New year, new habits

Categories: Features

Five good habits for the decade ahead

The highly specific resolutions that many of us make as January rolls around tend to endure for about as much time as the New Year’s Day hangover. But the dawning of a new decade is as good a time as any to think about embedding new habits for the months and years to come. Here are five. All of them quite shamelessly encourage you to come to Borough Market, but the same messages apply regardless of where you might choose to shop.

Cook more meals from scratch
Cooking more meals from scratch is an admirable aspiration—the healthiest and most satisfying dinners tend to be those in which fresh ingredients are seasoned with a hearty sprinkling of personal endeavour—but extending the repertoire requires motivation, confidence and inspiration. Shopping at a food market is a good start—it’s hard not to feel inspired by displays of fresh, seasonal produce, and the traders can offer a deep well of ideas and advice, as well as beautiful ingredients. This website, with its vast repository of recipes, is also well worth exploring. And, for a guaranteed boost to your inspiration levels, Borough Market’s Cookbook Club offers the chance to become part of a community whose members gather each month to share the experience of cooking new recipes and in doing so, help each other become more rounded and confident cooks.

Learn new skills
Borough Market offers plenty of opportunities for extending your culinary skills. Oliveology collaborates with a stellar cast of food and wine experts to lay on workshops and masterclasses themed around Greek cuisine—in February, learn about Greek stews and soups, while a session in March explores the craft of pie-making, Hellenic-style. Arabica runs meze masterclasses is The Cookhouse, and the ham school at Brindisa will teach you all you need to know about jamón. Bread Ahead’s Cathedral Street cookery school covers everything from sourdough bread to croissants, Middle Eastern flatbreads to New York bagels. Next door, the Ginger Pig butchery school will teach you how to break down a carcass or make top-notch sausages. Mimo runs cookery classes devoted to a wide variety of styles, including Basque pintxos, Spanish tapas, modern British cuisine and Sunday roasts. Look out for Mimo’s Best of Borough Market classes, which begin with a stroll around the Market to meet producers and select seasonal produce and end with you turning those ingredients into an impressive multi-course menu.

Ginger Pig butchery school

Eat with the seasons
One of the best ways to bring variety and excitement to your diet is to eat seasonally. That doesn’t mean only buying British produce—for example, the arrival each winter of Spanish blood oranges and Italian bitter leaves brings colour and character to the colder months—but it does mean making the most of ingredients when they are at their best and shifting your shopping list accordingly. Enjoy the ebb and flow of the Market’s offering, revel in how much better fruit and vegetables taste when they’ve not been grown in polytunnels or ripened with gasses, enjoy the falling prices as seasonal gluts swell and take inspiration from the here and now rather than making the same dishes all year round.

Cut down on plastic
Visiting the Market offers some respite from the barrage of plastic that continues to blight the food sector and cause havoc to the environment. Single-use plastic bottles are no longer sold anywhere on the Borough estate and our three water fountains last year supplied a volume equivalent to 1,750 standard bottles per day—a fourth is on its way this year. Most of the produce sold by our traders (including granola!) is sold loose—an approach that reduces food waste as well as cutting down on packaging—and many stalls actively encourage customers to bring their own bags, cups, cutlery and containers. At Juma Kitchen in The Borough Market Kitchen, for example, you’ll get a discount on your lunch for bringing your own box. You’ll find Black + Blum’s stylish stainless steel lunchboxes at The Borough Market Store, as well as reusable bottles, sturdy bags and wax wrap from Bermondsey Street Bees—a planet-friendly alternative to clingfilm, made using beeswax-infused cotton.

Support small businesses
A market isn’t just a source of good food; it is a vital cog in the economy and a bastion of human interaction. Borough Market is home to well over 100 small, independent businesses, all run by entrepreneurs who pour their heart and soul into what they do. Those that aren’t producers themselves are, in turn, supportive of a vast network of specialist producers from all over the world. Some of the traders, like Luminary Bakery and Change Please, are social enterprises that offer employment and training to those with the fewest opportunities. So, by buying a larger proportion of your food from small businesses like these, you are doing a favour not just to your palate but to society as a whole, providing a lifeline for small businesses operating in an economy that’s increasingly geared towards the large and the impersonal. And if your schedule means that coming in person is not always possible, you can still support those same independent traders by using the delivery and click and collect services of Borough Market Online.