Where to find healthy food in Shanghai
by Chiara Squinzi
Shanghai can be a difficult city for expats who want to stay healthy; bad air, excessive drinking, long working hours, more drinking, smoking in F&B establishments (or really, any establishment), lack of exercise and stress can all influence negatively on our health.
In addition to this, eating out costs less than a pack of chicken, so we end up stepping from restaurant to restaurant every day instead of preparing healthy home-cooked meals.
This is partly because cooking and
cleaning-up takes time; which Shanghai expats don't have a lot of, but
also due to the difficulty of knowing where to find healthy products and
ingredients in Shanghai, so you can make delicious and healthy food at
For a list of healthy food suppliers and establishments in Shanghai, click here.
To learn about juice cleansing in Shanghai click here.
For information on vegetarian food in Shanghai click here.
For healthy food delivery services in Shanghai click here.
For information about celiac disease and where to find gluten free food in Shanghai click here
Although I can not argue with the fact that healthy food Shanghai might be more expensive than street food, I learned to value:
In a city that celebrates everything with a meal out, learning how to say no and, instead, shop and home-cook healthy food Shanghai is a challenging task.
But with the help of this article, you can start looking and shopping for better groceries and eat in more often.
You will gain in energy, shape and sleep quality, I promise you.
Here below is a list of some of my favorite shopping places in town:
Wet markets in Shanghai (several around town)
In these you can find any kind of produce. They need to be properly washed before consuming though; try using a solution of water and apple cider vinegar on your veggies and fruit or other natural-based cleaning products.
and vegetables with a thin skin, like apples, strawberries, peaches,
grapes, nectarines, blueberries, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers,
lettuce and collard greens (called the 'dirty dozen') which contain the most chemicals, I highly suggest to buy organic (or at least to peel before eating when purchased at the local stores).
My favorite organic suppliers in Shanghai:
1) Biofarm (http://www.biofarm.cn/en-BIOFarm-Home.html)
CSA Basket is only 99 RMB or you can order your most loved produce from the weekly list with free delivery for orders above 100 RMB. A visit to the farm close to Pudong Airport is only 30 RMB and includes a 30 RMB voucher for the purchase of veggies or a vegetarian lunch.
2) Mahota Farm (http://www.themahota.com)
For 168 RMB, you can buy a basket containing eight different types of vegetables or get your own customized vegetable box (prices vary). Boxes are delivered (free of charge) within two days of ordering and can be paid for upon delivery. You must call the hotline to place an order; no online orders. Or you can purchase directly at the farm store / restaurant in M Town close to Hongqiao Lu metro station. The organic hot pot restaurant connected to the store is incredible; you can have the richest hot pot with organic pork or organic tofu at only 68 RMB for lunch or RMB 88 for supper. You can also visit the farm in Sunny Island and stay at the resort to pamper yourself (http://www.sunisland.asia).
3) Tony's Farm (http://www.tonysfarm.com/)
With one organic farm located in Pudong New District, and another on Chongming island, Tony's Farm offers 3kg or 6kg boxes which each contain six or more types of organic vegetables. Customers can choose from two types of combo boxes which can be delivered once or twice per week with a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription. Prices range from 1,580 to 17,800 RMB, with delivery inside Shanghai included for free.
4) Organic Farm (http://www.organicfarm.com.cn)
This farm offers boxes and individual items for purchase but you must have an Alipay account (Zhīfùbǎo, 支付宝) http://ab.alipay.com/i/jieshao.htm#en to pay for the goods online or you can pay to their bank account (details available on their website). Delivery is 10 RMB or you can collect the order at 2601 Xietu Lu斜土路. They have other kinds of products too: make-up, clothing, meat and dairy.
5) Shanghai Organics (http://www.shorganic.com/Default.aspx)
This farm offers over 100 kinds of vegetables and grains. The kids' tour of their farm gets great reviews. You might need Chinese skills to navigate the website or use a good translation tool. Most of the produce comes from their organic farm in Songjiang district, but other seasonal items may come from their farms in other provinces.
6) Organic Shanghai (http://www.organic-shanghai.com)
The website is very easy to navigate and you can find from produce to meat, from spices to dry goods. They also have a section with special offers.
7) Lee's Mum (http://www.leesmum.com/)
Their organic farms are on Shanghai’s Chongming Island and in Fengxian district. Although all in Chinese, you can order a wide range of boxes; the regular box of ten types of vegetables and fruit is 120 RMB/order but you can also find tailored selections for the elderly, pregnant women or children. Delivery is free for orders exceeding 100 RMB.
Stores and online stores selling Organic and Healthy food Shanghai:
This is a grocery website that carries organic products and other healthy ingredients like oils, whole grains, raw nuts& seeds, legumes, nut milks, superfoods and supplements, and juices. Don't be shy; if you find something that is not top quality, the company's return policy is really good.
This is a grocery website that carries organic produce and other healthy food Shanghai ingredients like oils, whole grains, raw nuts& seeds, nut milks, legumes, superfoods & supplements, and smoothies.
Avocado Lady: 274 Wulumuqi Lu (乌鲁木齐路274号), near Wuyuan Lu (近五原路)
This small cluttered store is famous among Shanghai expats and has a wide range of imported products at the lowest prices in town (usually lower than suggested retail price). Watch out for expiration dates and integrity of packets; she does have a cat, I assume for keeping the place free of rats. Apart from the avocados that made her famous, she now stocks almost every kind of oil, nuts and seeds, grains (including quinoa), legumes, bars, fresh spices and herbs, homemade jams and hummus, imported gluten-free cereals and some superfoods too. Stay clear of vegetables bound with adhesive tape, which has been reported recently to contain high levels of formaldehyde and benzene.
Sprout Lifestyle (http://www.sproutlifestyle.com/)
They have food stores, an online store, and café. You can find any kind of superfood (no spirulina unfortunately), and other healthy ingredients. They also organize healthy food Shanghai events, which teach you how to use their products. But watch out for expiration dates and integrity of the packets, not to mention the prices that are higher than the other mentioned shopping places.
Online Food Shopping in Shanghai:
If you are a super-laowai, you should have a Taobao account already, otherwise ask your Chinese colleagues, they will definitely help you to shop online; They love it!
Most times, I browse the above listed stores first for my healthy food Shanghai essentials, and then get my final shopping done at these relatively cheap marketplaces: (You can find expiring products on special offer too.)
City shops, Carrefour, Ole Supermarket, BLT, Freshmart, Pines, City
They all have a great selection of produce and some healthy ingredients like oats, olive / sesame / flaxseeds / walnuts / almonds/ grape seeds oils, whole grains, nut milks, teas and unsweetened cacao.
But stay away from any kind of nuts and seeds loaded with salt, sugar and MSG, the majority of seaweed, 'dark' chocolate and in general, anything in the middle aisles.
Chiara Squinzi is an experienced health coach and expat yoga teacher in Shanghai and founder of the first and only female running club in Shanghai, Puxi Run (http://puxirun.wix.com/index).
She has been living in Shanghai for almost 7 years and has a profound knowledge of the city and of healthy living in Shanghai. Her website is http://www.laholista.com/,or you can add her Wechat account: ChiaraHealthCoach