Have you heard of "Marktschwärmer"? No? Well, I think it's getting time that you do! If you'd like to shop part of your groceries in a regional, eco-friendly online and flexible way directly from the producer, you might want to look into this. This article is part of the series on ecological nutrition. Thus, it contains advertising for Marktschwärmer, which I would like to mark as such.
Roxi and I learned about Marktschwärmer together last summer, when we were still living together. Back then, we tried our way through the rich summer assortment and ordered and tested different fruit, veggies, bread, pastries, dairy, liquor, mustard and meats (the latter only me). Our verdict was very good and I am still ordering products of the season approximately every other week to pick them up Thursdays a couple of blocks from where I live.
So what is Marktschwärmer?
Marktschwärmer is a Social Startup, which was founded in 2011 in France. It is organized into several groups, so-called Schwärmereien. This is a German pun which I can try to translate: Schwarm has two meanings, one is swarm as in swarm of bees, the other is heartthrob, someone you fall for. A Schwärmerei is a rhapsody, a Schwärmer a enthusiast. Each Schwärmerei organizes farmers' markets using an online platform where you can place and pay your order in advance. The groceries can be picked up once a week at the pick-up point but it is also possible to have the products delivered home for an additional fee.
On the website of Marktschwärmer you can search for a Schwärmerei closeby. In Leipzig, there are three: One in the East, one in the South and another one in the West which is currently getting started. Picking one Schwärmerei, it is possible to join and start ordering products. In our group, the pick up is on Thursdays, so it's usually possible to order from Friday or Saturday up to Tuesday evening.
On market day I bike there with a large saddlebag and several other fabric and plastic bags to the location where the market happens. Per mail I got an order number, but at the market the host always makes sure that everybody get their ordered food. They normally have a list with all costumers so no worries here. The bags I carry with me to avoid unnecessary trash. Usually that worksvery well.
What can you order from Marktschwärmer?
This questions has no general answer - it depends (a) on the Schwärmerei and the participating plants and (b) of course the season! At the moment (June) the Leipziger Schwärmerei offer a lot nice varied veggies (salad, fennel, herbs, spring potatoes, kohlrabi and mangold). Fruit-wise it is only apples, but these are bought from different places this time of the year. They also have different milk products from cows, goats and buffaloes, moreover they have eggs and processed food, such as ice cream and egg salad. Meat and sausages of chicken, (wolley) pig, cow, lamm and buffalo, everything from the region. In the category "bakery and pastry" you can find buns, bread, cakes, cookies and something special as vegane fudge, which we enjoyed during our coffee breaks. Besides you can find gourmet food, oil, herbs and beverages These products are normally quite expensive.
Altogether buying from Marktschwärmer is not the cheapest way of grocery shopping. But nobody is forced to buy everything via them. I like to support local farmers with a small to medium amount of money and get a couple products of very high quality. The "left-over" groceries I buy somewhere else. Compared to a organic store, where the same products are sold, the prices are similar. Other products, such as the liver sausage from wolley pig or goat milk cream cheese, you cannot buy anywhere else - at least I didn't find them. For these products it is worth spending a little more money and be rewarded with something special on the table once in a while. We buy them when we have guests or when we visit friends to bring a little present.
A really cool thing is the fact that Marktschwärmer is not just present in German cities, but it is a European organization. You can find Marktschwärmereien in France, Italy, Netherlands and the Swiss. It is possible to enter up to three Marktschwärmereien, hence before going on the next trip you could also check out whether there is a one close by. It's a wonderful way of trying local products.
Me, Roxi, I was on a hiking trip to France with a friend last summer, and we checked out the Marktschwärmerei one village further. In the Marktschwärmerei there, they offered completely different products than in Leipzig. It was August. So, durinsg the week in which we had the chance, we went online and checked out the product range. We got the best sun-ripened veggies. With the offered wine we weren't so sure and couldn't decide, but since we were in Alsace, we went directly to the wine yards. The veggies were amazing, however! Real fun was to get to the Marktschwärmerei, then talk to the organizators in bad school French and pick up the veggies. We got some amazing advice where to spend our vacation, which wine to try, which hiking trails are the best. One of the women organizing the market asked for tips about Germany and Leipzig, because she planned a trip to Germany and connect to Marktschwärmers and help them to build up there.