We toured the seafood, meat, flower and fruit markets in Hạ Long Bay, Quảng Ninh – Vietnam. Bustling city streets, choked with scooters led us to the open air markets, where locals converge to get their food. This is where shopping is done. It’s gritty, vibrant, beautiful and bloody.

Basins filled with living seafood give way to butcher tables. White feathered geese, breathing anxiously, almost panting, in rusty wheelbarrows, look on with plausible knowledge of their demise. Fragrant fruit and flower stands line the perimeter; a welcome respite from the very real smells of the flesh and fish market inside.

It reminds me of how disconnected we are from our food. We shop in air conditioned grocery stores and purchase meat and vegetables without considering who was responsible for their procurement. At home, we shop, blissfully unaware of the toll paid for our meals. Here we see the price and it gives us pause.