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Old 15.11.2011, 23:36
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Gourmet Grocer, Farmer's Market's et al

I had read with some disappointment that there were some dominant players in the grocery business in the form of large supermarket chains. While I expect them to be of high quality I was wondering if there was anything better in the way of smaller boutique grocery chains or individual stores in some of the bigger cities like Lucerne or Zurich or Zug.

Also, how are those big supermarket chains? I suppose I would want to know do they have a lot of imported foods from other European countries or anything from the USA?

Are there also in each medium sized town in the German speaking regions a baker, butcher/deli, patisserie, fish monger, etc? Have the hypermarts destroyed this style of market or was it never there or does it still coexist?

Finally are there fresh produce markets aka farmer's markets where I can buy local and maybe imported fruits and vegetables? Are they spring to fall or only in the summers?
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Old 16.11.2011, 15:01
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Re: Gourmet Grocer, Farmer's Market's et al

Not sure why you "read with disappointment" that we have basically two bigger supermarket chains that cover most of the market... Switzerland is not an idyllic world with cute little shops. We also live in the 21st century and that includes food being a hard and tough business.
Since the quality in the supermarket is good (my American friend told me, the shittiest food he saw here is still way better than shitty food in the US), probably people didn't see any need to continue to buy in smaller stores, where prices used to be higher than in supermarkets. It also took less time to go to one shop (=supermarket) and get all the groceries there instead of having to go to three to four different ones. That's what my Mom said when she stopped going to the dairy shop "it saves me time and I get the same stuff anyway". So yes, the bigger chains flattened quite a lot of smaller and middle size stores in the 60ies and 70ies.

The two big players here, Migros and Coop, both import food from elsewhere in the world. Including the US, but don't expect too much! Maybe you have a look here in the forum about people looking for specific food stuff. Some is simply not known here and has to be bought in specialized shops or substituted. Well... at least, I get the marshmallows for the marshmallow treats I make for my friend. But try to find brown sugar, cream of tartar or graham crackers...

However, there are still shops like butcheries, bakeries and patisseries (rather a lot of them... at least, to me who's easily tempted by windows full of sweets...). Sometimes you can get a better price in the smaller shops. Depends on the neighborhood you live in, I'd say.

Farmer's Markets: yes, exist and getting more and more popular, I think. At least, the one in Zurich-Oerlikon on Saturdays is always packed with people!
But: unlike in the US, the stuff they sell there usually doesn't come at a lower price than in supermarkets (I think they usually are more expensive) or are generally fresher or better quality. Season is from spring to autumn. At least, the one near where I live is still open these days.

Anyway. Hope that helps you to overcome your fear that you will be pressed to only buy and eat "standardized" food.
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Old 16.11.2011, 15:14
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Re: Gourmet Grocer, Farmer's Market's et al

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Also, how are those big supermarket chains? I suppose I would want to know do they have a lot of imported foods from other European countries or anything from the USA?
What sort of things are you looking for in particular?
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