Tamara Strijbos

Interview with Tamara Strijbos from “Eten zonder streken”

Hey my name is Bruno and this year I am part of the promotion team of Go Green Office! I have had an interview with Tamara Strijbos who owns a local vegetarian food shop in Eindhoven called “Eten zonder streken”. I came across her shop while surfing the web, since I was working on the three pillars of good food. As a recap, our three pillars of good food are: 1. Green, 2. healthy and 3. fair. The social media of “Eten zonder streken” appealed very promisingly, so I decided to pass by the shop, to see whether this shop is consistent with the three pillars of good food.

My experience started the moment I was cycling towards the shop. I came across the imposing Phillips Station in order to get there. Thereafter I parked my bike and entered a small, cozy-looking shop. The moment I came in, a bell started rinkeling and a woman appeared. Tamara Strijbos, the owner of the shop. I asked her whether she was willing to let me conduct an interview with her. She was very open for this so we started right away! 

“I started this (pure) local shop already 6 years ago.” “And since 2 years I have been located at the Frederiklaan 75 in Eindhoven.“ The building in which Eten zonder streken is located used to be the first Estos of Eindhoven and has been a Phillips shop in the past. This was an interesting fact to start off the interview. Afterwards Tamara started telling about her motivation behind her local shop. 

The first 4 years she slaughtered animals for biological meat in her shop. However, since two years she stopped selling any meat and became a 100% vegetarian shop. Her motivation for this was the harm and disgrace she had seen at the abattoir. The animals she used to sell had a very good life and had the possibility to live outside with enough freedom of movement. However, she could not carry the ethical responsibility of what happened with the animals in the last moments of their lives. “The trip towards the abattoir and the proceedings there, are just too stressful for those animals”. She said. 

Not selling any meat was a big step for her, since she used to be a food technologist and qualified cook. That is why she always thought that the taste of meat was indispensable, especially when eating broth.  Animal welfare is the most important banner in her local shop. Besides that, almost everything is local and if not, at least 100% vegetarian.

Animal welfare directly becomes visual when talking about her products. For example, the cheese she sells is made out of calves which are allowed to stay with their mother for 4 months. Normally, a calf will be taken away from their mother already after 2 weeks… The animal welfare is also visual in the eggs she sells. Tamara visited all chicken farmers to see which chickens had the best living environment. The ones she chose for a chicken farm were the chickes which got feeded by their farmer via spreading locally made (not from southern Europe) grain over the floor. Furthermore, the farmer has a covered terrace, which is important because the chickens that walk outside are very vulnerable to the bird flu. This disease returns every year and is not yet under control. “I am convinced that a covered outdoor area with a lot of light is good for the chickens.” Tamara said. 

When examining the three pillars of good food, green is already covered. This is basically the principle behind all products in the shop. Then I was interested about her view on the pillar fair. “I find it difficult to talk about fair trade, I just make sure that I buy as much as possible directly from the farmers.” “I prevent intermediaries, since I think it is a pity if the money ends up there”. Moreover, she thinks it is difficult to determine when something is traded ‘fair’. In her opinion: “The further away a product, the less transparent the proces, even with a fair trade certification.” She has experienced this herself as well, while working in a biological wholesale. For her, fair trade is buying products directly from the farmer. 

Then the pillar health, Tamara has been a food technologist and has developed supermarket food for 15 years. In her experience a lot of rubbish / raw materials are added in supermarkets. “Of course they have a functional property, however, I don’t believe this is always healthy.” In her shop, she minimizes flavor enhancers to one. So also this pillar is satisfied in this shop. 

Then I asked if I could conclude that she had seen a lot of things with her own eyes during her career so far. And that this shop is sort of a representation of her own norms and values she developed by this. “Yes indeed, I formed my own ethics.”

Finally I asked her what her message towards students is concerning the food topic. “I hope the new generation will experiment more with vegetarian cooking, try to consume as little meat as possible.” Currently, she thinks eating animals is not healthy anymore. Especially when looking at what animals eat so we humans eat indirectly as well. She understands it might be difficult for students to cook because they are on a budget. Therefore she advises to buy your food directly from the farm. 

Moreover, she would stimulate the students to really try to see the value of the food. Currently we are living in a world where we consume a lot. We don’t dwell upon the way a product has traveled to arrive here. “If we want to respect this world, we must be interested in what we do.” “Respect everything you use.”

Eventually I decided to buy two of her handmade vegetarian hamburgers. The moment I gave her a small tip to thank her and show respect for her business, she thankfully said “This I will send to charity called PETA”. Then I thought, “We have come full circle.” 🙂 The weekend later I made a delicious meal with the burgers which I will share with you real soon! Stay tuned!!!