Fresh Food Markets in South East Asia

If there’s one thing that most people don’t do well in developed countries like Australia, it’s embracing the glory of fresh food, straight from the ground. As a nation, we eat so much frozen, shrink-wrapped, boxed and over-packaged products from supermarkets that we forget what proper, fresh, straight-from-the-source food tastes like.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this myself. I live in a highly urban area, I work full time, and week-to-week, I don’t have the time to travel out of my way to go to a Farmer’s Market and buy my groceries straight from the source. I do what I can in trying to cut down my consumption of processed foods, but sometimes my love of pre-cut pre-seasoned potato wedges outweighs any ‘food miles’ ethics.

I really enjoyed experiencing the complete opposite lifestyle while I was travelling through South East Asia in December. The streets of Vietnam in particular, were particularly full of small farmers selling their home-grown produce.


Aren’t the colours vibrant and the produce fresh? Walking through the market district of any Vietnamese city or town is a real delight, as you get confronted with the smells and sounds of housewives haggling over the cost of fresh produce for their evening meal.

You see butchers selling hunks of meat straight off a concrete slab, perhaps slaughtering a chicken right in front of you. You see a lady with a cage full of live frogs, decapitating and skinning them in one easy five second motion. You discover new produce that you wouldn’t normally find at home. It’s the type of really tangible and real market shopping that is very hard to find in Australia.


K and I have tried to replicate some of the delicious fresh Vietnamese dishes that we had while we were overseas. We feel particularly virtuous and healthy when we make ourselves a Vietnamese salad, with a mix of fresh herbs, lettuce, bean sprouts, chillis and vermicelli noodles, with a squeeze of lime juice and fish sauce as a dressing. All fresh produce Рbut not the same quality as the produce we saw in Vietnam. We have a while to go before we reach that pinnacle of fresh healthy eating exemplified by the Vietnamese!

Are you more of a fresh food eater, or a processed food consumer? How do you reconcile your food ethics with your lifestyle?

5 thoughts on “Fresh Food Markets in South East Asia”

  1. We were just talking about on the weekend over a lunch. The more connected you are to the food, the more you appreciate it, particularly when you eat meat. I have found Asian markets so interesting and in some cases, it can be confronting at first :)

  2. I’ve recently come back from Bali and felt this way about the markets there. The produce was so fresh and the dishes made with it so delicious. I tried to replicate some of the dishes when I got home but they’re not quite the same. I love Vietnamese food and can’t wait to visit at some stage…funny I have a vietnamese salad on my blog..can’t get enough of it at the moment!

  3. It is very refreshing to see how SE Asia do their markets in comparison to here in Aus. It is very easy to feel completely disconnected from how we get our food when everything comes pre washed, pre chopped and plastic bagged as well as being bloodless, skinless and boneless when it comes to meat – it tends to feel a little too clinical for my liking sometimes, however I must admit for me the tradeoff would be the hygiene aspect.. I suppose its the sort of feeling that’s encouraged in Aus because obviously so many people eat from those sorts of markets all over the world and are fine, but I just think about stuff like air and insect exposure, temperatures and the cleanliness of water that is used to wash their produce/meat/etc. I’m probably too squeamish for my own good, haha.

  4. Asian food is every bit as diverse as it is delicious. I used to think that I knew Asian foods growing up. You see, we used to go out to Chinese and practically every weekend. They were a couple Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood, and they were perfect for us kids. They were greasy, flavorful, and we got a cookie at the end of every meal. What more could a child ask for?

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