Decades before farmers markets were held every day, and in practically every neighborhood in Los Angeles, before they became as hip and ubiquitous (and necessary) as iPhones, the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market was quietly setting up produce stalls. The market started in 1981, before you could even get fresh herbs in grocery stores (gasp!), and in the years since, it has matured into what many would agree is this city's flagship market. Managed for almost all of that time by Laura Avery, now white-haired but showing little sign of slowing down, the market has neither stagnated nor declined. Instead it's operated as a kind of incubator, showcasing start-up bakeries (Red Bread, Roan Mills) and heirloom fruit farmers (Andy's Farm), as it hosts food trucks (Border Grill is a regular) and radio shows (KCRW's Good Food), while locals buy dinner, chefs pick out what to put on the night's menu and sometimes politicians — or Mario Batali — make Instagram-worthy pit stops, trailing ripe tomatoes and TV camera crews. —Amy Scattergood

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