The farmers market in Peckham is cheaper than Borough (unsurprisingly) but still has nice stuff, if less speciality stalls. Well worth a visit on a sunday morning - but you have to get there before about 11.30 or half the stalls are bare due to hungry peckhamites...
I think the answer is to be selective about which stalls you shop at. Some items are expensive and justifiably so - others are just expensive. Yet others are not expensive. So dont buy your veg from Turnips, buy from one of the other just-as-good stalls with more reasonable prices - there are several. You can find stuff cheaper than supermarkets. You can find stuff a little more expensive but fantastic quality and well worth the price. And if you find stuff thats just taking the p*ss with its prices - well dont buy it.
The main thing for me thats missing at a reasonable price is good ordinary bread - sorry, just not prepared to pay £3 a loaf. But not pepared to eat grot either - so bought a breadmaker for the price of 3 Borough Market loaves and make my own now.
The Turkish place not in SE1 down the Walworth road near Iceland makes great fresh bread , but I also had a breadmaker which made a pretty good loaf, plus the bonus of the smell of fresh baking, worth a lot I should say.
I saw a quite shocking report on TV recently, that listed the health problems suffered by the residents of one particular area of Scotland. They ate a really poor diet with little fresh stuff - they said they would like to eat well, but couldn't afford it.
If you're happy to spend time getting and preparing food, it is possible to eat healthily and cheaply.
Local markets are usually among the cheapest places to get fresh veg - with the exception of Borough which is fast becoming the Harvey Nichols of markets.
But assuming you don't have much time (for example if you have a big family and you shop in supermarkets) it does tend to be cheaper to buy unhealthy food. Iceland regularly TV-advertises deals whereby for £5 you can buy enough cakes and chicken nuggets to feed several military units. Compare this to the cost of a few bell peppers in the organic section.
I'd like this situation to be reversed but it's tricky figuring out how to legislate for such change (any ideas, legal bods?) Ideally food manufacturers should be encouraged to make their products more healthy and organic foods should get some sort of tax break so that they're no longer seen as a premium product.
It always amazes me when I hear people say that they don't have time to cook fresh food. A friend told me a story of how, on an all-inclusive holiday, a family of fellow guests took exception to the food that was on offer, this being something that they had already paid for and, I'm assured, offered lots of variety. It wasn't good enough for them, so they took themselves off to Burger King three times a day. We also had a recent thread regarding those Iceland chickens, it was around the same time as that Asian bird flu outbreak, which served well to remind us how cheap "convenience" food gets on our plates.
You're famous! (Well, slightly). Extracts from this thread have appeared in the Paperclips (press cuttings) section of the Gazette, the weekly internal magazine of the John Lewis Partnership, with a large feature quote too.
These moaning loft-dwelling SE1 residents do not deserve one of your stores - keep them lugging their groceries along the Jubilee line from Canary Wharf and/or forcing them into the Elephant Tesco "the horror, the horrror...."
Please open somewhere south of the river where the middle-classes' property prices are more in need of reinforcement should interest rates increase.