Once a bastion of unhealthy eating, Warsaw has found an appetite for natural food. Leading the trend is BioBazar, Warsaw’s first truly organic market.
The BioBazar is many things at once – a huge market selling organic products (most being certified as such), a place to learn more about organic eating, a chance to talk to the sellers about their products and how they are made and a place to discover regional foods and traditional recipes. It prides itself in being the first such initiative in Poland on such a scale and, as such, draws heavy crowds of food-lovers looking for “real” food. In this market, which takes over the former Norblin factory every Saturday morning, you’ll find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to organic meats, hams, fish and dairy produce, not to mention eggs, coffee, tea, juices and even cosmetic products and ecofriendly toys – put simply, anything one might require to lead an ecofriendly and healthy lifestyle. The Insider stopped by on the first sunny Saturday of Spring to talk to a few of the sellers about their products, and why they do what they do.
WI: Tell us a little about your stand and how it all began.
J: It started in November of 2012 when my uncle, who has an organic apple orchard near Warsaw, suddenly came to our house and announced that he had seven tons of Golden Delicious apples! He went on, saying he had nowhere to sell them and they’d freeze if he didn’t get rid of them. To which I said, “Oh dear… we must save these apples!” So my friend then suggested buying the first ton and doing something, processing them somehow. And that’s what we did: we experimented, and within a few months we had seven different products on offer – non-alcoholic apple punch, pickled apples, apple preserves with no added sugar, apple jams and apple cream, apple juice and caramelized apples with onions. In the meantime, the idea to sell them at BioBazar cropped up and so here we are, every Saturday since December. We have loyal customers, who come and talk to us about their childhood tastes, comment and rate our products, which is great. Contact with people and the knowledge that we are offering people healthy food – organic, not sprayed with pesticides and with incredible flavors – gives us an enormous satisfaction. It’s an incredible adventure.
You also sell fresh apples…
Yes we do, from befriended orchard owners. We also try to buy and promote old varieties. In Poland there are about 500 different kinds of apples! This is an astonishing bounty. Unfortunately, the market selects apples, usually the ones that can be grown the easiest. But old varieties can still be found, at places like BioBazar, and I always tell my clients to search for them because of their incredible flavors.
How do you see the future of organic produce in Warsaw?
I think people’s consciousness is growing. People can see that the food sold in supermarkets is of a worse quality than what they ate when they were children. I see a future, definitely, because organic produce is food that benefits our health. If someone wants to be healthy, he/she must eat healthily.
WI: How long have you been doing what you do? M: I have been involved and interested in the organic movement for quite sometime, since the 80s. Once I started my own farm, there were ups and downs over the years, as always. Once we planted tomatoes, they were there one day and gone the next because the pests ate them – the potatoes hadn’t grown enough yet.
With all these pests, how is the farming kept organic?
We use products that are approved and we also make our own solutions from plants. I keep up-to-date with what’s new in organic farming too. Of course, experience plays an important role as well, as each year is different. One year we had turkeys collecting all the caterpillars off the cabbage: it worked so well that it looked like we had trained them! If I used pesticides, might I add, I would be spending an extra zł. 30,000 on the chemicals alone.
What will you be selling in May and June?
In May we usually have strawberries but I’m not so sure about this year… it depends if nature catches up with the season. Of course, there will be staples like radishes and salad – all of the vegetables first harvested from the field since we don’t grow under foil or in greenhouses. Does such farming have a future?
Yes, Warsaw is a good place to sell organic food because it is populous. We get quite a lot of foreigners coming here to buy it. It will definitely be a growing market because people do want this healthier food. We also get many clients with special dietary needs. People are starting to search for these healthier alternatives.
WI: Why organic produce?
Z: Our boss is a fan of healthy, organic produce – it’s as simple as that! He wants it to be as healthy as possible.
How do you ensure your meat products are organic?
“Jasiołka” has agreements signed with farmers who provide it with meat that we then smoke. Their farms constantly have quality controls. The methods of production are traditional: we smoke on alder, beech or fruit tree wood. It’s a small-scale production – we only employ about 20 people.
How do you see the growth of the organic produce market?
Well it is expensive, and people do buy it, but in smaller amounts. But so far, so good.