Gone are the days where you could pop down the street to pick up freshly baked bread and some apples from the green grocer in the corner.
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You wouldn’t just be going into the shops to buy what you need, but you’d be checking in with your neighbours, actually talking with the traders and learning more about the products they sell. I live in West London, away from the bustle and hustle of the city centre; it’s full of family homes and kids biking to school every morning, it’s incredibly peaceful, but I absolutely loathe the fact that there is not one single bakery in a 3-mile radius from me. Fear not, I have all the Sainsbury’s, Tesco and McDonald’s you can think of.
Convenience is killing us but there might still be time to turn this ship around.
On June 3rd, 2017, London Bridge and Borough Market were attacked by three terrorists who took the lives of innocent people and injured dozens who were out and about in the city enjoying their Saturday night. You might think, what does this have to do with supporting local? But hear me out. Borough Market is home to an array of incredible, unique and independent traders who offer one of a kind, top-quality products ranging from fresh produce to cooked meals, spices, cheese, honey, meats and everything else you can think of. This market is one of the most celebrated food markets in the world and welcomes millions of tourists and locals every month to feed and inspire their souls.
It’s a beautiful community that comes together to celebrate food and the different cultures that come together in this incredible market. Following the attacks, the market remained closed for 11 days. While those 11 days may not have made any difference to you, they have really affected the traders who have lost over a week of business. On the 14th of June, the market re-opened and it was inundated with people, supporting the market, sharing their time with each other, standing outside pubs and roaming around the stalls doing what people in this city do best- enjoying themselves.
Image courtesy of boroughmarket.org.uk
My love for Borough Market is incredibly complex and hard to put into words. To me, it’s a different world; a world where I fall even more in love with food, where I have discovered incredible new ingredients that I never knew existed and where I have been transported back to my homeland with a mere empanada. Borough Market means so much to me because no matter what kind of day I’m having, I know I can pop down there and I instantly get a rush of excitement. It feels like home.
The love, care and hard work that goes into creating the products and sourcing incredible produce can be smelled in the air. You could spend hours talking to traders about their products and the passion in their eyes is obvious, it’s the smile on their faces as you take a bite of a sample and your eyes close because it tastes so good you might just cry. Heck, I’m crying while writing this. It’s all part of the package when you shop and support your local traders. It’s so much more than stocking your pantry because you are establishing a connection with another human being through food, something that your supermarket can’t and will never be able to offer.
Take Oliveology, a small Greek business that trades at Borough Market and specialises in all Greek produce, from olives and herbs to tomato sauce and incredible organic cold-extracted extra virgin olive oil. Shopping local is not just about supporting them but yourself too. The quality of the olive oil that you get at Oliveology is by far greater than any other brand you could possibly find at a supermarket. Here’s a nugget of knowledge for you – when olive oil is cold extracted from olives, it retains a lot more of its nutrients and taste. The same thing applies to products like honey. If it’s raw and unpasteurised, it means heat hasn’t been applied in the process, the honey comes straight from the beehive, as nature intended. You are much more likely to get the health benefits of eating these items if you are buying good quality products created by people who know their craft inside out.
Image courtesy of oliveology
Next time you are out and about and come across an independent grocer, bakery or even flower shop, go in, have a wander and open yourself to change. If you are a hardcore supermarket lover then think about every single item you are purchasing, where does it come from, how was it made? The more you are aware of it, the more likely you’ll want to shift your habits. Like most lifestyle changes, it’s about giving it a go and trying it for yourself.
Give local shops the love they deserve!
Sources: Pete Scully, Borough Market and oliveology