Few institutions have tracked the English population’s changing attitudes to food as the traditional market. Once a shop window for local farmers, the markets were left with second-best food quality as local farmers sold to supermarkets. At least the food was cheap. Popular demand for tasty, local and international food since the 1990s has propelled the growth of farmers’ markets in city centres, suburbs and countryside. Now the food on offer tastes good but has a price to match.
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Borough Market, London
Borough Market, situated under arches at London Bridge railway station, is London’s foremost food delight for locals, office workers and tourists. The market has been on its present site for over 255 years, mostly as a wholesale centre. Its transformation into a retail market began in the 1990s and has made it a place of pilgrimage for gastronomes. Borough Market offers a great variety of British and international food, from rare breed meat and sea-fresh fish to the fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and wine to go with it.
Winchester Farmers' Market, Hampshire
Savour the best of local produce from watercress to water buffalo at the Winchester Farmers’ Market, the largest farmers’ market in England. It takes place in the shadow of Winchester Cathedral on the second and last Sundays of each month between June and October. All the produce on offer, including Solent crab and ostrich steak, is sourced from Hampshire or within 10 miles of the county border. The market expanded in 2010 to include seating and cookery demonstrations.
Leeds Kirkgate Market, Yorkshire
Just over 200 miles north of London is Leeds Kirkgate Market, Europe’s largest covered market. This market includes all varieties of shopping from jewellery to furniture as well as food. Until the 1970s when the building was damaged by fire, the market sold live chicks, ducklings and goslings for aspiring smallholders. Today, it boasts local foods and world foods. If you like meat, Kirkgate Market’s butchers are considered the best in England.
Orton Farmers' Market, Cumbria
The small village of Orton in Cumbria, northwest England, is host to a monthly farmer’s market on the second Saturday of each month. All the food is sourced from within 50 miles of Orton. From coiled Cumberland sausage and home-brewed cider to lamb and Kendal mint cake, traders on the market must grow and process their own produce.
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