Please choose Language or Country
or
Magazine Home

Natural Enjoyment 3 minutes to read

By now it is impossible to imagine the Austrian gastro scene without organic food and organic restaurants. And it’s a boom that brings pleasure to everyone.

Author: Renate Wagner-Wittula

Anyone interested in healthy organic food no longer has to worry about being laughed at. On the contrary, organic foods are well regarded and consumers appreciate the hard work and dedication of the many ambitious organic farmers throughout Austria. That is perhaps not least of all because of the enormous popularity of the international Slow Food movement which began in Italy and focuses on naturally farmed and processed food. “Slow food” is now a universal term for the healthy culinary enjoyment that can be found in both the Austrian gastro scene and the organic food trade.

20%

of the land in Austria is cultivated organically.

 

Organically oriented restaurants, organic markets and supermarket shelves that are well-stocked with organic products have helped tasty and sustainable food become a roaring success amongst the Austrians - – and demand is growing from year to year. Hardly surprising: after all, we are what we eat. The most recent cookery trend that has come to us from Scandinavia even brings moss, lichen and soil into the kitchen. Recipe books talk about deep-fried lichen, for example, that is coated in earth or cooked in hay. While those might be considered rather extravagant pleasures, they reflect peoples’ longing to become one with nature again, especially where their food is concerned.

Fortunately, there are easier ways of putting healthy natural food on our plates than swarming out into the forest and dragging bulging sacks back home. A dense network of Austrian producers keeps those who value organic food very well supplied. Many organic farmers deliver to domestic supermarkets or sell their products at the weekly markets in the bigger towns and villages, while others have already chosen the comfortable option of selling directly online. All it takes is a few mouse clicks and a tasty “organic food box” packed with fresh fruit and vegetables is on the doorstep.

 

Whereas the organic boom among households has only really taken hold on a massive scale in the last few years, restaurants discovered organic products much earlier. After pioneers like Christian Wrenkh, who opened Vienna‘s first vegetarian wholefood restaurant in 1982, Josef Floh, like several other organically focused restaurateurs, also began thinking about the origins of his processed food more than 20 years ago. While many of his colleagues were still filling the order books of foreign meat and fish importers, he began ordering Austrian products whenever he could – and passed on the names of his suppliers to his guests in his restaurant in Langenlebarn in Lower Austria. What in those days was a sensation, has now become a much-valued habit in restaurants that take pride in what they do.

The passionate food lover is convinced that “products should be produced and created with love, because then they taste better too”, and has now set the radius within which he buys his products at 41 miles. Obviously that has pushed crayfish, lobster and saltwater fish off the menu but the clientele don’t appear to miss them. On the contrary: Wild Austrian fish caught in Lake Hallstatt and organic char from Schwarzau have proven such tasty replacements for their saltwater counterparts that it’s hard to get a table at Floh’s restaurant, especially at the weekend.

The restaurant’s great popularity shows that guests are more than willing to follow Austrian chefs toward greater sustainability. It is a logical consequence that fruit and vegetables, meat and fish that have all been lovingly prepared by hand without added chemicals cannot be offered at dumping prices. “I have never asked about the price of honest food. The quality of the product comes first – and the passion.” A culinary creed that explains why chefs with a passion for food as strong as Josef Floh’s are seldom among the top earners in their field. But on the other hand, they are as sure of the affection of their loyal clientele as of the satisfying certainty that they are doing the right thing – and that is the food from which organic chefs live.

Encounters with nature

Image copyrights

The main purpose of the two main domains www.austria.info and www.austriatourism.com is the promotion of Austria as a holiday destination.