Facts About Street Food
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Facts About Street Food

Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a vendor, often from a portable stall. While some street foods are regional, many are not, having spread beyond their region of origin. Most street food is both finger and fast food. Street food costs less than a restaurant meal.


Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a vendor, often from a portable stall. While some street foods are regional, many are not, having spread beyond their region of origin. Most street food is both finger food and fast food. Street food costs less than a restaurant meal. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day.

Hot dog stand in San Francisco / Pixaby

Street food is intimately connected with take-out, junk food, snacks, and fast food; it is distinguished by its local flavor and by being purchased on the street, without entering any premises. Both take-out and fast food are often sold from counters inside buildings and malls.


Athens, Greece street food

Concerns of cleanliness and freshness often discourage people from eating street food. Lack of refrigeration is often construed as a lack of cleanliness or hygiene; on the other hand, street food often uses particularly fresh ingredients for this very reason.

With the increasing pace of globalization and tourism, the safety of street food has become one of the major concerns of public health, and a focus for governments and scientists to raise public awareness. FSA hence provides comprehensive guidance of food safety for the vendors, traders and retailers of the street food sector in the United Kingdom.

Street Foods - India

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Pav Bhaji - an Indian street food

Thanks to its low cost and convenience, street food is consumed each day by an estimated 2.5 billion people world-wide. In Latin America, street food purchases account for up to 30 percent of urban household spending. In Bangkok, 20 000 street food vendors provide city residents with an estimated 40 percent of their overall energy intake. As well as being cheap, street foods can also be nutritious. A study in Calcutta, India, found that an average meal contained about 30 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat and 180 grams of carbohydrates.

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Street Food - Bangkok

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Children in Dar es Salaam spend an average of 11 US¢ a day on meals at school

A typical day for children in and around the city of Dar es Salaam, in the United Republic of Tanzania, starts before sunrise, when they are woken to prepare for school. Breakfast is usually a mug of tea, sometimes with milk.

Most students head for the school playground to buy deep-fried cassava from on-site street vendors, whose other offerings include deep-fried potato and deep-fried banana, washed down with flavored water. While that food is filling and helps meet daily energy needs, it generally lacks a variety of other nutrients essential for active, growing children. Unfortunately, energy-dense, but nutrient-poor, snacks are the only foods many of the children can afford.

Hard-boiled Quail Eggs Fried with Flour

Philippine street food consists of simple fare that is easy to prepare and eat and consequently have become the staples of street vendors. Some of the foods are sold already prepared while others are cooked on the spot.

1-Banana-que (plantain) 2-Turon (fried wrapped plantain) 3-Fried Sweet Potatoe

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Street food is often seen as dirty, but this is mainly a problem with unlicensed vendors. While most street foods are not particularly nutritious, they are convenient, and the foods and vendor's carts and equipment are very much a part of the urban landscape.

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South Korea - Street food

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A woman enjoying Thai street food

Street Food - China

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Street Food - Japan

Filipinos are known to enjoy the average three meals a day plus desserts or “merienda” and snacks. One of the qualities that Filipinos possess is their ingenuity to create almost anything into something new, creative yet cost-sufficient, including food. People of other countries may prefer dining and eating pizzas when hunger strikes but Filipinos on the other hand race to the streets to satisfy their hunger for favorite local street food for a few pesos.

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Street Food - Hong Kong 

Word on the street: Singapore is Asia's melting pot, populated by Chinese, Indonesians, Indians, and Malays—a culinary dream team that makes Singaporean street food the most diverse and celebrated on earth. And the safest: All sidewalk chefs here work in "hawker centers," little open-air venues where the government enforces its strict health codes.

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Street food is unfortunately often the victim of the march of “progress” in countries that perceive chaotic street life as anathema to development. Sometimes the rationale is ornamental (street food vendors clutter the streets); other times the objection is poor hygiene but I am not saying ‘all’.

Everywhere you look, it is common to find people crowding make shift or portable stalls in the streets. These street foods are easy to find outside school gates (others protest for health risks), churches, and parks and even in malls where they offer most exotic delicacies.

Tourists flock the street foods in Asian cities just for the benefit of the sensation of exotic foods. The locals bear and promote street foods because of its easy availability and economical grounds while others take a leap on risk to health.


Artemis P. Simopoulos, Ramesh Venkataramana Bhat. Street Foods. Karger Publishers, 2000. p. vii. Retrieved 18 April 2011

"Spotlight: School Children, Street Food and Micronutrient Deficiencies in Tanzania". Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. February 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-20







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Comments (9)

I never heard the term street food before reading this from you. I only like street food when I am at a ball game which is the rare occasion I eat a hot dog.I understand the lack of care of the food preparation and storage as well with this street food. Thank you for an interesting read and a true awakening with this information.

Street food has scared me away. Great information and thorough article.

Excellent and important subject.thanks Ron for raising this issue.

Nice and exhaustive article on the issue of street food.But street foods are the mainstay of daily wage earners and low income group people and even the middle class people sometimes in countries like India.As long as the society remains with ups and downs, such street foods will linger on and they will even proliferate, despite the complaint that they are not clean and not hygienic.We can only complaint about.But who will come forward to remove such maladies?

Ranked #12 in Food Safety

Very well said Rama, this is also happening in the Philippines, thanks for the nice comment. Thanks Roberta, Cynthia and Abdel for the comments.

Ranked #1 in Food Safety

There is good reason to be concerned about cleanliness and the lack of refrigeration but the same situation exists in many fast food restaurants. There is refrigeration, but cleanliness varies greatly from one establishment to the next. Very few people get behind the counters and into the storage areas so they never see the abysmal sanitary conditions that exists in far too many fast food restaurants. I have been there. I have seen it. Most street vendors here in the US keep their carts far cleaner than most of those big franchise fast food restaurants that are advertised on TV.

Ranked #18 in Food Safety

A mouthwatering topic!---Despite of the fact that street food may not be hygienic, I love street food especially we Asians are addicted to it.

I had never heard the term "street food" either but it stands to reason that's just what it is. What a fascinating, superior quality article Ron... my only objection would be food handlers handling money as well as the food but so do the street vendors of hot dogs in New York but the delightful morsels outdo anything at McDonald's or any hot dogs. Excellent write.

Ranked #12 in Food Safety

Thanks everyone for the read, votes and comments, appreciated.