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Friday, 31 January 2014

Wet Markets

Wet markets are known as places where housewives go to buy their daily groceries, where restaurants can purchase produce straight from the farm, where the fish is freshest from the fishermen. Wet markets are called "pasar basah". A similar concept is the "pasar tani", or farmer's market. One of the top reason why people visit these wet markets is for freshness of grocery produce. They believe that these products are sourced directly from fishermen and farmers, and will make delicious meals. Another benefit of these wet markets are the bargains that can be gotten if one is good at bargaining. (Yes, you have to be able to bargain to get a good bargain...) If you aren't good at bargaining, perhaps you'd better look for a stall that has many ladies queueing up to buy its offerings, as sellers often offer the same price to people who stand beside their last last customer. (If a housewife just saw the seller sell something for RM4.00 per kilo, it wouldn't make sense for him to offer her the same thing for RM4.50 per kilo.)

However, wet markets are not without their dangers. One of these is a certain lack of accountability. As these traders operate on a personal basis, and these markets operate on a once-a-week schedule, it is unlikely that you would pinpoint them if the produce were unfresh or caused food poisoning. This is unlike buying produce from a supermarket or a hypermarket (or even the chain grocery stores that are popping up all over town), where they are operated by registered companies that you can sue in the event that you suffer from food poisoning. In addition, you are unable to insist on a receipt from a wet market trader. In contrast, you'd get one when you shop at the hypermarkets. Lastly, the quality of produce may vary from trader to trader as they all have their individual ways and means of transporting and storing produce. Some may be of good quality, but be aware that lousy traders also lurk inconspicuously in the throng.

My mom normally goes to the wet market for fish, vegetables and fruits. For imported produce, supermarkets and hypermarkets such as TESCO or JUSCO may be a better alternative as they have set up their supply chain and refined its processes over the years.