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There are many household chores that bother me. Grocery shopping is not one of them. The older I get, the more I enjoy cooking and picking out food to do that is just part of it for me. I’m not the biggest Walmart fan, but even shopping there doesn’t really bother me. I do prefer the stores that sell more organic and/or local foods and like to pick out fresh produce and European cheeses and good bread when my budget allows it, but for the non-food items like detergent etc. Walmart’s prices are just hard to beat. When we travel, it’s fun to do a little grocery shopping as well. Many things related to food are so different and depend on the local culture: how and where people buy groceries, if you have to bargain for the price, how the food is prepared, the way food is enjoyed, and much more. When we are in Guangzhou we stay with family, so accompanying them when buying groceries is just part of the trip. What we found is that grocery shopping in China can be as Western as you want it to be or as local as you dare to go.

In Guangzhou we found quite a few big Western-looking supermarket chains (like Metro or Jusco). These are great if you want foreign delicacies and/or a squeaky clean environment. Jusco is for example where we bought all the sushi and sashimi we ate that one night. This however is not where most locals would shop.

I saw many, many street carts around the city where people stopped and bought bananas, live chicken, and so on. While the bananas were totally fine for me, the chickens and the veggies on the ground were a little too much for me honestly. The streets are not that clean in Guangzhou and some of the food is a little too close to the dirty ground for my comfort.

There are food stores that lay out part of their stuff right in front of the store on the streets. Then there are also what looked liked really clean and modern mini-supermarkets with a ton of different fruit and veggies laid out on stands inside. I wish we had some of these around here in Lubbock! We stopped at one of those to buy some delicious dragon fruit last time.

Something else that seems super popular in Guangzhou are little stores that sell everything from food to household cleaners and tons of little gadgets. The American version of that would be a 7-11.

However, I think that probably most of the grocery shopping in China is done in these huge supermarket-like malls with food stands that seem to have everything from fruits and vegetables to meat. Some are outside, some are inside, some seem fairly clean, some really seem somewhat dirty. What groced me out where the meat stands with some things hanging from the top of the stand, some things being laid out on the stand, and sometimes a little blood running down the side of the stand or on the floor. I found what looked like dog legs hanging down on stand to be the worst…

Check out the pics below for our Chinese grocery shopping experience in Guangzhou.

Buying Groceries in China: Street Carts

Buying Groceries in China: Street Carts

Buying Groceries in China: Street Carts

Buying Groceries in China: Food Stores

Grocery Shopping in China: Mini-Supermarket for Fruits and Veggies

Buying Groceries in China: mini-chains with a little bit of everything

Buying Groceries in China: huge mall-like supermarkets with food stands inside and outside

Buying Groceries in China: huge mall-like supermarkets with food stands inside and outside

Buying Groceries in China: food stands inside a big building

Buying Groceries in China: food stands inside a big building

Buying Groceries in China: food stands inside a big building

Buying Groceries in China: food stands inside a big building

Buying Groceries in China: food stands inside a big building

This post was submitted to Travel Photo Thursday. Head over there to check out more travel pics from around the world.

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26 Comments

  • Laurel says:

    Definitely a lot different than the grocery stores I’m used too :)

    • Sabrina says:

      Right? But as I said, they have the “normal” ones as well, but they were so normal that I never even took a picture :)

  • Shanna says:

    Talk about cross contamination. It is fun to see how things are so much different in other countries. In Seattle at the Pikes Place Market, they have a lot of fruit and flower stands inside. The apples and strawberries were wonderful the year I was there for a visit.

  • We have lots of street side vendors here in Jamaica. They sell fresh fruits, bottled water, sodas, etc. I’m surprised they sell live chickens on a stall. I guess you have to do your own prep at home.

    • Sabrina says:

      I’ve wondered about that as well… I guess at least you know it’s fresh and don’t have to worry about the heat spoiling the meat…. not sure if I could do it though.

  • I haven’t visited Guangzhou yet, I’ve only been to Suzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, but all I can say is that street shopping is very common. you find all things outside! So different from the sterile shopping in department stores and more interesting besides :)

    • Sabrina says:

      I bet it’s very similar across China. It really is more interesting, but it also makes me think that you have to clean your food that much more when you get it home 😉

  • Wow..those street vendors would be a culture shock for me even for someone who grew up in the islands. I don’t blame you for being cautious with those street vendors. Your mini-supermarket picture looks like the many Asian markets we have here in Southern CA. Quite an experience for you though.

  • Your pictures remind me of Malaysia. It’s taken me a while to get accustomed to shopping here versus in Texas. Today, I hit both the wet market and the Western-style grocery store.

    • Sabrina says:

      I think that’s what I would do if I lived there longer: different things at different markets. I wouldn’t want to pay the top dollar prices for everything at the Western-style supermarkets.

  • Wow – you really just buy your chicken like that- I honestly couldn’t do that! The fruit in the big chain store looks pretty perfect to me though!

    • Sabrina says:

      The fruit was amazing in Guangzhou, Becca! So fresh and intense flavors. But yes, the chicken, …. something to get used to for sure.

  • R. Sherman says:

    Reminds me of the big farmer’s market in St. Louis every weekend. One can find all kinds of stuff.

    Cheers.

  • Leigh says:

    It’s the un-refrigerated meat that always puts me off but I’m with you – I love checking out grocery stores in foreign lands. Even Texas. The Hispanic selection in a typical Texan grocery store is unlike anything you find in Canada.

    • Sabrina says:

      I hear you in the refrigeration problem. I always worried about that in Egypt as well where they had things hanging outside… and then the flies… gross! and the big Hispanic sections here are really kind of neat. We have some supermarkets where all the signage is even in Spanish. Kind of hard for me (not knowing Spanish), but cool nonetheless :)

  • Lisa says:

    Lots of great photos! I love grocery shopping when we are traveling too. Funny how such an everyday chore becomes an adventure when it happens somewhere else! When we rented a house in the south of France my kids had a great time walking the aisles of the local grocery store checking out all the packaged foods that they had never seen before.

    • Sabrina says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one :) I do that in France too. Marco gets annoyed with me, because to him it’s just shopping. To me it’s exploring though :)

  • Denise says:

    fantastic photo subjects. And Jackie Chan is the icing on the cake!

  • I don’t really mind grocery shopping either, but it sure is much more interesting in interesting foreign places. Great pics of the Guangzhou shopping experience.

  • Sophie says:

    I like browsing through grocery shops in other countries, too. Sometimes I even buy things to take home – like spices – intending to use it some day. I never do…

    • Sabrina says:

      Glad I’m not the only one. I have some dried lemon grass on the shelf I thought I was for sure gonna use… not even open!

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