Street food, which is undoubtedly an essential part of people life, is widely known as ”ready-to-eat foods and beverages prepared and/or sold by vendors and hawker especially in streets and other similar public places” (FAO 1989 cited in Alizon 1996). Differently, Alizon defines street food as ”an extremely heterogeneous food category, encompassing meals, drinks and snack ” (1996). It cannot be denied that street food has deep impacts on eating habit of many people. In fact, a study from the FAO (2007) shows that there are approximately 2.5 billion people world-wide eating street food every day; in Bangkok, street food makes up for 40 percent in total nutrition intake of the resident. Additionally, researches indicate that it also plays a substantial socio-economy role in the employment potential. The Equity Policy Center notes that the street food trade consists 6 percent of the total labor force in Zinguinchor, Senegal and Manikganj, Bangladesh to 15 percent and 25 percent in Iloil City, the Philippines, and Bogor, Indonesia, respectively (Cohen 1985 cited in Alizon 1996). Thanks to many benefits, the development of street is continuously on the rise. On the other hand, the question of whether or not street food is completely good remains controversial. Therefore, this paper, with a view to helping us have deeper knowledge about street food, will discuss its development, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.
2. Discussion of findings
2.1 The development
From the ancient time, street food was considered as a vital part of people life. There is no information suggesting the exact time when the street food appears, however, it is supposed to have appeared very early in the human history.
“A traveling Florentine reported in the late 1300s that in Cairo, people carried picnic cloths made of raw hide to spread on the streets and eat their meals of lamb kebabs, rice and fritters that they had purchased from street vendors.”
Today, like many other types of services for daily life, street food has been developed fast and be loved by billion people throughout the world. The FAO points out that the increased popularity of street food is seemed to be closely linked with the change in the lifestyle and family structure (2013). In fact, in such a modern life as nowadays, people find it difficult to have enough time to relax themselves, let alone cook and enjoy meals together regularly; therefore, many of them see street food as a perfect substitution food. As a result, the demand of street food becomes higher.
Street food can be found in every part of the world, particularly in crowed cities. Look into the actual state; many people are eating street food on a regular basis and even seeing it as an indispensable part of daily life. For instant, basing on the survey did by the Nutrition Center of Ho Chi Minh city, there are over 95.5% people are utilizing street food; 51% eating street food every day and 82% using street food for breakfast (Nguyen 2003).On the other hand, thanks to the rising prevalence of street food, the street food trade also tends to be more common. There is a big number of people who are earning their life by selling street food. Specifically, Alizon (1996) mentions an estimation of EPOC indicating that in Bogor, there are approximately 18,000 vendors in a city of about 250,000; or in a smaller area like Hoankiem district, there are over 2,000 vendors (Lam 2008). With a numerous people taking part in, street food trade naturally brings a giant profit. Henrilyto (2012) states that the annual sale from selling food on the street in Borgor, Indonesia amount to $67 million and it is 2.2 billion in Malaysia. Obviously, street food is gradually developing and showing its impacts on aspects of our life.
2.2 The characteristics
As already mentioned, street food is generally a type of fast food, which is sold popularly on the street and includes a variety of materials. Street food is more affordable, convenient and competitive in comparison with others types of food (Alizon 1996). Commonly, street food is cooked on the street and only when being offered, does the seller start to prepare; therefore, almost street food is hot and keep its best flavors. Talk about the features of street food, Dao (2008) affirms that street food is suitable for every age group, both the young and the old like eating street food. However, he also cites the hidden danger of street food for people.
It is obvious that street food can be seen widely in many places, however, in each area, it has a distinct attraction. It is totally acceptable to understand that there are a plenty of types of food sold on the street and different places bring different flavors of street foods. For example, while street food in Vietnam is described as “fresh and lighter than many of the cuisines in the area”, the street food of Thailand is “fiery” and “pungent with shrimp paste and fish sauce” (Dorling 2011).Furthermore, to make a variety of meals, vendors often process food in a numerous ways like roasted, steamed, boiled and many others way. A study by the EPOC demonstrates that in Bogor only, a list of popular street food consists of about 300 items with majority of traditional meals and drinks (Chapman 1894 cited in Alizon 1996). With a big number of meals like this, Alizon (1996) suggests that street foods can be classified into three main types: by meal, by number and type of ingredients, and by level and type of processing. Clearly, the variation is an important factor; which attracts billion people each year.
Not only is street food diverse in list of meals, but it also being sold in a various places. Dao (2008) suggested that the place of selling street food can be divided into five groups: selling food on transports, selling in public spaces, selling in a small house, selling in restaurant or hotel and the last is food sold in festival. In fact, street food is mostly sold in some crowed and moveable places like” markets and shopping areas, commercial districts, outside schools and hospitals, residential suburbs, factories, and construction sites” (Alizon 1996). Visibly, street food is sold and produced under a very simple infrastructure.
3.3The advantages and disadvantages
Street food likes many others problems always having two faces: negative and positive
The street food is now attracting more and more people due to many obvious benefits, namely, its low cost, convenience and its significance with some social issues. It is same in everywhere that the price of street food seems to be the least expensive in all kinds of food. Talk about the advantages of street food, Dao (2008) highlighted that street food is suitable with a majority of people because of the low price. Moreover, he also mentions that street food can satisfy many different hobbies of customers thanks to the diversity in the category.
Besides the benefits above, street food also plays a meaningful role in society nowadays. Street food is expected to be a good way to introduce local culture, which attracts millions visitors each year. For instant, in the Philippines, street food is not just a plentiful source of food; it also is a fundamental part of the tradition and landscape (Henrylito 2012).It takes for granted that street food brings visitors the deep impression of lifestyle and custom in each region. Additionally, street food is considered as a potential market, which can bring a big income and create jobs for the unemployed; especially the women in urban area, whose job is usually unstable. FAO(1989) studies finds a high rate of participation of women in street food trade in some South American countries; for instant, in Colombia, 59 percent of vendors were women, and, in Peru, 64 percent (cited in Alizon,1996).
However, street food can bring people some negative effects. According to Alizon (1996), the safety of street foods seems to be a major consideration, which is now under the cloud of suspicion of many people. In fact, almost food are prepared and processed under bad sanitary facilities, moreover, as mentioned before, street food is usually sold on the road or a very simple places. Therefore, street food itself carries a high risk of disease. Henrylito (2012) states that: “According to experts, all street food, cooked or raw, can cause gastroenteritis, typhoid and hepatitis, depending on the bacteria or viral infection they contain”. Like many other countries, street food in Vietnam develops fast; however, the safe food is one of most serious problem that Vietnam is facing to. Studies actually show that there is a high proportion of contaminated food in Vietnam. Specifically, currently up to 98% of the street food stores do not meet safety standards prescribed by the Ministry of Health (Dai 2010).According to Tran (2008), director of the National Food Safety and Hygiene, states that there are over 55 cases of poisoning food caused by street food to more than 1,300 deaths in the last three years. Thus, street food safe, which is really hard on solving, is an alarming issues not only in Vietnam, but also in many others countries throughout the world.
All the findings above indicate that the increased commonness of street food is still going on in almost every part throughout the world. Undoubtedly, street food not only contributes an important part in daily diet of billion people, but it also plays a vital role in socio-economic issues in lots of areas. In contrast, street food can brings people negative effects, specifically affects people health seriously. There is a fact that the place of selling food is very simple and uncontrollable, moreover, the facilities served for processing food is also under very bad condition. Therefore, street food is always at high risk of diseases. Thus, it cannot be denied that people can take many advantages of street food. However, health is obviously the most important issue so it is necessary to consider carefully about where we should eat street food to ensure a good health.
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