market

By Lauren Bravo

In preparation for Love Your Local Market fortnight, which kicks off on 14 May, we’ve been thinking about all the reasons there are to buy your bread and groceries in the great outdoors.

Prices might not be as low as they are in supermarkets, but you can’t quibble with the freshness or the range of the bread – and artisan loaves tends to last for longer than their supermarket equivalents too, so you’ll waste less. Markets also offer plenty of opportunities to bag a good deal, especially if you go towards the end of the day or try your hand at haggling.

Then there’s the atmosphere. Even if you can’t guarantee traders will be singing and high-kicking their way through a rendition of “Who Will Buy” from Oliver! (we’ve asked, sorry), it’s hard to deny the charms of market life.

market

Getting up close and personal with your bread makes for a much more satisfying weekly shop, and the opportunity to taste before you buy means there’s no need to be afraid of branching out beyond your usual white or brown. If you’ve never tried olive sourdough, or need tips on which toppings go best with a slice of rye and pumpernickel, bread-loving stallholders are on hand to enlighten you. They may even inspire you to get baking at home, and that’s the dream. It’s never as hard as you think, especially if you start with Jamie’s simple bread recipe.

Our markets manager Tara agrees that you can’t underestimate the benefits of personal service. “At a market, you’re often able to talk directly to the producer – this means you can ask questions and find out more about the provenance of your bread,” she says.

“Farmers’ markets are also brilliant for their local communities, bringing people together and providing a meeting place for friends and like-minded foodies,” which, aside from the times you awkwardly bump into the same distant acquaintance in every aisle, you can’t really say about supermarkets.

Not to forget the green kudos either. Buying direct from producers also means you save on all that excess plastic packaging, and your purchases will have racked up far fewer food miles – we can’t promise that will absolve the guilt of having a second Chelsea bun, but it helps.

“Ultimately though, it all comes down to taste,” says Tara. “And whether it’s down to artisanal quality or the fresh air, bread from a market stall just tends to taste better.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

Flour Station

About the author

The Flour Station grew out of the basement of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant. We soon ran out of space and branched out to our own bakery premises. Not long after that, we set up our first stall at Borough Market and since then we’ve been baking our delicious sourdough breads for top notch café, delis and restaurants across London as well as our weekly market stalls. We’re firm believers in doing things the old fashioned slow way when it comes to making our breads. Each one has a natural yeast starter and the dough is given all the time it needs to develop its wonderful texture and flavour, which may mean the best part of a whole day. Once ready, the dough is divided and shaped by hand and baked in a stone based oven. This intricate process produces a sensational loaf with a good crust, a tasty crumb and a depth of flavour and texture unparalleled in conventional bread. We share our passion for real bread with top chefs and a loyal band of customers who return week after week to our market stalls. We draw inspiration from both when it comes to developing new breads, experimenting with new ingredients and new ideas as well as resurrecting forgotten classic British bakery favourites. Through this blog we hope to share with you the ups and downs, highs and lows, questions and answers that come our way whilst we continue to bake our lovely breads.

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