July 29, 2008

Getting on the Inside Track at Market

By Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah

TUMPAT: Having inside knowledge of the retail trade has helped Hanim Junoh get the best bargains.

The 37-year-old stallholder at the Gok Kapor wet market in Kota Baru knows the latest market price for items like meat, chicken and fish.

The mother of two uses that knowledge during her grocery shopping at the Wakaf Baharu wet market here on Saturday.

She checks the prices of each item before making her purchases.

"I am not good at bargaining but I will make sure I am not cheated. This time I want to buy 2kg of fresh local beef to make soup," she said.

Her shopping trip took only 30 minutes - and she also bought rambutans and bananas. Hanim managed to persuade the trader to give her a better price for these.

Hanim said she wanted to serve better and healthier meals for her family, especially after she realised that other families involved in the project were better informed about the importance of choosing the right food.

Hanim asked the NST reporter to read out the articles on the other families as she did not understand English.

"I realised that all this time my family had been eating meals that were less nutritious. I did not put much thought into this as I did not know the importance of choosing the right type of food.

"We are not rich. We have to work hard to get enough money to survive but I didn't know that food is also important for our health.

"Hearing about how the other mothers make their choice made me realise that we all want our families to be healthy."

Hanim, however, is expecting problems as her husband, barber Azli Che Loh, 44, and their sons Mohd Afiq, 13, and Mohd Awaludin, 10, may not like the changes.

"They like to eat simple, quick-to-make dishes like white rice with fried eggs sprinkled with sweet soy sauce and instant noodles.

"They prefer chicken to fish and they like fried items. The boys don't like vegetables. My husband and I love fresh vegetables which we eat raw with sambal."

Hanim is happy though that her two sons are not interested in following her on her shopping trips. They will ask me to buy toys rather than food. It is better if I go alone as I can choose food items which are healthier."

Later, Hanim bought a bottle of Sunquick, fresh chillies and a bottle of soya sauce from a sundry shop. Her list was short as she had earlier bought a 9kg pack of rice and 30 fresh eggs.

"I only buy when I've run out of items as we don't have enough money to buy and store at home. I don't have problems getting the items as there are many sundry shops here which stay open till late at night. There are the night markets, too."

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