Are Street Foods Really Unhealthy Or Is It Just A Myth?

You may recall that I have a new phone.

Immediately after I got the new phone all sorted with all of the bells and whistles functioning, my computer stopped working.

Actually the mouse quit working…. sort of. It worked in safe mode. Further investigation revealed that over half of my USB ports were not functioning. It’s in the hospital.

Why am I telling you this? All of the stuff I need to post a recipe is on my computer, but I was lucky enough to get this guest post for your reading pleasure.

It fits me at the moment. We’ve been watching food / travel shows on Netflix and so many of them feature street food. I’ve always been a bit leery but as food trucks are getting more popular I want to get braver. I do love the nem at our local market….

Plus there are the souks in Tangier to look forward to next fall.

How about you – are you a lover of street food?

Are Street Foods Really Unhealthy Or Is It Just A Myth?

Who amongst us does not enjoy an occasional street food marathon? You can only do so much to avoid it before giving in to those mouth-watering aromas and an exotic plate of delicious food. But, why do people try so hard to ignore street foods in the first place? Well, the primary terminology that has been closely associated with street foods as “unhealthy” has dragged on for so long that people now actually believe it without proper evidence.

Some people don’t even know the basic culinary facts, and still, they tag street foods as “unhealthy” just because it has become a universal vocabulary associated with it. However, there is more to street food and its hygienic components than just a plain case of being tagged as unhealthy.

So, are street foods really unhygienic/ unhealthy?

Well, you may first want to consider the location of the street food vendor. As in general, street foods are really not known for their hygienic treatment. However, this is not true in most cases. In most western countries and the majority of the Asian continent, where street foods are known to have originated in the first place, street foods are handled with utmost care.

The use of fresh ingredients and other hygienic elements such as gloves or sterilized plastics to handle foods are implemented in most cases. This contributes to a healthy food experience.

However, the association of street foods as unhealthy is relevant in some parts of Southeast Asian counties and India. These are the primary culprits why streets foods are popularly associated with unhygienic or unhealthy. There is very little care taken when it comes to the hygiene of the food that they produce. It would be safe to assume that street foods in such countries can be generally termed as unhealthy, primarily due to the lack of basic hygiene standards such as the implementation of hand gloves or using improper utensils over and over again for multiple customers. These factors can generally contribute to an unhealthy street food experience. However, that is only as far as unhealthy as street food can get.

If you consider street food vendors in western countries, the majority of them follow strict hygiene standards as you would generally expect from a proper functioning restaurant. In fact, with proper hygiene regulation, street foods can prove to be a better healthy alternative food option than most over-priced restaurants. How?

Well firstly, there is the complete visual satisfaction that you get from a street food vendor. Unlike the closed door functionality of most restaurants, street food vendors construct the entire menu in front of your eyes. The choice of the food item or the ingredients depends on your personal health preference, but knowing that there is zero manipulation with the food that you are about to consume gives you additional security. If you follow Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen nightmare show and the number of manipulations that most “standard” restaurants undergo, you would understand the importance of foods being made in front of your eyes.

Secondly, the price of street foods irrespective of where it may be is significantly lesser, and the portion of food that you get is (way) more generous than the higher-priced foods that come out of restaurant kitchens.

Thirdly, street foods are the best way of tasting authentic dishes from around the world. Unlike most restaurants that modify the authentic and traditional recipes to give them a modernized touch, street food vendors stick with authentic recipes to provide a traditional taste.

In the end, it’s rather unfair to generalize street foods as “unhealthy.” In fact, a good and reputed street food vendor’s foods are safer than most closed-door restaurant dishes.

As long as you are not stuck in some specific places where the food quality and hygiene is poor, you can enjoy a good serving of street food or noodle bar without feeling like you just consumed a disease-ridden plate of food.

Last update on April 12, 2019

6 thoughts on “Are Street Foods Really Unhealthy Or Is It Just A Myth?”

  1. We LOVE street foods! There a couple of food trucks we actively search out.

    RE: you machine: Via device manager, disable the USB drivers and then re-enable them OR remove them and then reboot and let the machine reinstall the drivers. That often fixes the “non functioning” USB ports.

    • I wish I’d thought of / known that before I took it to the shop. I’m going there tomorrow to find out what they know. I’ll ask. We love the nem truck at our local market.. as does everyone else. There is always a ine

  2. To be honest I don’t eat street food in Morocco in the souks or the medina. I see it everyday but I worry about where the washing up is done !!

  3. I’ve eaten street food in every country I’ve visited. I’ve never been sick. Having said this I’ll cross my fingers for luck and hope to avoid some kind of karma for the next time. I haven’t been to India where I might have to eat only very cooked foods.

    • I’ve never been concerned about it – as long as the vendor looked clean. I have, on the other hand, been very sick after eating at ‘fine’ restaurants lol

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