How to Find Sustainable Groceries

Local, organic, seasonal… it is not that easy to keep track of everything when buying groceries. How do I recognize sustainable groceries? What is behind organic products? What counts as local? Here a few tips, how you can recognize „good“ products from the „bad“ ones.

It is not always that easy to find sustainable products at the supermarket.

Grocery Shopping 101

First of all, it is important to understand the differences in branding. Once you have understood those, it is a bit easier.

local: These are products that come from the region and are produced in the current season. CO2-Emissions are minimized, due to shorter transport routes and also, this way you support the farmer next door and secure valuable jobs in your area. But: as there is now official definition of regional, how far of a distance still counts as regional, the term is a bit vague.

Brot Genießerhotel am Weissensee
Organic, local, seasonal – it can get confusing sometimes.

organic: With organic products, it is more difficult. Here, it can be deceptive, too. It is a matter of interpretation, if animals are treated better, because there are also different standards. For example, there are organic farms, where male chicks also come into a shredder.

Furthermore, organic products often have a longer access route, as organic does not equally mean local. There are also many kinds of fruit that are marked as organic in the supermarket, but come from New Zealand and take on a long trip to Germany.

seasonal: Seasonal means that the product is in season. But again, it is a vague term, because a seasonal product does not necessarily have to be local. As strawberries in December in Germany are as seasonal, as the easter bunny at Christmas.

Take a closer look on for example where the tomatoes come from.

How to recognize sustainable groceries

Now you ask yourself: how do I recognize sustainable groceries? In general, your best bet is to choose local products. Ideally, you buy your groceries directly from the producer at the weekly market – why not combine your visit with a stroll or a bike to and make it a real sustainable experience!

But as this is not always that easy – simply take a close look onto the label, where the product you are holding in your hand is from. In Germany, it is required by law that the production country is stated on the label. And always choose a local product (or the one from a neighboring country, instead of the one for e.g. from South America).

At the farmer around the corner, you can find out how he holds his livestock.

When choosing meat, if it is important to you that the animals had a happy life, then it is best to find a farmer in your area, from whom you know exactly (or can find out) how he holds his livestock. Of course, it also helps to reduce your meat consumption and instead of eating lots of meat, eat meat more consciously and then buy „good“ meat.

Little Helpers

There are also little helpers that help you with choosing the right groceries. A seasonal calendar for example lists, which kinds of salad, fruit and vegetable are seasonal in Germany at which time. There is even an app for that!

With CodeCheck you can scan the product in their app you are holding in your hand and it shows you immediately, which ingredients it has and how the product is rated overall. There are more than groceries listed, by the way!

Essen Genießerhotel
Eating consciously is also an important factor in the green lifestyle.

Enjoy Food Consciously

The last tip that I want to give you along your way goes a little bit past the supermarket. Enjoy your food, be aware what products are on your plate. I am not saying that you should skip a specific product overall, I just recommend you to enjoy food consciously.

While traveling, also choose destinations that share this philosophy. Culinary art is also an important criteria in our Green Pearls requirement profile for our members. Thus, there are many who have the concept „from farm to table“, where products are produced on or near the hotel grounds and are used in the in-house restaurant.

Green Pearls members integrate the concept “from farm to table” in their accommodations.

For example, Hotel Milano Scala in Milan has a vegetable garden on the rooftop, the Peruvian hotel group INKATERRA has firmly established local food in their concept and Genießer-Landhotel Die Forelle with owner Hannes Müller belongs to the Jeunes Restaurateurs D’Europe – an association of young restaurant owners, who exercise innovative and inventive culinary art like no-one else in the field.

All in all, it is simply important to double check the individual products, before adding them to your shopping cart. With these tips, you can now find sustainable groceries – happy shopping, and most of all: happy cooking!