Wet market

Wet market

A wet market is generally an open food market. Some of the common names include "Cultural Markets", "traditional markets", "Gaai Si", "Gaai See"Wordie, Jason. [2002] (2002) Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-2095631] .


The floors and surroundings are often routinely sprayed and washed with water—to the extent of flooding it at frequent intervals—which gave it the name "wet market".


The main characteristics of the market have traditionally been associated with a place that sells live animals out in the open. The collection may include poultry, fish, reptiles, and pigs. Depending on the region, animals are usually caged and killed for live preparation. Freshly imported fruits and vegetables are also available. Wet market generally combine butcher shops and fish markets in the vicinity. The higher hygiene standards of supermarkets have forced many wet markets to operate indoors.

Wet market vs supermarket

Supermarkets have become heavily industrialized, often using chemicals and other preservatives to mass produce and package for longer shelf life. Wet market products are generally stored for short periods of time and are always expected to be fresh.

For some customers, it is important to see the animal live before being sold. Specifically, they may want to check for health condition and quality. This is generally not an option in supermarkets, except in lobster or fish booths. Most wet markets have facilities for allowing a customer to choose a live animal, then either take it home as is or watch it expertly killed and "cleaned"—gutted, etc.—before their very eyes. Some big-box stores, such as Walmart, provide these facilities in their Far Eastern stores, but not in their U.S. stores. [Source: "Newsweek," early 2000's, date unknown]


Animal cruelty

In many cultures, freshness is desired over frozen foods. Because of this, animals are often caged in tiny sections of stores. The slaughter and butchering has historically been performed in front of customers upon request. The image of butcher shops filled with blood and animal organs dangling in a gruesome fashion has been heavily criticized in many countries. The sound of animals expiring during the execution process is disturbing if not contained, though live-slaughter processes are virtually non-existent in modernized wet markets.


If sanitation standards are not maintained, wet markets can easily spread disease and viruses. Because of the openness, newly introduced animals may come in direct contact with sales clerks, butchers and customers. Insects such as flies have relatively easy access to the food products.


Depending on the country, food administration groups may or may not require licensing to sell food in the markets. There is usually no return policy. If stale products are sold, liabilities vary greatly depending on how the government manages it.

ee also

* Asian supermarket
* Pasar pagi
* Pasar malam
* farmer's market



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