A few days ago, a branch of organic food supermarket chain Ekoplaza in Amsterdam West not far from 24oranges HQ, opened a plastic-free pop-up supermarket, selling close to 700 plastic-free products. Although the initiative comes from international action group A Plastic Planet from London, Amsterdam’s Plastic Soup Foundation was able to convince the Londoners to launch the world premiere in the Dutch capital.
The packaging resembles the look, feel and strength of real plastic, but is made using natural, 100% biodegradable materials. Ekoplaza has 74 supermarkets throughout the Netherlands and hopes to rollout this concept to other branches by the end of 2018.
“Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros developed a bioplastic made from algae, which they believe could completely replace synthetic plastics over time, while Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Shahar Livne created a clay-like material using discarded plastic.”
And if they can do, so can everybody else at some point, starting with the insane amount of uselessly, individually wrapped vegetables at regular supermarkets.
A quick Google search with ‘Netherlands’ and ‘food waste’ (albeit in Dutch) produces all kinds of links from the past few years, summed up as ‘it’s terrible that we waste so much food, we’re going to do something about it’ when the reality today is that the Netherlands is still number one in Europe when it comes to wasting food.
Despite goals that were set between 2009 and 2015, one third of all food gets thrown out in the Netherlands, as no progress whatsoever has been made since then to curb this bad behaviour. Reasons include the government saying that the goals they set back in 2015 of 20 percent less waste was not realistic and that consumers buy too much, get rid of it on the expiration date unnecessarily and don’t keep food in the right place. As well, supermarkets are guilty of putting unnecessary expiration dates on fruits and vegetables, while growers throw out perfectly good produce instead of transforming it into other products.
Having some shops open until 10pm is something many people in the Netherlands, especially expats, don’t know the uphill battle it was and may have helped push through without knowing it. The fight to have any kind of shop open past the regular Dutch hours of 6pm was won about 10 years ago when Albert Heijn decided to have supermarkets in major cities open from 8am to 8pm, something if I remember correctly political party D66 (Democrats), a party that traditionally caters to expats, were very much in favour of. At the time it upset a lot of smaller shops that claimed they could not compete, the same argument used for shops not being open on Sundays, but without the sorry Christian excuse that usually comes with it.
Rob van Gijzel, the Mayor of Eindhoven (Labour) would love to accommodate the expat population of his city by having all matters of shops in the city centre open until 10pm. His goal is to make Eindhoven more attractive to ‘knowledge workers’ who come from cities with millions of residents and who aren’t used to shops closing at 6pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends, with the exception of ‘late night shopping nights’ until 9pm, usually Thursdays or Fridays. And of course this means the Dutch get to shop more conveniently as well. But the stakeholders are against the 10pm opening hours, saying “it’s a bridge too far”.
Back in 1996 when I came to work here as a PA for the summer, I lived in Delft and worked in Hoofddorp. I finished worked at about 17:30 and it was completely impossible to buy any supermarket food after 6pm: there were no Albert Heijn To Go’s at train stations back then. The Dutch would tell me to buy all my food for the week on Saturdays like everyone else, but how could I buy seven days’ worth of food for two (I had a roommate – we switched weeks) without a car or even a bike, never mind that our small student fridge couldn’t fit all the food? He had time during the day as a student – I didn’t.
Here’s what I had to do to get food for dinner: I would take the train to Hoofddorp as usual, but get off in Leiden since my connection was always a 25-minute wait. Supermarket chain Via (now defunct) was right next to the train station and open at 7am. Opening early was the trick back then to avoid the arguments about being open late. I would have 25 minutes to shop for dinner and catch my train to get to work. Then I would go to the office’s restaurant and ask to use their fridge to store my food. They laughed, but understood my logic. I’d bring the food home in the train and have food for dinner.
When I told my roommate how retarded opening hours were as compared to what I knew he said it will change some day, and it did. It could change some more though, so yes 10pm for at least food would make a lot of our lives easier and provide more jobs to people. Yes, some supermarkets are open until 10pm now, thanks to Albert Heijn and expats whinging about it. Go Eindhoven!
– Light peanut butter with a whopping 451% (!) more sugar than normal peanut butter.
– A small dessert of which half of it is air.
– Apple juice diluted with water and passed off as half as sweet.
– Cranberries that have a layer of syrup on them, sold as superfood.
– Children’s cookies “full of nutrients”, but with tons of sugar in them.
And two others with misleading labels that finally have less to do with hidden sugars and more to do with not enough proper product. I voted for the cranberries, which seems like the biggest con, but the cookies and peanut butter are right up there.
The king of tracksuits, media phenomenon and self-proclaimed stylist Roy Donders, has gotten himself in a spot of bother over his last name.
Donders is involved in a loyalty scheme for the Jumbo supermarket chain that lets football fans save up for a garish orange tracksuit (dubbed cheering suit) as part of the commercial frenzy leading up to this year’s World Cup and has lent his name to the slogan “We geven ze op hun donders” (‘let’s give ’em hell’, except that ‘donder’ means ‘thunder’).
This, according to Telegraaf, angered shoppers in the bible belt for an as yet unexplained reason. Citizens of Barneveld asked the local supermarket to remove all advertising for the scheme. The store manager gave into their demands.
Ma Donders was furious, Omroep Brabant wrote: “I don’t know what kind of faith these people have, but Donders is our last name. You cannot change that.” Meanwhile the issue has become moot because of a run on the hideous tracksuits—Jumbo claim to have run out. A spokesperson told Omroep Brabant that sales felt like “Christmas in May”.
“Virgin Holland sold Karma Chameleon to a supermarket chain for 5000 euros, the dirty fucking shit-heads! And they have no fucking respect!” Thus tweeted British eighties’ pop star Boy George on October 2.
Not sure if he is upset about the money, about the clip, or about not having been consulted.
The clip shows a super market manager singing “Tweede komme-komme-kommer gratis”. In English: “Second cu-cu-cucumber for free. You get one for free. You get one for free-hee-hee-hee.”
Last weekend, a 60-year-old man found a 9mm bullet in a loaf of bread bought in a supermarket in The Hague. The mystery of the wayward bullet has not been unravelled. The police are investigating and stuff.
The employees of Dutch supermarket C-1000 have compiled a list of the items that are the most difficult to find in their supermarkets and placed it on their hyve, according to personnel magazine, Club1000. Interestingly enough, in most stores, the same products are difficult to find.
1. Cocktail toothpicks
4. Corn Starch
A note to foreigners:
1. There are no signs in Dutch stores to give you a general idea of where products can be found.
2. If you ask the staff, they point, but won’t bring you to the product (In North America, they are taught to bring you to the product – it increases the chance of a sale).
3. Every store of the same chain has a different layout, as buildings differ greatly.
4. And stores stock up during opening hours (!), especially on Saturday when it’s busy, and cannot be bothered to help you then.
In a C1000 in Delft, I found sardines with the Indonesian products. Why? Because the sardines were from outside the EU. The ‘normal’ sardines were from Britain with the tuna and salmon, but the ones I found were from Canada. Very logical.
A woman from Meppel, Drenthe found a Neanderthal hand axe on the street in front of the supermarket and gave it to the Drents Museum in the town of Assen. Street builders probably found the ‘rock’ and unknowingly discarded it. The 80,000 to 55,000 year-old axe broke in two. The woman realised that it was a hand axe and took it home. Even if the axe is broken, the museum claims it is the nicest copy of the Northern Netherlands, which is now on display in the museum. Although Neanderthal hand axes are found only sporadically, finding such a copy in the street is highly unlikely.