（Contributed by Rintaro)
Yes, I work out (exercise) a lot. More specifically, I hit the gym at least 3 times a week and spend one to two hours lifting weights (no, I’m not a cardio kind of guy). And spending that much of time out of your week is only half of the story. Yes, when you lift, you have to be on a very specific diet; otherwise you would not be able to maintain the body mass. And for me to do that, I eat chicken meat. Chicken breast with no skin to be exact. And a whole lot of it. Back in Japan, I would buy 5 to 6 packs of chicken breast on each shopping trip, which would last for a few days.
Silly as it may sound, finding a grocery store in Jakarta so that I can continue on the same diet was one of my prime concerns moving here. With some help, fortunately, I was able to find a local market where you can pick up fresh chicken meat. Oh, and when I say “fresh”, it really is fresh – butchers would cut the birds right before your eyes to your exact liking. It gets very graphic standing there, watching him work.
And I thought I would just live happily ever…well, no I didn’t. I quickly learned that the meat was going bad very fast – as early as on the following day inside the refrigerator. It was giving off a bad smell, and the discoloration was apparent. I had tried to find out the cause, but to no avail. Who knows how much went to waste. Then the other day, I had the chance to talk to a local. I explained how much longer the meat lasts in Japan (often for up to a week in the fridge). Then I was told that stores in Japan must be using an awful lot of preservatives to keep the meat from going bad. What astonished me more was the fact that it had never came across my mind while I was scratching my head at the mystery. And then, I realized how protected an environment I had been living in.
I have yet to find if it really is the case – that meat that you find in Japan is saturated with all sorts of chemicals, but all things being equal (apart from the sweltering heat!), I couldn’t think of any other reason that my chicken breast was spoiling so fast. Ah, every day is a learning day here.