Monthly Archives: August 2018

Conquering the Markets of Hong Kong

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Just want to thank http://www.porthole.com for allowing me another great opportunity to write for their magazine.  It is so much fun to share my experiences with your readers.  I hope you enjoy this piece!

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This summer I had the unbelievable opportunity to visit the city of Hong Kong, China. What made the experience even more memorable was being able to take my ten-year-old daughter. She is an adventure-seeker, like me, so it was an easy sell despite the 19 hours we would spend on the plane. Within two weeks of finding out we were going, my daughter and I had booked our flights, packed our bags, and prepared to be awed by the world we would soon encounter.

Learning to Barter

Ladies Market

Hong Kong is full of so many wonderful treasures and sights, and one of my favorite memories was walking around and shopping in all the local markets. With a population of almost 8 million people, Hong Kong offers some of the best shopping opportunities from the ultra high-end to inexpensive trinkets and souvenirs. My daughter and I were staying at a hotel located in Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula. This area of Hong Kong plays host to some of the best-known street markets in the city. Our first night, we experienced the famous Ladies Market, which was bustling with shoppers well into the late night hours. Stall after stall lined the narrow streets, selling anything from luggage to jewelry, and of course purses resembling certain designer labels. Here is where I experienced my first taste of bargaining with the locals. Most everyone spoke English, thankfully, and the more you bargained with the vendors, the better response you received. Better bargaining led to fun gifts to take home to the family! My daughter even got in the game and bargained herself a pretty decent deal on a few specialty souvenirs.

Not Your Typical Grocery Shopping

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The next market we conquered was one of the “wet markets” found around the city. Wet Markets are where locals go to buy their groceries. In the States, we are accustomed to going inside a large, well-lit building which houses everything we need to stock our kitchens and households. But the one-stop-shopping concept is completely different in Hong Kong. Our eyes were opened in fascination as we passed various store fronts which sold everything from locally grown vegetables, some I had never laid eyes on before in my life, to household cleaning supplies. Other shops dealt solely with meats, chickens, or seafood items. And when you shop the wet markets in Hong Kong, you only buy what you need for the next few meals because everything is fresh. Even the eggs are sitting out, unrefrigerated, because they were most likely gathered that morning. It was a foodie’s dream to meander down the aisles and see spices, dried goods, fruits, and vegetables to tempt anyone’s palate.

A Thousand Colors of Green

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The next market on our shopping adventure was the one and only Jade Market. Here you could purchase various kinds of Jade, from the deepest of greens to the earthy reds of what locals called “ancient jade.” Again, my daughter and I found ourselves bargaining and negotiating our way down the aisles, finding the most unique pieces for the best prices possible. The Jade Market, also located in Mong Kok, takes up two entire blocks, and the outside appearance is deceiving. You think at first you are walking into a run-down metal and wood building only to discover the rows and rows of various items for sale, many of which were beautifully hand-carved masterpieces by the booth owners themselves. It is a must-see if you visit Hong Kong, because here you can get exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces while also emerging yourself fully in the culture.

The Many Markets of Hong Kong

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Our final day of shopping in Hong Kong found us at two places, which were in two totally different locations. PMQ, a modernist building located in Hong Kong’s “SOHO” district, once housed police quarters for married officers and their families. It is now using those rooms as individual storefronts. Local artists from around the Hong Kong area sell their pieces, which range from custom-made handbags and jewelry to tasteful varieties of tea leaves. If you want something unique and one-of-a-kind, the PMQ market needs to be on your to-do list. The close of our Hong Kong shopping adventure took place at the Temple Street Night Market. This market is also located on Kowloon and is one of the more well-known street markets in this area. Like the Ladies Market we visited a few evenings before, this market also sold many of the same items, but what makes this one so famous are the food vendors that set up shop here. Some families have been offering their cuisines to patrons for generations. The sights, sounds, and smells we encountered at the Temple Street Market truly resembled the culture and heritage of Hong Kong.

It’s easy to get accustomed to shopping in air-conditioned malls and shopping centers, but the luxury and convenience of those type of stores lack the individuality and character of the markets in Hong Kong. One of the best things about traveling is finding ways to immerse yourself in the culture, and visiting the markets in Hong Kong is a great way to achieve this. I hope one day you get to enjoy the same experiences my daughter and I did this summer.

 

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https://www.porthole.com/conquering-markets-hong-kong-china/

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Maneuvering Through Food Label Mania

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I always like to tell those seeking healthy eating advice to read labels before purchasing a product.  But sometimes label-reading can be a little like figuring out a Rubik’s Cube.  So I thought it might be helpful to explain what some of the labels mean on the foods you decide to stick in your grocery cart.  I also do my research online from reputable sites.  One of my go-to’s is http://www.sustainabletable.org.  They have some of the latest news when it comes to the food industry.

  • Whole Grain:  This is not something new in today’s society.  You can find it on most “health” food items.  It means the food contains the entire grain and has not been refined in processing.
  • Non-GMO, GMO-Free, or No-GMO’s:  There could be an entire post done on this one.  So I am keeping it simple.  Foods with this label do not contain any genetically modified or genetically engineered products.  GMO means scientists have altered the state of an organism’s genetic make-up by taking a specific gene from one organism and sticking it into a plant or animal that has an entirely different genetic make-up.  Many crops today use GMO seeds to withstand pesticides during the farming process.
  • Free-Range:  This is used in the egg and poultry industry to indicate chickens that have access to the outdoors and are not restricted to chicken coups.  Be mindful because “free-range” is different that the term “pastured.”  Free-range chickens can still be limited to the amount of time they get to “freely” roam outside.  The USDA has set the standards for this classification and products may not always be cruelty-free or antibiotic-free.
  • Antibiotic-free and Hormone-free:  This one is pretty self-explanatory and means animals were not given any form of antibiotics or hormones during their life span.  By federal law, hogs and poultry are not allowed to be given hormones.  Of course, there is always room to dig with this topic….what you see or read may not be what you get.  Just be sure to check the company, even if the product is organic.  Not everyone abides by the same standards.
  • Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed:  When you buy your meats you definitely want to lean on the side of grass-fed.  Grass fed animals are allowed to eat from their own natural habitat, while grain-fed animals are given feed.  Here is where you have to really watch your labels.  If you purchase grain-fed products, be sure the label reads “100% Vegetarian Fed.”  Otherwise, producers could be putting animal by-product in their feed.  Yuck!
  • RBGH-free or RBST-free:  This simply means the animals were not injected with any hormones before going to slaughter.  You DEFINITELY want your meats to be free of these.  Some studies have linked these injections with increasing hormone development in children, especially girls.  Also, the hormones have been linked to different illnesses and cancers.  Do your investigation through reliable sources, or just avoid it if that is easier.  In my book, I just stay as clean as possible with what I put in my body, or the body of my kids.
  • Pasture-raised:  You will start to see more and more of this on food labels, and that is thanks to the huge movement from consumers demanding better quality food.  This is what I always look for when I buy my eggs at the supermarket.  Just because it says “cage-free” doesn’t mean it was allowed to roam around a farm and eat it’s natural food-source.  Remember, you are what you eat!
  • Healthy:  Many food companies will make the claim that their product is considered “healthy.”  WATCH YOUR FOOD LABELS!  If the ingredient lists contains a slew of words you can’t pronounce or they have a lot of numbers in them, place it back on the shelf.  Many people are floored when they realize what they thought was a healthy food to eat really wasn’t, especially when they could never figure out the cause behind weight gain or other health issues.  Labels are your best bet, not what is printed on the front of the package.

Buying good, quality food does not have to be a challenge.  You just need to educate yourself a bit and be proactive when it comes to purchasing.  We, alone, are the ones in charge of our well-being, and the habits we develop to become healthier will only funnel over into the next generation.  Maybe one day we will see the end of harmful preservatives and chemicals placed in our food supply.

For more information on healthy living ideas, visit my website at http://www.lifestylelistener.com or my Facebook page, @lifestylelistener for recipes and tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Happy shopping, and until next time,

Cheers