This past week I have met more than one newbie to Shanghai. At this time of year I often feel like the senior in high school meeting the freshman as they wander about the halls. There is nothing wrong with that, every expat was new to Shanghai at one time and while you might think you are the only one having a devil of a time getting use to the quirks and aggravations of life in the big city, the initial issues haven’t really changed much over the years.
The questions I hear are the same ones I had when I arrived oh so long ago. Where to shop, is the food safe and where can I find a doctor? What has changed are the options available to the newcomers.
Where to shop, oh let me count the ways. Shanghai has the mega stores like Carrefour, Metro and Lotus, the smaller international grocery stores like City Shop, Ole’ Supermarket and City Super, the traditional wet markets, also known as the fruit and vegetable market found in almost every neighborhood and the online delivery options, including groceries and farms. I recommend you try them all to decide what is best for you. One thing that hasn’t changed is that you can rarely find everything you need in one place and that, believe it or not, is a good thing. Some places are just better for certain items. There are good butchers, Swiss Butchery (Wulumuqi Lu & other locations) comes to mind for beef (& cheeses!). For quality, hormone-free pork, Mahota Farm Market is a very reasonable, safe choice.
Food safety is more of a concern now than back in the early days but there is also more of an awareness of the issues and sometimes there are even public notices when there is a problem. Remember that every country has food safety issues, some are just better dealing with the issues and outbreaks when they happen.
At Eat Well Shanghai we recommend that you shop at a variety of places, wash your fruits and vegetables well, no matter where you buy them, and spend your precious food dollars on organic milk and anti-biotic and hormone free meats. Oh yeah and wash your hands often, not all the problems come from the food.
Don’t be afraid. Shanghai has wonderful food options both on the street and in the restaurants and shops. Take each day as it comes and look for the positives that come with being an expat, whether that is the delicious taste of an exotic fruit that you haven’t seen before or the relief of meeting a friendly new neighbor. Before long you will be the one telling the newbies where to shop!
If you want more information on Eating Well in Shanghai get the EWS Guide to Eating Well at Home and on the Go. This handy book offers more advice on where to shop, how to clean your fruits and veggies, suggestions for dining and recommendations for living in Shanghai with special diet restrictions. You can order the book from Kate and Kimi or contact Eat Well Shanghai. <Updated in 2019: Apologies – the book is now out of print!>
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!
<Blog updated in 2019 to reflect business openings & closures.>