Updated: Oct 26, 2021
When I moved here from the US, I had a utopian vision of food production in Switzerland. Everything would be pesticide free, all the food would be local and cows would be grazing contentedly in the countryside (okay, that last part is accurate). The truth is a little more complicated. To help you navigate, here is quick guide on bio (aka organic) food in Basel.
What is Bio by Swiss standards?
Generally speaking, Swiss bio standards use nature’s systems and processes. They do not allow genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation, irradiation, or chemical-synthetic products, such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. According to Bio Suisse, Swiss organic standards are stricter than EU standards.
Bio farms focus on farm methods that have a less intensive impact on the land and workers and generally yield 20-30% less than conventionally produced crops and livestock (hence the higher price). In 2019, bio products represented 10% of the market share in Switzerland.
Let’s Talk Labels
There are a lot of them. Bio.inspecta offers a more comprehensive list, but here are some of the more common ones:
This label focuses on biodynamic products and is a gold standard bio label.
This is Switzerland’s largest organic label. It is not quite as strict as Demeter but still a solid bio option.
This label emphasizes the quality of plant and animal genetics, with a focus on traditional crops and endangered species.
This globally recognized label identifies fish and fish products that originate from sustainable fishing methods.
Where To Buy Bio
The Big Shops
Many bio products are available at the bigger grocery stores. For most products, Coop’s Naturaplan and Migros’ Bio (for Swiss produced goods) meet Suisse Bio guidelines. Migros Bio must also meet EU bio standards if produced outside Switzerland. Both Migros and Coop also have regional products, which are labelled respectively as Aus der Region. Für die Region and Mini Region.
Germany's Al Natura (with locations also in Weil am Rhein or Grenzach) opened its first grocery store in Basel (Henric Petri-Strasse 22, 4051 Basel) in May 2021, which offers a wide range of bio products from food to cleaning supplies to cosmetics. Many of their products are also sold with a more limited selection in Migros.
The Small Shops
There are smaller, bio oriented markets scattered across the city too. Here are few favorites:
Hoeheners (Schützenmattstrasse 30, 4051 Basel) is a full service bio market, a few blocks from Spalentor, with a great butcher.
Hofladen Basel (Steinentorberg 20, 4051 Basel) is a bio farm shop in Markthalle where you can find a variety of products.
L'Ultimo Bacio (Güterstrasse 199, 4053 Basel) is a small but well stocked bio store located not far from SBB.
LOKAL (Erasmuspl. 15, 4057 Basel) is cool little bio shop in Kleinbasel conveniently located next to Basel Unverpackt, a bulk goods store which offers a number of bio products too (don’t forget your containers)!
Stadtbuur (Wettsteinstrasse 6, 4125 Riehen) in Riehen offers many bio and regional products.
Buying From the Farm
There are a number of farmers markets around the city where you can find local, and in some cases, bio products. The City Market at Marktplatz has several bio stalls and many of the village markets have stalls that have bio products as well. Also, Myfarm.ch has a helpful search function to find local, smaller Hofladens (farm stores).
Not in the mood to go the market? Farmy.ch is a great online option where you can have farm products delivered to your doorstep. There are also some farm-share (a produce subscription service) options around the region, such as those offered by Birsmattehof.
What did I miss? Feel free to add your own tips and insights below!