Wet markets are the heart of Singapore food

I WRITE with regard to Ms Jessica Lim’s thoughts last Saturday that it is ‘Time for wet markets to go‘.

While I agree that wet markets today are less popular, especially among the younger generation, the recent uproar suggests that to many Singaporeans, the wet market is still at the heart of their food consumption experience – even if it is not for Ms Lim.

My greatest concern with any calls to close wet markets is the loss of diversity regarding our food suppliers. Like many other industries in Singapore, food supply here has increasingly come under the control of a few major corporations. Who can stop them if they come together to dictate pricing and food variety? Wet markets, which are made up of small independent hawkers, can serve alternative and minority needs that are not met by a supermarket.

Also, in a wet market, one can easily negotiate the amount of food to suit one’s needs, no matter how big or small the quantity. This is unlike in supermarkets, where food is pre-packaged and shrink- wrapped for the ‘standard’ consumer.

These reasons have nothing to do with nostalgia, although I must add that to those who use the wet market, it is not entirely about lower prices as Ms Lim has suggested. She seems to have missed the community spirit in a wet market, which cannot be guaranteed even if a place is clean and air-conditioned.

So let wet markets continue to exist as long as they can on their own. And if Ms Lim represents the sentiments of most of Singapore’s next generation, then the wet market will eventually die a natural death.

Justin Zhuang

Source : Straits Times – 27 Oct 2009


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