to survive.
Clothes and textiles
Zero waste is not only about the packaging of products to consumate, but also about re-using and up-cycling of long-living goods such as clothes. When I walked the streets of São Antonio/Misericordia I noticed a shop window presenting linen shirts which at once left the impression of being both, comfortable and long-living. I came back to Stró the other day to discover that there was more to it: beautiful caps, scarfs and pillow cushions made from natural fibers only, linen, wool, and cosy cotton jersey. For the scarfs, caps and home textiles traditional re-used fabrics and fibres as well as vintage dead stock fabrics made in Portugal
are being used.
Given the quality and longevity of these products made by small-scale producers in inner Portugal, they are very reasonably prized, even cheap if you're going to use them for a decade or longer.
There's a second Stró shop almost around the corner, and if you should be unlucky enough to arrive at one of the shops during lunch break, head for its sister shop as their breaks are not overlapping.
[Lisbon, Lisboa, Lissabon, organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, deli, market, breakfast, lunch, coffee, snacks, bodycare, household, fashion]
Sunday, 05 November 2023
While buying organic requires only a little extra effort in Salzburg, minimising 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. The covid-19 pandemics marked the beginning as well as the end of the (to my knowledge) only dedicated organic pay-by-weight grocery, GenussProGramm (a pun which can be translated as both, "pleasure by the gram" or "pleasure program") in the neighbourhood of Andräviertel.
So what's left? As in other cities farmers' markets are a good bet: The Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace offers to fill Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen into your jars, provided you ask for it. Although the market at Grünmarkt is held daily, there are no organic boothes on Mondays and Thursdays; the Medousa booth is here on Saturdays only. On Thursday mornings you can find it at the Schrannenmarkt opposite Mirabell castle.
At the Schrannenmarkt you'll also find the market booth of the
Ökoprodukte Feldinger organic farm which in the past used to run a fully organic supermarket in town. The booth is located next to Ändra church.
Offsite tourist tracks but on your way to Hellbrunn castle or zoo you'll find what until spring 2023 was Salzburg's only branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic.
Prior to its insolvency this organic retailer had a focus on reducing one-way packaging. While
the German Basic supermarkets were bought by the conventional tegut chain, the two Austrian branches
(the second one is located in Vienna) will continue as fully organic supermarkets of the Dennree chain.
However, I do not know whether gravity bins with dry food survived here as Denn's
has never had a focus on refill. As in most organic supermarkets fruits and veges usually are not pre-packaged, and serviced desks for bakery and dairy products allow you to take home products in your own boxes. There's also a slowly increasing range of products in returnable jars and bottles, but unfortunately these are usually more expensive than their counterparts in one-way packaging.
To refill milk around the clock head for the milk vending machine at the Erentrudishof organic 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 spot them.
The most stylish one of them is the Salzburg branch of
Joseph Brot vom Pheinsten with its open baker's workshop a few steps away from the Mönchsberg elevator. Apart from deliciously smelling bread, rolls, cakes and snacks there's a small selection of dairy products, jams and preserves. You can also order organic (coffee) drinks and sit down on a table to have a snack or enjoy their patisserie. The bakery keeps open on Sunday mornings and public holidays.
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: Three 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. On Thursdays you can find it at the Schranne Biomarkt.
Zero waste starts with the food, but does not end there: In order to reduce the amount of plastics ending up as microplastic in our environment and finally in ourselves it's crucial to reduce the use of the (undoubtedly useful) polymers in general: Don't throw them all away at once (as the biggest part of the carbon footprint of goods is in their production), but replace your plastic household items or clothes with plastic-free alternatives as soon as they are about to degrade.
In Salzburg there's a store to help you with that:
Damn Plastic in the Europapark mall in Taxham offers almost the entire range of plastic-free (or recycled) non-food, for inspiration
or replacement. Unfortunately their original shop in the inner city does no longer exist.
[Salzburg, Vienna, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, bakeries, deli, market, breakfast, coffee, snacks, farms, fashion, bodycare, household]
Wednesday, 25 October 2023
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, drink and sleep
Since the Findus cafe and restaurant re-invented itself as an organic bakery during the covid-19 pandemics and staff shortage has been prevailing there was a period of time during which it was impossible to find a place to have (predominantly) organic dinner.
Fortunately this has changed Tuesday through Saturday as the restaurant of the sustainable Hotel Bremerhaven, the Übersee, is offering coffee, dinner and a drink in style with a view at the marina again. If you ever wanted to taste the sailor's one-pot dish of lobscouse, this is your chance (to make sure that the corned beef used that very day is organic ask whether it comes from the "Hof Icken" farm, a regular supplier to the restaurant). While omnivores may have the pleasure of feasting on a small selection of dishes typical for the region, vegetarians and vegans are catered for with salad, curry, pasta and/or risotto – and a regional soup.
The bar menu offers organic options for all types of beverages, even spirits: Scan the menu for the "bio" keyword to find them.
The hotel itself takes a lot of efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of your stay, and tries to make sustainable choices for you, including
organic options for breakfast. Unfortunately you have to be a hotel guest to have breakfast here as the bistrot opens to the general public in the afternoon.
For (a late) breakfast, lunch or a very early dinner
take the chance to eat out at the cafe cum restaurant of the Deutsches Auswandererhaus, a museum dedicated to German emigration to the Americas. Referring to the mass catering to emigrants the restaurant is dubbed Speisesaal ("dining hall"), with an interior design hinting at the impersonal and overwhelming feel of refectories without creating an unpleasant atmosphere. During the warm season a spacious outdoor terrace facing the quays of the so-called new port in the Havenwelten area adds a beautiful view to extremely tasty food.
The 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. Staff shortage may occasionally lead to slow service, so enjoy the view and be a little patient.
While the Speisesaal is open to the general public, the self-service restaurants 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.
Before or after the "journey" you can enjoy partially organic and predominantly
vegetarian food (eggs and pasta are promised to be organic), organic orange juice and soft drinks at the restaurant Längengrad.
Fish and seafood carry
MSC certificates, and there are no meat dishes.
Approximately after half the walk through the museum, past the exhibition over the river landscape of Cameroon, you'll find
Cafe südwärts where you can have an organic break with a "Lebensbaum" tea, a "Vivani" chocolate bar or a soft-drink of either, the "Bionade" or the "Voelkel" brand.
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 keeps open only three days a week.
An organic coffee or snack can also be had from 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
The old town of Bremerhaven sports a cosy organic package-free shop, the Glückswinkel. As most dedicated zero waste shops it offers organic and responsibly produced small-scale regional food, sustainable household items and cleaning agents, clothes for babies and toddlers, repair sets, nice gifts and more – but also fresh organic produce of the Findus organic bakery 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 plans to re-open the cafe in 2024, so check on location and/or ask at the Glückswinkel.
[Bremerhaven, Weserradweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, dinner, cafe, restaurant, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, zero_waste, unverpackt, fair, accomodation, hotel]
Thursday, 31 August 2023
When dedicated zero waste convenience stores started to bloom in bigger cities like Munich during 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. 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, and after the pandemic years it's not all sunshine for these small businesses. However, Bremen hasn't seen the same series of zero-waste shop closings cities like Munich have. Even when you run out of food on a Sunday you can grab your jars and boxes and set out for refill.
Dedicated package-free supermarkets
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 would 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. Since 2021 the shop has also been offering organic frozen food by the gram: samosas, falafel, French fries, veges, berries and more.
As you marvelled at the interior you could also buy a coffee or refreshment.
Unfortunately this will be history from around mid of October, 2023: To make ends meet the shop keeper had to find a less expensive location, and the good news is: Anne Marie is moving to the neighbourhood of Walle. The new shop will have another name, but she wouldn't tell me yet. The new shop will be smaller, offering all the food stuff as before, but only a basic set of toiletries and bodycare.
While L'Epicerie was 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 youngest 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. Just from the looks clearly my second favourite which, in 2023, wants to turn into a co-operative. Note that the shop is closed on Wednesdays.
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.
On a former parking lot inside the disused production areal of the Kelloggs company you now find an urban gardening project producing organic veges and hops in raised beds: During the warm season the
Gemuesewerft is not only a nice beergarden, but also sells fresh organic greens according to the season just a few meters from where they are harvested.
Organic corner shops and supermarkets
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 co-operative Oecotop in the Neustadt, the Bio-Eck in Grohn with some gravity bins for unpackaged grains, or the Kornkraft supermarket in Habenhausen which offers a day cafe and 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.
Body care and nice things
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]