|Women pick up rice at a market in Ha Noi's Thanh Xuan District. Many services, such as helping busy women buy food, have been booming in the capital. – VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS) — In the rush of modern urban life, going to the market every day to get fresh food has become more difficult for women, to whom the responsibility of shopping and cooking has traditionally been relegated. As more and more women enter the work force, managing busy schedules has brought about changes in the way city residents buy and prepare their food.
Phuong, 35, a resident of Ha Noi's Ha Dong District, has relied on her mother in northern Cao Bang Province to buy vegetables, pork meat and rice for her over the past ten years.
"It's safer to buy food from my hometown," she explained.
Her relatives can see, with their own eyes, how the pigs are raised and how much pesticide farmers use, much less, she believes, than farms in Ha Noi's suburban districts.
She returns to her hometown regularly to pick up enough food for half a month.
For other women in Ha Noi, the tendency to help friends and colleagues buy safe food is vital.
Hoa, 30, a Hanoian mother of two, helped out colleagues during the Liberation Day and May Day. Knowing that she would go to her hometown in Quang Ninh Province, her colleagues asked her to buy seafood for them.
She was surprised when the orders began to pile up way beyond her capacity - 40 kilos – but the positive feedback made it worth the struggle. Some colleagues since asked her to buy seafood for them regularly.
"The shrimps Hoa bought taste better than those I buy at the market," said Van, one of Hoa's colleagues.
Thu, a communications officer living in Ha Noi, said some of her colleagues all go in on buying a pig raised in her hometown of Ung Hoa District.
"I believe the meat is fresher as farmers don't use industrial feed," she said.
"The price is not as cheap as what's available at the market, but we know the food's origin," she added.
Helping each other
The increasingly common practise of helping each other buy food inspired some entrepreneurs to turn it into a business. With a smart phone, a computer or just a phone call, food can be ordered, prepared and delivered to a home or office.
It's not hard find such services. A quick search on the internet brings up sites like giupbandicho.vn; NauAnPro.vn or dichothuehanoi.com.
Le Minh Quan, 28, and his wife began the website giupbandicho.vn this year.
After learning about customers' taste and new demands caused by hectic lifestyles, he set up the service to target customers living in residential quarters in Ha Noi that are situated far away from vendor markets.
"At present, I have around 80 customers a day with a shipping fee of VND15,000 (US$0.7) per order," said Quan.
"The food I supply to customers is safe. We signed a contract with a farm in Ha Nam Province," he says.
Le Ha, one of Quan's customers, has used the service for three months. Even with the aid of a helper at home, Ha has a hard time picking out the right food and cannot cook well, she explained.
"As a doctor, I am really busy so I decided to use the service," Ha said.
The price of the food is slightly more expensive than normal market prices, but the tradeoff is worth it, she said.
Trang, a resident living near Nguyen Xien Street, says she happy with the home-delivery service she uses.
"I just think of what kind of food I want to cook and then place the order. About an hour later, I start cooking as all the food has been delivered and prepped," she says.
Others, however, are still skeptical, concerned about the quality of the service.
Huong, 37, a mother of two in Thanh Xuan District, said, "I don't use the service because I don't know whether it is safe. I just trust the food I choose myself." — VNS