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Sunbeams - Organically Brussels

Organically Brussels

Written by Sarah P
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Fruit stand at the Saint-Gilles open-air market Fruit stand at the Saint-Gilles open-air market the-tml on flickr!

As a foreigner coming to Belgium, one of the first ‘checks’ I needed to make on my expat list was finding organic grocers and restaurants in Brussels. In my search, I discovered that Belgium has whole-heartedly embraced the au naturel food movement and has a well-established organic scene. Not only is Belgium one of the strictest European countries when it comes to monitoring the production of organic food, but it also has an abundance of delightful little restaurants and markets hidden all over its capital city, just waiting to serve you!

Whether you want to cook at home or dine out, Brussels offers many solutions for the organic foodie. To keep a well-stocked kitchen, you can simply go to your local supermarket chain and seek out the bio options. Be sure to look for either the Biogarantie or the EU Ecolabel (which are two of the standards guaranteeing a genuine organic product) to be certain you are buying chemical-free, environmentally-friendly produce.

If you’re looking to go local, Brussels is awash with neighborhood grocers and specialty stores. Some are duds, but many sell quality ingredients, both locally-sourced and organic. Den Teepot is an excellent choice with a selection of beers, wines, cheeses, cereals and vegetables. Further outside of Brussels city-center is the Sequoia, an organic store, laid out like a supermarket (think of this as the compromise between the outdoor market and commercial grocery store: simple and convenient to shop in but with a distinct connoisseur feel). The Sequoia also has one of the best organic wine cellars in the country (read more here).

If markets suit your style more, Brussels is the place to be. On Mondays, at Le Miroir, Jette, regional farm produce is for sale. At Place Van Meenen, from 12:30- 19:00, organic fruit and veggies are also available. Wednesdays are plentiful, with organic markets open at Place Chatelain (14:00-19:00), Place de la Monnaie (9:00-14:00) and again Le Miroir, Jette. See here for a more comprehensive list. You can also check the magazine The Bulletin for up-to-date information on seasonal markets and good finds.

If you would rather close your kitchen and indulge in a nice dinner out, Brussels also offers some delicious organic venues. There are two certified, completely organic restaurants in Brussels, where everything down to the salt is natural. The restaurants are south of city center: Trop Bon, in Place Flagey (Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050) and La Saga in Etterbeek (Avenue de la Chevalerie 9, 1040). Both are worth a visit.

There are also many restaurants which specialize in predominantly au naturel meals and which offer good options for those of you looking to eat something that isn’t chemically-doctored. Soul, located at Petit Sablon, is a vegan-friendly, vegetarian-serving, organic-loving restaurant that has a good reputation and which offers affordable prices (Rue de la Samaritaine, 201000 Bruxelles).

For a full list of organic restaurants and shops see here.

If you’re short on time, Quick Burger isn’t the only option. Exki and Le Pain Quotidien, both of which offer many yummy organic dishes, are fast, convenient and generally well-priced. Both restaurants are originally from Brussels, so you’ll be happy to know you’re still supporting local ideas.

Eating organically and locally is not just about eating healthy. It is also about re-establishing a synergy with the environment and the food it provides us. Knowing where our food comes from, what nutrients they contain and what chemicals they don’t, and how that contributes to our overall health is a crucial part of a healthy living experience. Taking the time to find organic food and meeting the people who serve, sell or produce them is not only fun but also pivotal to being aware of what we are putting in our bodies and how it shapes our health.

Enjoy eating your way organically through the city!

This article was originally published in the June 2011 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

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