Supermarket Free in Lausanne

September 7, 2022

Tired of braving the crowds at the Coop or Migros on Saturdays and interested in supporting local businesses and farms? Here’s your guide to going supermarket free in Lausanne.

It was during my weekly trip to the market for fruits and vegetables that I had the idea: instead of heading to the Coop for the rest of my groceries, why not try to do all my shopping at the market and in small local shops instead? I ended up finding everything on my list in my neighborhood that day without stepping foot in the Coop. And so began my month long experiment in doing all my shopping without a supermarket.

It turns out I was not the first person to have this idea. The “supermarket-free February” (février sans supermarchés) trend began in Switzerland a few years back and has now spread to other European countries. For 2022, En Vert Contre Tout launched a “supermarket-free summer”, and you can follow their website and Facebook page for more information and helpful tips.

Here is what I learned over the following 4 weeks of avoiding les “grandes surfaces”.

Why do it?

  • It’s a great way to support our local businesses, farmers and entrepreneurs. Local stores are struggling right now post-Covid, and some that sell organic and bulk products have even been forced to close. Now is the time to support them.
  • It’s good for the environment. You use MUCH less plastic, and most of the food comes from close by, cutting down on transport costs and emissions. One of the pesky plastic items I couldn’t get around at the grocery store was yogurt. Now my fresh-from-the-farm yogurt and milk come in glass jars that I return to the store each week to be reused.
  • It costs roughly the same as going to a grocery store. While I didn’t do a product-by-product price comparison, my weekly spending wasn’t higher than normal.
  • It’s much more enjoyable and strengthens your sense of community. You quickly get to know the people working in your neighborhood stores and might get to know some neighbors while you’re out too. As an added bonus, you don’t have to deal with shopping cart traffic jams in the produce section of the Coop.

What to keep in mind:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Meal planning was key, as it was important to know exactly what I needed and therefore where I would need to go to get it all. I plotted out the spots where I would need to go each week, especially for hard to find products.
  • You’ll mostly be eating what’s in season. So again, plan well and look up recipes and options for preparing what you’ll be finding in the market.
  • It’s hard to find toilet paper. As are other similar products, such as cleaning supplies, etc. Kiss the Ground (which used to be Bio c’est Bon) does sell a wide variety of these products, so I would go there to stock up.  Some places that sell in bulk or other natural food stores also carry these types of products. And making cosmetics and cleaning supplies at home is also an option for the more adventurous. Importantly, don’t stress too much about a total boycott! The goal is to support local business as much as possible, and some products just aren’t available there.
  • This is certainly more challenging to do as a parent. Diapers and other products are harder to find, and going to several stores and markets can take a bit more (precious) time than a one-stop at the supermarket.

Where to go?

The many markets in and around Lausanne are a great place to get your produce. Find out when and where the closest market to you is here.

Be sure to check out your small, neighborhood épicieries, many of which may have the added bonus of carrying products from other countries or cultures (mine is Italy!). And find the closest dairy shop, butcher and the bakery for other fresh products. This website can help you find local organic stores nearby.

Lausanne has many organic health food stores, and some that sell self-service bulk foods, allowing you to buy pasta, grains, flour, and so much more in recyclable containers, decreasing your use of plastic. Some also carry home and beauty products:

Did you know you can also buy directly from a farm right here in Lausanne?

And there are several farm (or market) delivery services in and around Lausanne to help with your shopping:

Would you ever try going 'supermarket free' in Lausanne?

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