In Amsterdam, all sort of non-commercial alternatives have developed over the years in the areas of living and working, but also concerning food consumption and distribution and our relationship with nature and the environment. Underneath, we have given a number of these alternatives. Many are run by volunteers and we think they deserve a mention! Throughout the city, you can find volunteers who are involved in their neighbourhoods, improving the quality of life there and throwing up barricades against the total commercialisation of public life. The more public services in Amsterdam are sold off and privatised, the more necessary it becomes to take grass roots initiatives ourselves if we are to prevent Amsterdam becoming a sterile business, entertainment and park city, solely for the benefit of tourism and big business. We advise everyone to come and take a look at the different alternatives and to make your own contribution. It makes life a lot richer, the city more beautiful, ensuring that it continues to be for everyone.
We have not named any shops in this list, but we would like people to take a critical look at shops and to shop for organic products at the farmers’ markets and small neighbourhood health food shops. Big organic chain stores with lots of organic products are not generally interested in where their unsprayed products come from; we advise you to also consider where your food comes from. Are organic bell peppers flown in from Australia in the middle of winter really so environmentally friendly?
A community kitchen (volkskeuken) is not some sort of soup kitchen, as some people seem to think. Community kitchens have often started off in squats and/or community centres as places where the less well off of the neighbourhood could eat low priced, tasty meals while meeting their neighbours and finding out what was going on in the area. There is a community kitchen open somewhere in Amsterdam nearly every day. Most community kitchens make vegetarian or vegan food, sometimes from organic ingredients and in general, the prices are mostly not over €7 for a 2 or 3 course meal. Go on, try it! Some examples:
- Voku ChezMolli Open every Thursday from 18.00, food from 19.00 3 course vegan meal for €3,5. Van Ostadestraat 55 huis, De Pijp Reserve before 15:00 at 020-6761427 www.molli.nl
- Miltvuur Keuken Zuid (MKZ) MKZ is the Binnenpret’s community kitchen. It started life as the Bollocks café, but grew too big for its boots. Open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 19.00-22.00.
€5 for a 3 course veganmeal. To reserve, call 020-6790712 on the same day from between 14.30 and 18.00. On Saturday, no reservation : first come first served! 1e Schinkelstraat 16, www.xs4all.nl/~binnenpr/mkz.htm
- De Peper Restaurant in the former film academy OT301
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, open from 18.00 to 20:30, vegan and organic, €7-10 for starter and main course. Dessert for an additional €1,5. To reserve, call 020-4122954 from 16.30 the same day. Overtoom 301, Oud West www.depeper.org
- Zaal 100 Restaurant open every Wednesday at 18.00 Vegetarian, 3 courses for €7,5 euro (maybe surprises) De Wittenstraat 100, Westerpark, Tel: 020-6880127 www.vekologisch.nl
- Joe’s Garage Normally this squatted social center serves vegetarian meals (vegan optional) every Monday and Thursday from 19:00. No reservation is needed, €3. Pretoriusstraat 43. www.joesgarage.nl
- Het Einde van de Wereld Eating in the belly of ship. Choice between organic vegetarian (€6) or meat (€8) dish. Unless you are more than 8 people, no reservations but you’d better come in time! Wednesday and Friday, 18:00 – 22:00 with often live music on Fridays. Check nice pics on their website! Javakade 61 (opposite no. 4), on Java-eiland (Zeeburg) www.eindevandewereld.nl
- Food Not Bombs….. is a soup kitchen. The volunteers from Food not Bombs collect left-over food from shops and markets and cook mainly vegan meals that are distributed on the street. Food not Bombs is critical of our consumer society that is wasting so much food while people suffer from hunger in other countries and from poverty here… In Amsterdam food is cooked each month on a Sunday in squat bar De Mollie (see above) and handed out on the Museumplein. For more information on the exact dates, etc, mail email@example.com. General information about Food not Bombs in the Netherlands: http://www.foodnotbombs.net/NETHERLANDS.
- Milieudefensie, the Dutch Friends of the Earth National website with well documented files about environmental issues related to the food chain such as megastables or soy imports from South America. Also see the website Wet wat je eet (“Know what you eat”) about pesticide levels on fruit and vegetables.
- Jongeren Milieu Aktief Is a youth environmental organisation affiliated to Milieudefensie, which organises various activities for young people about environment and sometimes also handles food-related topics. Organises regular organic cooking courses.
- XminY Solidariteitsfonds Left wing Amsterdam funding organisation that sponsors all sorts of activities and initiatives and conducts an international campaign against genetic modification technologies.
- Milieucentrum Amsterdam & Groene agenda All the environmental and nature organisations in Amsterdam are members of this group. You will find a lot of news about nature and environment in the city as well as the Green Agenda on their website. The Green Agenda is an overview of activities around these themes.
- Goede Waar & Co. Organisation promoting people and planet friendly consumption patterns. Has lots of news and research into food, fair trade, gene technology, organic food, etc. its magazine has studies on food and drink, taste tests and the Ware Watchers (a tv program) that investigates the origin and production of goods. Together with the Vegetarian Society, Goede Waar also came up with the V model, a list of essential food types necessary for a healthy diet that did not include meat.
- Platform Biologica Biologica is a policy and promotion organisation for organic agriculture and food. On their website there is all sorts of news about organic farming and food in the Netherlands, with lots of information for consumers and an Eco guide with addresses of places selling organic produce. Each year in June, Biologica organises open days at organic farms in the Netherlands. It is only a pity it mainly promotes large scale organic agriculture and doesn’t support local food initiatives.
- Slow Food convivium Amsterdam International movement to defend the right to enjoy good food and drink. The Slow Food movement was set up to challenge the standardised fast food that is taking over everywhere. Slow Food promotes local specialties, biodiversity and the preservation of taste and culture. The members sometimes have dinners and organise tasting events a few times a year in Amsterdam.
- Nederlandse Vegetariersbond Interest group for vegetarians, produces Leven magazine, a vegetarian restaurant guide and organises an annual vegetarian day.
- Nederlandse Vereniging voor Veganisme Club for vegans to promote veganism and combat cruelty to animals. Organises world vegan day every autumn.
- Vegatopia Good veggie food for everyone! Website about vegetarian cooking and food, cookery workshops, restaurants, discussion forum, etc. Lots of delicious recipes and tips.
- Voedingscentrum Lots of information about health and food, weight, etc.
- The Happy Cow International online communities of vegans, vegetarians and people into healthy and sustainable lifestyle. You can find a long list of restaurants and shops in the Netherlands on their directory page.
Every district in Amsterdam has a neighbourhood centre. These are not community centres where people come to play cards or take painting lessons, but are more action-focussed places where action groups work together on matters like rent laws, housing scarcity and urban decline, green in the city, etc. Neighbourhood centres work together with residents to create pleasant and lively neighbourhoods. In the area of environment and nature, they are actively involved in managing neighbourhood gardens, water gardens, pavement gardens, protecting animals, giving information about environment friendly practises and much more. Most neighbourhood centres organise a green day around these themes a few times a year. Neighbourhood centres (Wijkcentra) are a good way to become active in your neighbourhood and to get to know people. A number of active neighbourhood centres:
- – Wijkcentrum Ceintuur, in De Pijp, Gerard Doustraat 133, tel. 0206764800, website http://wijkcentrumceintuur.nl/, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- – Wijkopbouwcentrum Vondelpark-Concertgebouwbuurt, Amsterdam-zuid, Hendrik Jacobszstraat 4-6, tel. 66 28 237, website www.wocvondelpark.nl, email: email@example.com
- – Wijkopbouworgaan Zuid-West, Achillesstraat 85, tel.: 020 662 03 89, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.woczuidwest.nl
- – Wijkcentrum D’Oude Stadt, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 55, tel. 020 638 22055, website : www.oudestadt.nl
- – Wijkcentrum Jordaan en Gouden Reael, Elandsgracht 70, tel. 020 7192371, website : www.jordaangoudenreael.nl,
- – Wijkcentrum Oostelijk Binnenstad, Kleine Wittenburgerstraat 201, tel 0206223879, e-mail : email@example.com, website : www.wcob.nl
Organic farmers come to Amsterdam to sell their fresh products. Every Saturday there are two different markets, where you can buy organic veggies, fruits, cheeses, bread, meat, juice and wine. The markets are open from 9-5 and are at the Noordermarkt in the Jordaan and the Nieuwmarkt near the Zeedijk. The farmers’ market in the Jordaan has this website: www.boerenmarktamsterdam.nl
If you thought that Amsterdam is far removed for the countryside, think again. From the city centre, you can be on a farm within 20 minutes. Try it sometime – go cycle in rustic North, along the Amstel, in Spaarnwoude or the Haarlemermeer. Within the city limits, there are still a few functioning farms, but they are under threat from encroaching property development. Some still survive because they combine farming with other activities. We’ve named a few here:
- De Buurtboerderij in het Westerpark, Spaarndammerdijk 319, tel 020-4865500 Threatened old farm under the smoke of Sloterdijk station, squatted by neighbourhood residents to keep it from being knocked down to make way for a petrol station, lots of public activities, dinner at 18.00 on Mondays, Friday and Saturday. Pancakes for children on Sunday afternoons.
- De Boterbloem in Osdorp, Lutkemeerseweg 262, tel. 020-6100821 Small organic vegetable farm in the threatened Lutkemeerpolder just outside Osdorp, which sells vegetables and fruit at the farm in spring, summer and autumn. People can come take a look at the fields, vegetable garden and orchard or to buy fresh vegetables, except on Tuesday. Farmer Trijntje Hoogendam enjoys telling visitors about the farm. The farm is under threat from plans to build a business park for Schiphol airport. The Boterbloem is fighting these plans and have set up a donor system for people who want this unique natural area to remain. You can support the farm donating €10 per year.
- De Stadshoeve in Zunderdorp, Zunderdorpergouw 29, email: firstname.lastname@example.org BD farm with cows and sheep under the smoke of North Amsterdam, just ouside the ring road. Facilities for children, school programs and open days for public.
- Squatnet Website with info on squatting and related matters, including radar, an alternative events agenda which can be searched according to theme.
- Independent Media Centre Nederland News website where everyone can post news about politics, actions, info evenings and much more.
- De Vrije Ruimte Organisation to support and promote cultural free places like the Plantage Doklaan where ASEED Europe is based.
Radar On the digital agenda Radar you can find a lot of political, social and cultural events in Amsterdam and outside Amsterdam