Consumers count on luck to choose clean vegetables


Every consumer wants their family to eat clean, fresh, and non-toxic vegetables, but most of them have to depend on the God of Luck, as there is almost nothing to count on when shopping for truly safe vegetables.

Clean vegetables, as defined by consumers, are those that do not bear an excessive amount of banned chemicals or pesticide residue. Most consumers just buy products based on their experience, as vegetables sold at markets do not come with packaging or labels from the producers and suppliers.

Every morning Nguyen Thi Thanh, residing in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 8, goes to buy vegetables at Pham The Hien market, and her experience is that “clean vegetables have smaller leaves and stalks than those of unsafe ones, which are bigger thanks to the use of fertilizer and chemicals.”

But asked if she is sure that her chosen vegetables are actually clean and healthy, with chemical residues not exceeding the allowed rates, Thanh said: “I have no idea. There is no vegetable stand which advertises such information in this market.”

With a similar experience, a large number of other market-goers only choose to buy the cleanest and freshest vegetables they see with their eyes, hoping that they are healthy and safe.

Interestingly enough, the traders also share the concern with customers, as they too fail to tell the fresh vegetables from the unhealthy ones.

“Only when buyers have sharp eyes and the traders are honest will the former be able to bring home clean vegetables, as they are usually stored in the same place as unclean ones,” revealed Luu Thi Kim Canh, owner of a vegetable booth in Tan Phu Trung market.

Meanwhile, Tran Kim Anh, a trader in Ba Chieu market, said customers at her market have a different distinguishing norm.

“They say clean vegetables are those packed in plastic bags with labels, while those sold without packaging are ‘normal vegetables’,” she said.

However, Tran Thanh Huy, who owns a vegetable booth in Tam Binh agricultural product wholesale market, said it is not difficult to produce 'clean vegetables.'


More than 70 percent of the vegetables daily transported to the market are from the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, while the remaining vegetables come from the Mekong Delta and HCMC’s neighboring provinces.


“Traders only need to wash the vegetables clean and put them in packaging to have so-called 'clean vegetables,' however their safety is still under question,” revealed Huy.


Toi, another Tam Binh vegetable trader, also said that those with packaging are less consumed than normal vegetables.


Are HCMC greens clean?


Doubting the safety of vegetables in the market, many customers turn to supermarkets in the hope of being able to buy real clean greens. But even there, their concerns are not completely eased, as only a small proportion of vegetables in supermarkets are sold with labels bearing the suppliers' names, such as Saigon Co.op Mart and Big C.


Most of the vegetables on shelves are just like those in the market.


“I don’t know if they are safe, but vegetables in supermarkets are likely cleaner than those in the market,” guessed Tran Thi Tuyen when shopping at Big C.


Duong Thi Quynh Trang, Big C chief of public relations, said all vegetables on sale in the Big C system have to pass quality checks before being sold to consumers.


Meanwhile, Le Minh Dung, deputy director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said almost all of the 3,700 tons of vegetables consumed in the city on a daily basis are clean and safe.


“The department has signed contracts on clean vegetable supplies with neighboring localities, and all of the products are tested at the wholesale markets before being distributed to smaller markets across the city,” he asserted.