Healthy Eating On A Budget: Fresh Fruits In Beijing

Perfectly ripe, surprisingly affordable bites of delight.


Last Saturday, after an amazing outdoor experience at Longqing Gorge involving bungee jumping and rowing, I went to Qianmen Street with three good friends for dinner. In the middle of the revived ancient shopping street known for prestigious stores where emperors and empresses visited, I found a cart filled with fresh peaches by their fruitful scent along with a group of Uighur men selling honeydews and watermelons. I was not the only person who couldn’t walk past the rich aroma of melons from the dry land of Xinjiang. Just one bite, and the flesh instantly disappeared, leaving the best kind of sweetness in my mouth.

I love summer fruits in Beijing, all are perfectly ripe, surprisingly affordable bites of delight. They are from all over the mainland, and they are everywhere in the city. Near sunset, some shabby-looking carts carrying grapes, cherries, peaches and honeydews that all appear unbelievably fresh. There are people eating watermelons on the streets, at restaurants, or even on buses – the huge halves of fully ripe watermelons usually cost less than $1 US dollar. My mother, a great fan of peaches and plums in the summer, often expresses her jealousy over Skype because they’re simply unaffordable on a daily basis for someone who lives in Seoul.


Being in Beijing for the second time, I do hear many things about food safety. However, it didn’t take long to realize that wherever I am in the world, fresh fruits are the easiest options to compensate for however unhealthy my diet can be, intentionally or not. Of course there are rumors regarding watermelons with saccharine or peaches drenched with pesticides prior to being placed onto fruit carts in Beijing. But I also believe some foreigners arrive in China with overly conscious impressions of such stories. For me, the streets of Beijing are simply filled to the brim with delicious scent of fruits that it’s not so difficult dismiss such rumors. I know where my priorities lie.

Article by Hyerin Park

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