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|Hanyu Pinyin||jiē shì|
|Cantonese Jyutping||gaai1 si5|
|Literal meaning||street market|
A wet market is generally a fresh food market commonly found in Asian countries. Some of the common names include "Cultural Markets", "traditional markets", "Gaai Si", "Gaai See". The term "wet market" comes from the extensive use of water in the markets. The water is used to wash the floors, keep the fruits and vegetables fresh, and keep fish and shellfish alive.
The markets traditionally were places that sell live animals out in the open. This includes poultry, fish, reptiles, and pigs. However, since SARS, large animals and poultry are not as commonly found in the markets in Hong Kong, though live fish, shellfish, and frogs are widely available. Some markets also sell exotic animals. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also available. Wet markets also generally include butcher shops with fresh meat. The fresh meat and fish sections are separate from the fruit and vegetable stalls. Many markets also have stalls that sell dried goods, flowers, and processed tofu as well as cooked meat.
The traditional rationale for a wet market in hot climates, before the advent of refrigeration, was that the purchase of a live animal just prior to the time that it was to be eaten was the only way to ensure food was fresh.
In Hong Kong the wet markets are most frequented by older Hong Kongers, those with lower incomes, and domestic helpers who serve approximately 10% of Hong Kong's residents. Recently they have become sites of interest to tourists as places to see the "real Hong Kong",.
Many of the wet market buildings are owned by property investment firms and as a result the price of food can vary from market to market. In general, the owner of the wet market building is responsible for maintaining the building infrastructure. Stalls are rented out to retailers, who purchase and sell their goods independently. This is in contrast to a supermarket which is operated by a single company.
Wet market vs supermarket 
Supermarkets have become heavily industrialized, often using chemicals and other preservatives to mass produce and package for longer shelf life. Wet market products are generally stored for short periods of time and are always expected to be fresh. The process of freezing and chilling and its related thawing can rupture the cells in meat, leading to a common complaint that such products have a cotton wool like texture.
For some customers, it is important to see the animal live before being sold. Specifically, they may want to check its health and quality. This is generally not an option in supermarkets, except in lobster or fish booths. Most wet markets have facilities for allowing a customer to choose a live animal, then either take it home as is or watch it killed and cleaned.
In culture 
In September 2012, Hong Kong lifestyle retail store G.O.D. in cooperation with Sino Art, held The Street Market Symphony Exhibition at Olympian City 2, their first solo art exhibition in a shopping mall. The exhibition used multi-media installations housed in large red lampshades, the iconic representation of Hong Kong's wet markets. They are used to make the food look fresher.
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In many cultures, freshness is desired over the welfare of animals, in some cases to the point of animals and fish being butchered and skinned without first being killed. Animals are kept alive as long as possible, and are often caged in tiny enclosures. The slaughter and butchering has historically been performed in front of customers upon request. The image of butcher shops and markets filled with live animals has been heavily criticized in many countries. To provide this same "peace of mind" to Asian vegetarians and vegans, a large percentage of whom are demanding to personally see their food fresh and still alive just like the meat-eaters, a curious new program has emerged within several of the wet markets.
In small outdoor garden spots, but more often in basements equipped with "growing lamps" (artificial lighting designed to closely approximate the Sun's spectrum), about a dozen of the most popular fruits and vegetables are grown to produce their edible parts as rapidly as possible. The buyer gets that satisfying feeling of taking home fresh, recently-living food, since the buyer is the one who actually picks the exact piece he/she wants.
If sanitation standards are not maintained, wet markets can easily spread disease and viruses. Because of the openness, newly introduced animals may come in direct contact with sales clerks, butchers and customers. Insects such as flies have relatively easy access to the food products. Many times the carcasses are thrown on the floor to be butchered more easily. Both the current avian flu outbreak and SARS can be traced to the living conditions of keeping of live animals for sale in wet markets and the potential of cross infection this presents. In 2008 the government of Hong Kong proposed that all poultry should be slaughtered at central abattoirs to combat the spread of avian flu, however public opposition to such a scheme led to its abandonment.
Depending on the country, food administration groups may or may not require licensing to sell food in the markets. There is usually no return policy. If stale products are sold, liabilities vary greatly depending on how the government manages it.
See also 
A wet market in Singapore
Indoor markets also exist under shopping areas such as this one under Lok Fu Shopping Centre (Hong Kong).
- Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-209-563-1.
- "Conservation (Environment),Wildlife (Environment),World news,China (News),Animal welfare (News),Food (impact of production on environment),Animals (News),Ethical and green living (Environment),Environment,Chinese food and drink,Asia Pacific (News)". The Guardian (London). 15 May 2009.
- Chong, Sei (18 March 2011). "A Guide to Hong Kong's Wet Markets". The New York Times.
- "超巨街市燈現身商場" [Super large wet market red lamps appears in shopping mall]. Sharp Daily (in Chinese). 14 September 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Central abattoir set for 2011