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Where to buy safe vegetables/ groceries from?

Hi All,

Is there any shop which sells ALL clean and safe vegetables and groceries in Ho Chi Minh City which you guys are patronizing already?

I have read articles/ stories online that not all vegetable from supermarkets/ stores are clean and safe, and 35% of cancer cases in Vietnam are due to unsafe food intake :/ (english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/153124/unsafe-food-is-the-top-cause-of-cancer-in-vietnam.html)

I am thinking of opening a store to sell safe products (imported or after verifying with the manufacturer directly), and produces from trusted farmers, would there be a demand in the market? Appreciate any advice/ insights!

I want information to be transparent to the consumers, so we can all live and eat with a peace of mind in such a lovely country :)

Well... this is just my two cents but I've been living here for quite a while and been purchasing veggies in whatever store is the closest. I'm still alive :)

I don't really think there is much difference. Stuff that is available in stores like Coop.Mart is quite good.

So, to be honest I don't see a reason for such a store (that you want to open). In fact there was one similar store that heavily focused on organic food and stuff like that. They had really great selection and quality, but they went out of business quickly, because people simply don't care about that stuff. And there aren't enough foreigners to justify it. Plus there are already grocery delivery services like the one offered by 4P pizzeria partners.

I came from the U.S. and used to buy almost 100% organic fruits and vegetables, which were readily available in every local supermarket that I went to.  If you look at the numbers, the U.S. market for organic foods is significant and continues to grow.

After living in Vietnam for a few months now, my view is that Vietnam is a very long way from having the variety similar to what the U.S. offers now.  I think a market exists, but the infrastructure does not.

With that said and to answer your question, here are a few places that I found in HCMC that sell healthier fruit/vegetable options:

1. Annam Gourmet - expensive, have several locations in HCMC, including level B2 in Saigon Center and Hai Ba Trung street.  Many organic fruit and vegetable options.

2. Organica - leading organic food distributor in Vietnam.  Small store located on 47 Tôn Thất Thiệp, Q1 that sells 100% organic fruits/vegetables and more.

Google these places for more information.

I think the vegetables and fruit of Vietnam gets way to much negative press. The vegetables and fruit is fresh, even from local shops. You do however need to wash EVERY time.
My uneducated, and not scientifically based, opinion is not unsafe vegetables and fruit. I think it could be the usage of MSG in well, everything.
The unsanitary holding of produce is an issue, but that is solved by shopping in any serious supermarket.

But, I have done literally no research. This is just my interpretation of the vegetables and fruit that one finds everywhere.

Personally, I think this is a bit of a lost cause. With that said, it's a bit of a shame as a beautiful business women is something that makes me a bit giddy!

I am a Vietnamese. Unsafe food is really a problem here.
I think the idea of opening a store to sell safe products is a good idea.

But I think following difficult things you need to consider: how about the price will you plan to sell your safe product (if it is too expensive, there will not be a lot of people buy them) , how you build the trust about your products to people here, it must be costly to advertising, but a lot of store also have the similar advertisements, people  always have doubts. If you are strong about finance, it is ok. If not, I think making a store online is not a bad idea. First you can sell your products to your friends here. And when you feel it is feasible, you can open a physical store store.

Thanks :)

Hi Kai,

Thanks for sharing. I do believe that the effect of cancer is not immediate, but that doesn't mean we ignore the fact that the everyday food we are eating is actually leading us down the path.

I do agree that the local communities are not very well-informed and concerns about safe food consumption, but with the influx of foreigners, tourists and younger generations who have such knowledge will influence, amidst very slowly, the communities around them.

I'll be sure to check out the online grocery delivery service you mention, thanks!

Hi Chix4,

Thanks for your reply! Would you mind sharing more why you think unsafe food is a very real problem there?

I totally agree with you. The main challenge would be to educate (which will take years perhaps) the public, and like what you said, how does the local differentiate a genuine safe food shop from another out-to-maximize-every-profit-only shop. I am exploring 'farm to table' concept, and being transparent on which farm the veg/ fruits is from.

I'm looking for small farms who is interested in distributing safe food to work with, please let me know if you have any contacts on that, thanks! :)

HuiTing88 :

Hi Chix4,

Thanks for your reply! Would you mind sharing more why you think unsafe food is a very real problem there?

A friend who recently visited me in London happens to be a radiologist in Vietnam and i'll take his word for it since he screens cancers for a living and has worked abroad so can compare. Vietnam has a disproportionately high cancer rate and he attributes this to unsafe food.

Hi Pika,

It's sad to hear that, really hope the government does something to stop this at root cause. Probably because the effect of cancer is something which is not felt instantaneous, people are placing less emphasize on the important of taking basic clean and safe food.

Ting

Hi HuiTing88,

We can see acticles about poisoned foods, dirty foods frequently. And the rate of cancer in Vietnam is high. I am not sure how it is in other country, so I can't not really compare. But at least, me and most of my friends living in worries about unsafe food everyday. That's why I said "unsafe food is really a problem here".

About "farms who is interested in distributing safe food". Yes, I have some friends who are trustable, who are famers. If you really need them, you can send me a private message. I can introduce them with you. However, they can't speak English.

Thanks
Chi

Before we had to move to Saigon to be close to the hospital for my wife's care, we lived in a simi-rural area, got to know the local farmers at the market place and bought from those who avoided heavy use of pesticide. But like HuiTing88 says, you really do need to speak Vietnamese or have a trusted Vietnamese speaker buy for you to benefit.

ChiChiChiChi :

Hi HuiTing88,

We can see acticles about poisoned foods, dirty foods frequently. And the rate of cancer in Vietnam is high. I am not sure how it is in other country, so I can't not really compare. But at least, me and most of my friends living in worries about unsafe food everyday. That's why I said "unsafe food is really a problem here".

Thanks
Chi

Hi Chi,

You can refer to the statistics of cancer trends in Singapore between 2010 - 2014 here: https://www.nrdo.gov.sg/docs/librariesp … f?sfvrsn=0

What are you and your friends doing to minimize the risk of taking unsafe food?

Rgds,
Ting

Aloha HuiTing88,

I have just spent the past month in Vietnam (mostly HCMC) and discovered a small shop specializing in Organic foods:

Homefood at 90 Pasteur (tucked in the parking area) in District 1 has some selection available, but Ms. Dung (the Manager) is very helpful and can also give you additional guidance.

They were my salvation while there. Good luck.

Aloha,

Hawaiiscott

Thing I do not understand is that the idea being thrown around is to throw competition at the local farmers. Why aren't investments being made in the area of perhaps producing(or selling) cheap alternatives to the pesticides?
Surely there is money in importing cheap alternatives ways to keep your crops clear of pests?

This is actually a genuine question, is there no market for that? Because very often I hear about people starting these middle-class aimed ventures instead of trying to promote ideas that benefit the lower AND middle-class by promoting safe growing practices?

Dear lolpol8912,

Yes, I believe that you are onto something here. There is a market for organic alternatives to conventional pesticides, but there is also the ability to self produce these materials (as they are mostly simple preparations) with the proper technology exchange and education on methods. This is another way of empowering small and medium scale producers to be less dependent on imported (often toxic/poisonous to human and animal) goods and more self reliant locally. This is an appropriate and important alternative technology to invest in developing further in Vietnam, for the future sustainability of production.

Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, USA has been working on this for many years. Here is a link to their information site:

http://www.rodaleinstitute.org

ECHO, based in Florida, USA, is another organization working toward the same goals, albeit through different means. They are more focused on the tropics. Here is a link to their site:

https://www.echonet.org

Hope that this is of assistance to those investigating alternatives. I will be establishing small farm sites in Vietnam to showcase these and other technologies in the near future. Will keep you posted.

Aloha,

Hawaiiscott

Hi 8912,

Perhaps you might have misunderstood, but the discussion here is anything but to introduce competition to the local farmers.

There're actually a few parts to this thread; sales of unsafe food, community awareness, and where to buy safe produce.

Based on my very (very) limited knowledge, pesticides does its job of eradicating pests but it's never good for the soil, environment and most importantly the crops. The cost of pesticides are low, hence farmers with limited investments or expertise opt for this. Considering that even if they did have the expertise and money, they will be concern if there will be a demand for clean and safe produce that costs higher in comparison. It's kinda like a vicious cycle. Please forgive me if I get any part of this wrong, this is not my area of expertise.

Lastly, you may want to follow the thread started by HawaiiScott, he's providing real good insights on safe and good farming practices in which there might be plans to introduce to local farmers.

Regards,
Ting

I like the little store on Vo Thi Sau, near Hai Ba Trung, across from the park.

Might be called Thien Nhien? The green white sign that looks like an apple.

Veeteq farm on Dien Bien Phu Q.10 is ok, and has a large vegetable selection.

I think the little Khai Minh food shop on Ngo Quyen in Q. 5 has some quality vegetables.

I reckon the gestapo of this site would remove this post if i do the supreme crime of  putting exact addresses and contacts. So, PM me if you want that.

I understand what you are saying.
When it comes to organic vegetables, I understand. But you are talking about "safe" vegetables. "Safe" vegetables are something well within reach for even the poorest farmer here. All it takes is to start using more natural and not too much more expensive methods of pest-control.
I think it would be of more societal value to start at the very least include a social aspect to the business, like I mentioned. If you are coming, as a foreigner, to a third-world country to exploit their market make a positive impact instead of drawing more foreigners away from poor local farmers.

I simply object to foreigners that cite health-issues and problems in society and then try to exploit it by offering foreigners and well to-do Vietnamese a way to avoid it. I think anyone doing business in a third-world country should have at least a small "giving-back" part of a business.

That is just my moral issue. It's not your fault, you are not directly harming by starting a business. You can ignore my opinion, it is just my opinion. But, I have not misunderstood. I had a clear reason for posting what I posted =)!

Kind of similar to the Japanese or Korean hospitals that offer quality healthcare that about 10% of Vietnamese (or less) can afford. It's exploitation that is kind of OK because it creates some jobs. However, morally I object.

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Cheers!

Without competition, businesses will stay complacent. I do think a healthy dose of it is necessary to make the private sector progress.

And the same time, when it comes to the basic welfare needs of the people, the government has to ensure it is affordable and within reach of the majority of the population. Any lower income has to be given subsidy. There's no one policy which fits all, it's all about striking a balance.

I do appreciate all the honest opinions here though, it's good to see things from different perspective.

Regards,
Ting

Well, competition is healthy when it's fair. A farmer from the villages that drives their Honda Dream 60kms every day to sell on the roadside isn't really in a fair position. Extreme example, not really. Many foreigners do purchase vegetables and fruit from people in that situation.

But yeah, I assume you get my point. I think any business started by foreigners in a third-world country should offset their negative impact with social action integrated into their business.

That's all I wanted to say about the issue.

My family are farmers in Vietnam, and have been doing so for many generations. They have been making less and less each year  because of the influx of fruits and vegetables coming from China/Thailand and also from Vietnam that have been sprayed with chemicals to make them grow quicker and therefore be able to sell a much higher volume than fruits/vegetables that are naturally grown (and thus be able to make more money). Where as something that would normally take 7 days to grow and harvest before selling to the markets, these producers spray chemicals on them to make them magically ready to be harvested in 3 days or less. In turn these producers can sell twice as much volume and make twice as much money or more than an honest producer. Trust me, you guys probably think I'm crazy and I thought my family was crazy for telling me the same things until they took me to a small farm where I was able to see it with my own eyes. Morning glory (Rau Muong) is one of the biggest food items to be grown this way with chemicals because of how much is consumed and how much is sold or traded at markets. I have seen morning glory seeds planted, sprayed, and shipped off to the markets in less then 36 hours. Keep in mind that the chemicals I mentioned only have to do with actually growing the product. After that they use different chemicals to make the fruits appear more ripe, and different chemicals to keep them from spoiling.

There is no regulation in Vietnam with anything, and that's the biggest problem. This isn't just happening with fruits and vegetables. It happens with meat on a daily basis. I live and work in Binh Duong. Every night in the early morning hours there are dozens of trucks that are carrying spoiled rancid meat. I'm not talking about meat that is starting to go bad; I'm talking about  thousands of pounds of meat that are completely covered  in maggots and has been for days. These trucks carry them in the early hours of the morning to avoid detection from cops. Sometimes they get caught and get fined, but most of the times they make it to their final destination (the restaurants). These restaurants buy the rancid meat for pennies on the dollar and then soak them in a combination of chemicals to kill all the maggots before boiling them in milk to get rid of the smell. After it's been boiled in milk for a lengthy duration, it's then sliced and served in your favorite dishes. Yummy right? There's articles about this on internet and how some get caught transporting the rancid meat but it doesn't stop future transactions.

Not to make anyone panic or cause alarm but anyone who eats street food even occasionally has consumed cancer causing chemicals/agents. I can guarantee that. That's how big of a problem it is here.

Yeah, all good reasons to promote improvement rather than competition! People like your family should be helped in a way that makes them more competitive to the cheap, mass-produced variants.

Hi,
Here is a link with a list of some of the shop selling clean/organic vegetables in Saigon... There is more out there...

Locals do not trust the Market vegetables anymore and for good reason..

https://www.cooky.vn/blog/cac-dia-chi-c … p-hcm-2806

Depending on the retail price, most people don't care enough to buy the best. Perhaps the expat crowd could carry such a store but locals might say, "give me good food and that is what they mean, "give" not sell.
Only my opinion.

Hi,

I think it's great that you are considering starting your own business.

One issue I have with a lot of the 'safe' or organic produce stores I have been to in HCMC is the amount of packaging! I find it highly illogical to see a product which was grown in a way which took care to limit damage done to the environment, and the consumer's health, wrapped up in Styrofoam and plastic cling film, neither of which can be recycled in HCMC. Styrofoam in particular is such a horrible product and yet so many stores use it. Polluting our environment will only end up damaging our health and even if the packaging makes it into landfill it will still inevitably leach chemicals into the soil - exactly what the farmers who grew the organic produce had been hoping to avoid.

If you do end up starting you own business I hope you consider leaving the produce free of packaging. Encouraging customers to use their own reusable grocery bags would also be fantastic.

Cheers

I'm a bit late to the discussion but still want to get rid of my 2 cents. I admit that I only skimmed through the comments above, so I hope I don't  repeat anything that has already been mentioned:

In general it is a good business idea, but it is not new and many already have such kind of business. But vietnamese people still don't fully trust those "rau sạch" labels. There are many cases where they aren't organic, or they have mixed organic vegetables with non-organic ones when they couldn't serve the demand with organic products. The thing in Vietnam is, that you can't really tell where the products come from and there are no private or governmental organs that really check the sources and claimes made by the vendor. That's why some city people pay their relatives in the rural areas that they can trust to tend to and grow organic vegetables for them (or atleast don't use pestizide). They will get weekly deliveries, or twice a week. Some even get their meat exclusively from those relatives.
So if you want to be successful with this business, you have to focus on HOW to gain their trust. If you are a local and have many friends, people/families who trusts you, those are your first customers. The word will spread if you can live up to what you promise.
I think it has been mentioned above that you could try to include those farmers in the poor areas and make your products safe and fair trade.
I am personally interested too, and especially in aquaponics and hydroponics but also in traditional soil farming.

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