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Buying Local in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is dotted with wet markets, which not only are a huge part of it's culture but also provide the perfect conditions to shop plastic free on the consumer end. They are frequented most by elderly people and those with lower incomes, but I hope that with the rise of sustainability more people will see not only the necessity to support the local economy but also how easy they make certain aspects of low waste living. In other words, buying loose produce in Hong Kong is accessible and easy, what isn't however is buying local.

Because of its size, Hong Kong lacks a large variety of locally grown food, produce and animal products alike. Though there are farms around Hong Kong, namely in the New Territories, the current agricultural systems they use don't produce enough food to sustain our population. In a region that relies heavily on imported food, discussing the sustainability aspect of food miles and eating local can be complicated. It wasn't until recently that even I really started to look into it. However, it isn't impossible, and most of us can certainly do better (there is no perfect in this scenario).

Buying from wet markets is one way to make this a bit easier. Most things are labelled, and if not simply ask about where the product is from. In our local market we stick to around 3 stalls, two of which support local farms (one organic) and the other which has fruits (not frequently grown here). I personally have a looser definition for local when it comes to Hong Kong, I focus on produce mainly from here and china, with some from nearby asian countries. I try to buy as local as possible, but we live in a house of six and shop for other people’s dietary choices so it's a bit more of a struggle.

To give you an idea about the possible variety here are items we generally buy (with other purchases here and there). The produce we get from Hong Kong farms are potatoes, cucumber, leafy greens (bok choi, spinach, watercress, pea shoot etc), cauliflower, cabbage, onion, garlic, and ginger. The produce we get from china are broccoli, cherry tomatoes, apples, grapes, and mandarins. We get carrots from Australia, banana and pineapple from the Philippines, mango from Thailand, avocado's from Mexico (I don't buy them), and celery, bell peppers, and lemons from places unknown to me - though now that I'm writing this I will definitely ask!

I'm pretty happy with that balance between local and overseas. We try to buy as many dry ingredients as possible but it's not always as much as I would like. We buy noodles, rice, sugar, beans, and you can also get nuts and teas. We are far from perfect, but unfortunately it’s simply a reality of living in Hong Kong and not eating an entirely local diet. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more innovative ideas about how we can cultivate food in such a small space, for example rooftop gardens and hydroponics. You can also get great organic food grown in China delivered plastic free from Magic Seasons Organic. In the meantime, do what you can and be concious with what you buy!

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