Until recently there were only a few traditional stores left that sold loose dried food in bulk in Barcelona. One of the older stores that survived since 1945 is Jaime Renobell's family-run bulk shop in the center of the old town. In this small but packed store you can find 18 different types of beans, 14 types of rices and 8 types of lentils, as well as different flours, dried fruit and nuts and spices.
These are all sold in bulk, offering many advantages such as a reduction in packaging and transportation, the ability to buy only as much as you need and hence avoid food waste, and often cheaper prices.
Earlier this year the Slow Shop Granel opened in the neighbourhood of Gracia in Barcelona. A fresh interior design that reminds us of a sweet shop lets customers choose from a wide range of organic and local products without the use of plastic packaging. The shop owners Judit Vidal and Iván Álvaro want the shopping experience to be fun, practical and responsible.
Casa Mariol, a local winery that bets on curious labels, encourages their customers in Barcelona to buy straight from the barrel and reuse their own bottles as often as they like. They keep reminding everyone: “Remember that if you bring your own recipient, you won’t have to buy one.” In their bodega, local food is on the menu, and the wine barrels are hard to miss. Miguel Angel Vaquer explains:
To enter a shop of bulk wine in the city is quite an olfactory experience. The perfume that impregnates these spaces is hard to explain. It is a communion of fresh wines and oak, aromatic herbs from the vermouth, and sweet aromas -with a musty touch- from the more mature wines and liqueurs.
If you find yourself in Barcelona, look for bulk shops and dare to shop there. Some sell wine, others coffee. Then there are the ones that sell dried food and cooked legumes, herbs and spices and many other natural products. All of them offer a unique experience and a more responsible way to shop.