Tag Archives: organic

Produce Baskets in Paris

If you’re unable to get to your neighborhood markets during the week or are frustrated with the quality of produce at your grocery store, signing up for a produce basket is an easy, affordable option for getting your weekly fruits and vegetables. A produce basket is an even better option if you’re interested in getting organic, local sourced produce that’s in season.

There are several online companies that offer produce delivery services to the Ile de France, including residents of Paris’s twenty arrondissements. While many companies provide similar products, they differ in the size of baskets offered, price, subscription options, organic versus non-organic, and delivery method. Depending on your needs, you may also decide to go with a company that does more than just fruits and vegetables. A handful of the companies listed below also sell specialty items, just as cheese, meat, and even oysters!

Bio Culture
Green Republic
Le Panier Paysan
Mon Pre Bio
Local Bio Bag
Ze Blue Box
Fruit Bureau
Dans Mon Panier Bio
Tous Primeurs
Les Paniers du Val de Loire
Panier Paysans
Le Campanier

Once you choose the company you’d like to use, signing up online for a weekly basket is quite simple. You select the size and type of basket you’d like (fruits, vegetables, mixed), the duration of your subscription (with options ranging from one time to one year), your delivery method, and finally you pay for your purchase. The companies will bring the basket to your home or office for a fee or you can choose to pick it up from a point relais on a specific day between set hours. The pick-up points are typically small stores, such as a local organic markets or health food boutiques. Most companies have more than one pick-up point in Paris and there’s often at least one per arrondissement. For example, Bio Culture delivers its customers’ baskets to a handful of pick-up points on Monday, different pick-up points on Tuesday, etc. After picking up your basket, all that’s left to do is whip up a delicious meal using the fresh ingredients!

Time constraints on grocery shopping, a desire to eat seasonal food, or a commitment to buy local are just a few of the reasons produce baskets are an appealing option to Paris residents. The vocabulary list below makes it especially easy for Anglophones to navigate the ordering process and take advantage of this alternative shopping opportunity.

Helpful Vocabulary

basket le panier
organic bio
to order commander
fruit le fruit
vegetable le légume
fresh frais, fraiche
mixed mixte
home delivery livraison à domicile
pick up ramasser
pick up point point relais

Organic Food

Curious if the apple you ate for a snack is organic? Not sure how to tell one kiwi apart from the next? Whether you want to become more familiar with the produce aisle at your grocery store or are interested in where your food is coming from, here is some basic information about organic or bio products in France and where you can find them in Paris.

France uses two major labels to designate certified organic food. Organic food is labeled with the European Union’s organic food sticker which became mandatory for pre-packaged food in July 2010. According to information from the European Commission’s organic farming initiative, any food displaying the green and white leaf motif of the EU organic food label meets the following criteria:

1) Contains at least 95% ingredients from organic production methods

2) Complies with the rules of official inspection and certification

3) Comes directly from the producer or preparer in a sealed package

4) Bears the name of the producer, preparer or vendor and the name or code of the certification body

The EU sticker was created to standardize organic food labeling across the 27 member countries, but French organic producers have the option to add the national green and white “Agriculture Biologique (AB)” logo in addition to the EU organic sticker. The “AB” label, first introduced in 1985, meets all of the EU organic farming requirements. The AB certification process is overseen by Agence Bio, but certification itself is left to a variety of French authorities.

EU certified organic food may also include items imported from non-member states, including countries such as Brazil, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. The EU recognizes the production practices in these countries as being equivalent to EU standards thus allowing you to buy organic Thai rice or Indian chamomile tea right here in Paris. When filling your cart or market bag with food, scan your goods for the “EU-leaf” sticker and you’ll know your purchases are certified organic. Spot an “AB” label and you’ll know your food is coming from your backyard–the fields just beyond the French capitol to the far corners of the France.*

Where can you find food labeled with the EU or “AB” logo? Head to these markets and stores to make your organic food purchases:

Raspail Organic Market
boulevard Raspail between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue de Rennes 75006
Metro: Rennes
Sunday 9AM to 3PM

Batignolles Organic Market
boulevard des Batignolles between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue de Rennes 75017
Metro: Rome or Place de Clichy
Saturday 9AM to 3PM

Brancusi Organic Market
Place Constantin Brancusi 75014
Metro: Gaîté
Saturday 9AM to 3PM

Naturalia

Biocoop

Elan Nature

Touch of Bio

Bio Culture

Nature a Paris
47 Boulevard St Germain
Paris 75005
Tel: 01 44 07 36 99

Canal Bio
46 Bis Quai Loire, 75019 Paris
Paris 75019
Tel: 01 42 06 44 44

Bio-Moi
35 rue Debelleyme
Paris 75003
Tel: 01 42 78 03 26

*To learn about other French bio distinctions, such as the AOC and AOP, visit here.

Making Sense of the Supermarket, Part III: Eggs

If you’ve found the eggs in the supermarket, congratulations! The next step is figuring out the difference in all the varieties.    The packaging always shows a consumption date of 28 days after the eggs were laid; they cannot be sold after 21 days have elapsed.  Only eggs less than 9 days from being laid may be labeled as oeufs frais (fresh eggs).

Every egg sold in France is marked with a code, for example: 0 FR ABT01.  The first digit (between 0 and 3) indicates how the chicken who laid the egg was raised. The two letters following indicate the country of production (here FR for France). The final digits signify the specific producer. In this post, we’ll focus on the meaning of the first digit.

0: Ninety percent of the food eaten by the chicken who laid this egg was organic (no chemicals or pesticides were used).  The chicken was raised en plein air,  that is, allowed to graze in an exterior area with 4 square meters per chicken.   There is an indoor shelter where the chicken sleeps and lays eggs, but there is a limit to the number of chickens living in the interior area. The carton will be marked “AB” indicating that this is a fully organic product.

1: This egg was laid by a free-range chicken allowed to graze in an area at least 4 square meters per chicken. 

 2: This egg was laid by an uncaged chicken but one allowed only to graze indoors.   There is a limit of 9 chickens per square meter for eggs from this location to be marked “2.”

3: This egg was raised by a caged chicken living indoors.  There may be up to 18 chickens per square meter in this location.

Eggs marked “0” are considered to be of the highest quality and are priced accordingly.

Eggs are also labeled on the packaging by their size from petit (less than 53 grams) to XL (more than 73 grams).   For comparison purposes, an American egg classified as large weighs around 57 grams.

Today is Market Day

by Erin Chupp

Reposted with permission from Lyon Eats, a terrific blog designed to help Americans in Lyon, France find the foods they love.   While the selection of products is apparently wider in Paris, you still may get some ideas from this blog about where to find those special treats in your Parisian neighborhood.

What better way to fully experience the joys of French life, engulfing all of your senses, than with a trip to the neighborhood market? Feel the uneven cobblestones beneath your feet, knocking you off a balanced path from time to time. See the brilliant array of colors in the fruits and vegetables lined across the tables. Listen to the women gossip and barter over the sounds of a muffled accordion player nearby. Pick up a carrot or turnip and touch the dusty layer of dirt on the outer skin of the freshly dug vegetable.  [Editor’s Note:  Touch the merchandise only if you have the vendor’s permission!] Taste the sweetness of a perfectly ripened tomato the vendor sliced for sampling.

Most neighborhoods have at least one or more weekly open-air markets, often located in a town square or open parking lot and taking place in the morning. Many covered markets are open all day long. Your neighbors can point you in the right direction, or just follow the ladies making their pilgrimage with woven baskets and rolling carts.

Arrive at the market with an open and adventurous spirit. Market shopping can inspire you to cook new dishes and try new tastes. Be spontaneous. Don’t arrive with list in hand. Let that day’s promotions or soldes write your menu. Shopping mid-week often means fewer people and lower prices. You could also try going later in the day for the possibility of easier bargaining on the food needing to be eaten that day.


(c) K. Masson

No matter when you go to these marchés découverts, it is appreciated if you try to speak the language. Keep in mind basic shopping etiquette: “Bonjour,” “s’il vous plait,” “merci,” and “au revoir” said with a smile go a long way. As far as asking for different foods, manage what you can. There are little helpful hints peeking out of each section, as the name and price of all the items are often etched in white on small chalkboards.

Tip: one kilo = 2.2 pounds

Depending on the season, you will find tables covered in melons and berries or apples and pumpkins, and always an array of flowers, bursting with magnificent colors. Most often, quantities are sold by weight in kilos or grams. Good deals can be found by buying by the plateau, or dish that is pre-loaded with ripe produce.

There is no doubt the food you come home with will be the freshest available. Each producer is an expert on his goods. You will receive one-on-one assistance picking the perfect pêche or pomme. There will not be a need to spend time reading the labels at a supermarket or hypermarket. Which is better, ‘free range organic,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘grass-fed’ meat? The perk of the market experience is the ability to simply ask the farmer how their animals live.

If you become a repeat shopper, even if you only return once a week, forming a friendship with the producteur can get you the freshest pick and ideas on how to prepare an item with which you are unfamiliar. Instead of fingering through all the fruits, poking and prodding each one, tell the producer on what day you would like to eat your choice melon, and most will gladly pick out one perfect for the occasion. And when there are more than 350 different French cheeses, you are going to want an expert behind the table; someone who learned the trade from his father, who learned it from his father.

Tip: for farm-fresh eggs, save a cardboard container from your last supermarket trip. If not, there is a good chance you will be given your dozen in a brown paper bag, playing a juggling game to see how many whole eggs you have once you reach the kitchen.

There is much more to a market than fruits and veggies, though. Selections vary at each location, but you can often find fresh fish, meats, cheeses, honey and fruit juices. Let us not forget about the non-edibles too! Beautiful scarves, dainty handbags, shoes, jewelry, clothes and handmade crafts are also for sale; although on sale is more like it—a necklace at a department store might cost you 25 euros, whereas you might find the same one at the market for just five.

By shopping at a market, you might also lose a few things as well. In the popular book French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano reveals her ideas on the mysteries behind French eating habits, weight gain and “the secret of eating for pleasure.” One of Madame Guiliano’s recommendations for keeping a French figure is fresh ingredients found at your local market. She also says the way a French woman walks everywhere provides great exercise. While you are walking back and forth from the market, adding a rolling cart for a little resistance, you have combined a small workout with grocery shopping.

Whether it is picking up a mélange of dried fruit as an afternoon snack, instead of McDo, picking up supplies for a scrumptious picnic, or checking out the ripest produce for a delicious dinner, the open-air market is a true French advantage. Get out in the fresh air; take a stroll and find some fresh food.

Weekly Schedule for Parisian Food Markets

Guest author Erin Chupp is an American freelance writer and photographer. Copyright 2009. No reproductions of any part without prior written permission.