Bright futures

Categories: News and previews

The traders in Borough Market’s Food Futures programme offer fresh ideas about sustainability, health, waste minimisation and local production. Three of the current contingent explain their products and the philosophy that underpins them

Dan Pearce, co-founder of Jake’s Boost
The idea for Jake’s Boost came about a few years ago, when my business partner Ansje went to the USA for the first time. There she discovered almond butter, as well as other nut and seed butters, which you couldn’t really get in the UK at the time. At the time, we both had full time jobs working in the media but we had often talked about starting a business together. The idea started percolating in the back of our minds.

We are both into our fitness and food, so we wanted to create a product that was natural and free from added sugar and salt, which is something we’d struggled to find. Everything we make has the same ethos: natural, tasty and healthy. We call it Jake’s Boost because it’s a boost of energy and nutrients, but that won’t give you that horrible crash you get when you eat something high in sugar and carbs.

We make all the products ourselves, by hand. We have an organic certified production facility in Reigate. The glass jars are recycled and recyclable; our new labels are biodegradable, made from cane fibre and linen. We can now say there’s no added sugar in the spreads, but there is in the label! Because everything is organic, it has to be traceable—all our ingredients are from good, ethical organic wholesalers. We want to do everything in the right way: look after the people who work with us, look after the environment and make products of the highest quality.

Borough Market is probably the most famous food market in London and it’s a place I always recommend to people when they are visiting the city for the first time. We had done a four-day event with Borough previously, so when we heard about the return of Food Futures in the run-up to Christmas, it was something we definitely wanted to do. So far, customers have been very engaged. All of us here believe the future of food is about moving away from big brands and pre-packaged food towards products that are good for people and the planet.

Mira Lasfar, co-founder of HÔRIA Vegan 
I am a French pastry chef. I moved to London two years ago. After becoming vegan, eggs and butter were against my new lifestyle, so I ran away from traditional baking in professional kitchens and learnt a new way of making cakes. After one year of experimentation, I decided to set up HÔRIA and start offering my creations to the vegan community.

The most important thing to know is that non-vegan cakes don’t necessarily taste better than vegan ones. Yes, eggs can help a cake become fluffier, but you can easily replace them with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, depending on the recipe. Behind each of my recipes there is a lot of experimentation. It took many long hours in the kitchen, often staring at the oven with my fingers crossed. My first batch of brownies was a huge failure, but over time I have managed to make them better and better—this year, my brownies won a Great Taste Award.

With the Food Futures market, Borough is giving the next generation of traders a chance to showcase their products. Before making any business decisions about HÔRIA, I make sure it is sustainable, environmentally friendly and that it aligns with my values as a vegan. I choose my suppliers carefully and I try to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible, even getting public transport to markets wherever possible. We care about animal welfare, sustainability and minimising waste. Joining the Food Futures Market at Borough felt like a natural step to take.

Dewi Cortier-Agrawal, co-founder of Oh Lily!
Oh Lily! is a range of sweet and savoury snacks made from popped water lily seeds—yes you heard that right, water lily seeds! We started the brand after a trip to India that I made with my sister and business partner Govinda, where we rediscovered the power of water lily seeds, an ancient super-seed used in ayurvedic medicine. They really surprise your taste buds with their crunchy texture. We saw a gap in the market for a snack that’s crunchy, tasty and good for you at the same time.

We now have six flavours, which reflect the different parts of the world we’ve visited: Parisian Kiss (70 per cent dark chocolate and raspberry), Indian Gold (turmeric) and Japanese Treasure (70 per cent dark chocolate and matcha green tea). Govinda comes up with the recipes—she is nicknamed ‘the food artist’.

We used to visit Borough Market as foodie tourists from Paris. We met David Matchett, the head of food policy development, during a food festival in Brighton and he was very surprised by the novelty of our product—and convinced by the taste! It was an honour for us to trade for the first time in May at this globally recognised market. It’s an excellent recognition for Oh Lily!

We promote a ‘conscious’ lifestyle: we want people to know what they eat, where it comes from and who it is made by. Our snacks also come in eco-friendly packaging, so our whole ethos is very much aligned with that of the Market.