Thankfully, though, vacation has come, full of bright days and empty hours and chances to explore. Nothing makes one feel more accomplished than hopping on the bicycle, stuffing onself senseless at a buffet, zipping out to the end of the subway line, and doing a bit of sleuthing. Which is exactly what I - actually, we, since I had an accomplice this time - did on Tuesday. This post, and the following two, contain the fruits of our labor.
Welcome to Chorok Maeul (초록마을, Green Village), Siji Branch!
Chorok Maeul, founded in 1999, is dedicated to "facilitating the distribution of domestic, environmentally friendly, organic foods and providing consumers with healthy foodstuffs bearing the sweat and devotion of the farmland." Korean production of organic food has increased tenfold over the last ten years, and the number of Chorok Maeul outlets has risen from one to over two hundred. This success may be due, at least in part, to their three pledges:
"To the customer: We promise to provide only products which have been certified as both safe and eco-friendly."
"To the producer: We will not forget your honesty, nor the precious sweat of your brow."
"To the environment: We will take the lead in watching and protecting the environment, which itself gives us life."
Dwarfed by the nearby Sinmae market and rendered inconspicous by the noise of the nearby phone shops and ultra-popular dumpling steamery, Chorok Maeul is actually much bigger than it looks from the outside. In addition the the standard Korean organic offerings of
organic beans, whole- and mixed-grain rices, jams (including organic German peanut butter!)
noodles, snacks, flour, and pancake mix made from domestic grains,
loads of fresh, organic, domestic, seasonal produce, antibiotic-free eggs, soy sauce, red pepper paste, and other Korean goodies,
Chorok Maeul also stocks a good variety of breafast mix powders, cosmetics, honeys, teas, and, most importantly, boozes.
Not pictured, but also worth mentioning, is the selection of breads - whole grain, five grain, and more - made from organic Korean flour.
Unlike Hansallim and ICoop, Chorok Maeul doesn't require customers to purchase a membership. Regular customers can enroll in a program to earn reward points, which can be spent just like cash on any product in the store. If you'd rather just do your shopping and get on with it, that's fine too.
You can pay Chorok Maeul a visit any day of the week; they're open from 10AM-9PM Monday through Saturday, and 10AM to 6PM on Sundays. The Siji branch of Chorok Maeul is located at in Sinmae-dong, Suseong-gu 578-8, a few minutes' walk away from Sinmae station. Come out of exit five and walk straight until the next big intersection. Turn right onto Sinmae-ro, walk south about a block and a half, and it'll be on your left; if you get to Sinmae Elementary School, you've gone too far. Alternately, you can head west from exit two of Sawol station, walk across the river, turn left at Sinmae-ro, and then follow the remaining directions above. Here's a map.
For those of you who live somewhere other than Siji - i.e., just about everybody - cheer up! In addition to a number of other organic shops that Daegu Green Living has yet to document, there are two more Chorok Maeul outlets: one in Chilgok and one in Songhyeon.
Visit the Siji Branch website here (sorry, no English) to see products, prices,
and news, or to shop online. For more about the company itself, visit http://www.choroki.com/.