2

votes

Food Racism: Veggies at Asian Grocery just as good as regular supermarket?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 25, 2013 at 8:59 PM

As I wrote the subject, I realize how this must sound, so pardon me in advance in case I offend anyone, but:

I live in Philadelphia.

Perhaps because the Asian Grocery sells scary things that are foreign to me (like pig snout, chicken feet, cow hooves, etc.),

or perhaps because I have the perhaps unjustified perception that the hygiene standards are as strict as Whole Foods Supermarkets,

or perhaps because I generally avoid products imported from China for a bunch of obvious reasons,

I'm wondering if purchasing:

carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, bagged spinach, would these be any worse than buying conventional produce at a chain supermarket?

Are veggies sold in Asian grocery stores any more likely to be imported from Asian than a regular supermarket?

I suppose that with increased globalization, fruit & veggies come from all over, year round.

Thanks for any thoughts on this matter,

Mike

PS: the prices at the asian grocery are substantially cheaper than regular supermarkets.

2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

(1533)

on March 02, 2013
at 10:09 PM

my pleasure really, couldnt be happier with life :)

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:47 AM

I so miss the Asian groceries in San Francisco since moving to the mid-Atlantic states!

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:22 AM

I wanted to raise awareness not criticize the OP.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:20 AM

I understand the OP's concerns. I share the same concerns myself. But the image being portrayed with his word choice was perpetrating the stereotype in my opinion. It's a sensitive topic. I edited my post. Thanks.

90bcfafd2ef73fea5398c483c593349e

(872)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:08 AM

We can't really blame the OP for being a bit wary of the possibility of food products being imported from Asia given news stories in recent years. It's a shame how our media contributes to mild forms of xenophobia such as this, but this is really not something to lambast the OP over. Let's just rave about the high quality and low prices at Asian markets!

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 26, 2013
at 02:24 AM

The Bay Area is right by Salinas and Watsonville. Quality local produce is the norm.

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f

(4238)

on February 26, 2013
at 01:41 AM

I'm a transplant from the Bay Area in California, which is thick with awesome Asian grocery goodness, and I have to say that I have never once been chased out of anywhere with a butcher knife no matter what questions I asked. I doubt you have to worry on that score.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 25, 2013
at 11:05 PM

Just ask, where does your produce come from. It is not racist, I ask that at every grocery

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:52 PM

@CD the answer about the "smallish" asian grocery buying from the USA was what I was hoping it would all be like. I'm reluctant to start asking the country of origin at the asian grocery because I don't want to be viewed as a food racist. I'm already a bit out of my comfort zone just walking in the door. I don't want people chasing me out with a butchers' knife!

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:49 PM

Thank you @jessica for being a food producer. It's nice to place a name on food (e.g. jessica) other than monsanto !

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:47 PM

@Crowbar: my other 'similar' question was geared more towards chicken feat and poultry. What I was hoping to get out of this veggie question is basically that an avocado grown in mexico is no different, whether it is sold at whole foods vs. the asian grocery (assuming non-organic)

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8 Answers

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3
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:27 PM

There is a smallish Asian Grocery by my house. I have gotten to know the owners, and they have always been open about their sources. Turns out, most of their produce comes from local mid-atlantic farms. They said it costs too much to import the produce. I shop there all the time.

There is a large, multi-chain Asian Grocery by my house. When I go there and ask the manager where the produce is from, he yelled at me. I asked one of the stock guys and he told me mostly "over seas" or from the same place as the big groceries (language barrier was tough). I don't shop there anymore.

My rule of thumb, and this applies to all groceries, if they are willing to be open about their produce and I approve of the origin, then I will shop without qualms. If they refuse to answer my questions, I refuse to patronize. Ask, see what they tell you.

Also, the prices are typically cheaper because they cannot gouge their customers the way the big shops can.

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:52 PM

@CD the answer about the "smallish" asian grocery buying from the USA was what I was hoping it would all be like. I'm reluctant to start asking the country of origin at the asian grocery because I don't want to be viewed as a food racist. I'm already a bit out of my comfort zone just walking in the door. I don't want people chasing me out with a butchers' knife!

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 25, 2013
at 11:05 PM

Just ask, where does your produce come from. It is not racist, I ask that at every grocery

Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 26, 2013
at 02:24 AM

The Bay Area is right by Salinas and Watsonville. Quality local produce is the norm.

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f

(4238)

on February 26, 2013
at 01:41 AM

I'm a transplant from the Bay Area in California, which is thick with awesome Asian grocery goodness, and I have to say that I have never once been chased out of anywhere with a butcher knife no matter what questions I asked. I doubt you have to worry on that score.

5
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on February 25, 2013
at 09:15 PM

I shop at Asian markets regularly. Like any store, they will buy the cheapest, easiest produce. I doubt the ones near you import foods from China that other markets wouldn't, e.g. actual Asian specialty fruits or vegetables. They likely get most of theirs from the US or South America, just like Whole Foods. That being said, wash them when you get home, there is special veggie and fruit washing soap.

Since you have already asked a similar question, and I don't doubt you'll get similar answers, then if this set of answers doesn't mollify you, nothing will, and you should not shop at Asian stores.

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:47 PM

@Crowbar: my other 'similar' question was geared more towards chicken feat and poultry. What I was hoping to get out of this veggie question is basically that an avocado grown in mexico is no different, whether it is sold at whole foods vs. the asian grocery (assuming non-organic)

2
92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

on February 26, 2013
at 04:17 AM

There is no need to use the word "racism" in the title.

All foods sold in the United States undergo the same safety regulatory regime. Asian grocers generally provide cheaper and fresher products because they source them more directly with fewer middle-men. Especially in the seafood department, Asian grocers tend to offer cheaper, fresher options.

90bcfafd2ef73fea5398c483c593349e

(872)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:08 AM

We can't really blame the OP for being a bit wary of the possibility of food products being imported from Asia given news stories in recent years. It's a shame how our media contributes to mild forms of xenophobia such as this, but this is really not something to lambast the OP over. Let's just rave about the high quality and low prices at Asian markets!

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:22 AM

I wanted to raise awareness not criticize the OP.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:20 AM

I understand the OP's concerns. I share the same concerns myself. But the image being portrayed with his word choice was perpetrating the stereotype in my opinion. It's a sensitive topic. I edited my post. Thanks.

2
2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

on February 25, 2013
at 09:16 PM

the only reason i snob produce at the asian food store is because i want to know A. that its organic and B. its country of origin, i want to buy regional food as much as possible, i wont buy produce from out of the country. i have yet to see an asian food store stock any organic produce, but i havent lived in towns with high enough populations for that to happen. the reason i snob whole foods is because i worked for that company for 5 years. their mark up is ridiculous! i would much rather buy produce from a local co-op, its generally the same, if not lower, priced. also youve got to know i work as a seasonal farmer now, so i keep my standards high. i want to support people like me, who love the land and want you, your family, your environment and your community to be healthy viable places to l ive and love :)!

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on February 25, 2013
at 09:49 PM

Thank you @jessica for being a food producer. It's nice to place a name on food (e.g. jessica) other than monsanto !

2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

(1533)

on March 02, 2013
at 10:09 PM

my pleasure really, couldnt be happier with life :)

1
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:27 AM

I'm not certain of the source, but the produce I buy in my local, Northern California Asian market is the freshest stuff I've ever seen. It must be grown locally, no way this traveled any distance, though I doubt it's organic. We live where it's feasible to grow this stuff year round. The store is a tiny hole in the wall crowded with merchandise, and very inexpensive. I'm not brave enough to try the meat or fish, but produce looks so good it's irresistible. And, they carry Red Boat fish sauce!

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on February 26, 2013
at 05:47 AM

I so miss the Asian groceries in San Francisco since moving to the mid-Atlantic states!

1
90bcfafd2ef73fea5398c483c593349e

on February 26, 2013
at 05:20 AM

I absolutely love the produce at my nearby Asian markets. Depending on where you live, specialty types of produce that wouldn't be found at mainstream markets will often be grown by local Asian farmers or non-Asian farmers that grow niche produce to cater to local demand. More "ordinary" items like green bell peppers and bananas at your Asian market almost certainly come from the same sources your "regular" grocery store would use. If you're already buying non-organic produce for budgetary reasons, go ahead and have fun in the produce section of your local Asian market. I particularly recommend experimenting with all the lovely greens...

Sidebar: I got to chatting with the manager of my local Asian market and asked him about the meat they carry. I had to know why it was 40-60% off the prices I'd find at the larger chains. As it happens, they are forced to use the same distributors as the big boys so the meat is the same. They just choose not to mark it up as much as a service to their customers. I couldn't believe it! Even though it's not pastured or organic meat, this underpaid lady was so happy to be able to afford beef again! (Just be prepared for the cuts to look a little different than you're used to seeing.)

Have fun, experiment, and don't forget to check out the spices/seasoning section.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on February 26, 2013
at 02:29 AM

There is an Asian (Korean) market near me and I go there often. The produce is great, cheap, with much more variety than any other grocery store I have been to. The variety includes just variations of each fruit or vegetable (such as 5 kinds of pears or 10 kinds of mushrooms) but semi-prepared options (such as peeled garlic by the cup, pint, of quart).

The prices are very cheap so that I can pay half or a quarter as much as Whole Paycheck or other grocers.

There are not as many organic options, and I find that the produce doesn't last as long sitting on my counter or in the fridge, so I suspect that they buy relatively cheap stuff that is closer to its expiration date. However if you use it within a day or two then it is fine and a good way to save money.

An Asian market doesn't import its goods from an Asian country, more likely they are buying the same stuff slightly differently and operating on a thinner margin, counting on the regular customers to turn over inventory faster (like Costco).

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on February 26, 2013
at 02:20 AM

I used to shop the Italian green grocers in Chicago. The produce had a reputation of having fallen off the truck, and you had to pick and choose a lot. I also spent a lot of time in produce terminals, looking at the condition of produce coming from 1000-2000 miles away. Some of it looked like it had been run over by a truck, and I'm sure those cases were wholesaled accordingly.

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