Loud, colourful, busy and overwhelming, you can find open air local market places all over the world – from Thailand to Turkey to Bolivia. They are filled with local vendors, their stalls stacked high with ripe red tomatoes, juicy oranges, exotic spices, homemade cheeses and much more. Walking through a market is a complete sensory overload, the smells of the fishmonger’s stall competing with the sweetness of ripe fruit and the aroma of spices.
It is 2015 and most destinations you visit will also have a modern supermarket alongside the local market. When it comes to buying food to cook at your hostel, the supermarket can sometimes be the more enticing option. It’s brightly lit, clean, organised and the prices of food are clearly marked – no need to haggle. There’s nothing wrong with shopping at the supermarket – but it is also a good idea to try shopping at the local market at least once- here’s why:
Benefits of Shopping Local On Your Travels
You Are Giving Back to the Community
When you buy strawberries in the supermarket, your money goes to a large corporation. When you buy strawberries from the stall of a little old woman in the market, your money goes to support her family’s farm and keep her in businesses.
It’s Often Cheaper and Better
In many cases I have found that the produce section of the supermarket pales in comparison to the glorious abundance of fruits and vegetables on display at the market. This isn’t always true, but often you will find that the market boasts fresher, riper, juicier and yummier produce than the big chain supermarket – and it’s available for the same price or sometimes cheaper. Depending on the region where you are travelling, the same can sometimes be said for meat, fish and other products.
You can also usually make the prices even cheaper by haggling – an acceptable practice in many markets around the world.
It’s a Great Way to Discover Local Foods
Take a trip to the market to discover what the locals like to eat, from exotic fruits you have never seen before to delicious deep fried street food. Once you learn about the typical local dishes, buy the ingredients and try making them yourself. Keep an open mind and be willing to try anything, even if it seems a little strange to you. You just might find your new favourite food!
You Can Practice Your Language Skills
If you are learning the language, one of the benefits of shopping local is that it gives you an opportunity to practice your food vocabulary with all of the different market vendors. Learn how to ask the age of a cheese in French at a market in Paris, or practice talking about how picante the peppers are at a market in Mexico. The food stall owners will be delighted that you are trying to speak the language and they are likely to take the time to help you learn.
These are just a few benefits of shopping local and why you should skip the supermarket. Try it now see what you discover at the local marketplace!