Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Fruits, veggies, and black market soda at the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market

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Intern Mukta Mohan writing. Today I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to meet the Obscura Society at the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market before sunrise. When I had arrived at 5 a.m., tractors were filling trucks with hundreds of pounds of produce. People were making deals on their computers, and small business owners were examining produce to stock their shelves. Every day, the produce market supplies supermarkets and restaurants so they can feed Los Angeles...all before the sun comes up.

Executive Chef Robert Luna, of Malo and Mas Malo, led a guided tour through the market. He's been shopping at the wholesale market for produce for over 18 years and has seen how it has changed.

The Wholesale Produce Market is split into two distinct areas. The new market which borders Olympic sells primarily to large supermarkets. Meanwhile, the old market which borders Central sells smaller quantities to markets, restaurants, and individuals who are buying in bulk.

Crates full of produce ranging from apples and oranges to exotics like jackfruit and durian were on display on the sidewalk. Even more boxes were kept out of sight in giant walk-in coolers. Re-used glass bottles filled with soda are sold discretely, since their lack of nutritional information makes them illegal in the US.

The Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market is located at 1601 E. Olympic Blvd. If you can get up early, try to make it before sunrise -- even if you're just looking, it's still amazing.

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