LA Foodways Backplate

Ch 4: The Central Wholesale Produce Market

Originally built in 1898, the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market is the largest wholesale market in North America. It has thrived in downtown Los Angeles for over a century, but many Los Angeles residents hardly know it exists. 

Through the first-person narrative of the founding family of the Wholesale Produce Market, viewers are given an inside look at this huge operation’s inner workings. Its 2nd generation founder Morrie Shandler tells us how the market came to be, and how its changed in the last century.  The next generation of owners, his granddaughter Talia Shandler continues to follow their founding mission: work tirelessly on behalf of their farmers to get them the best price possible.  

Viewers learn that despite a dwindling Los Angeles agriculture industry, the food that arrives in the region is able to nourish its population, if managed correctly. Luis Yepiz, a man who works tirelessly for an organization called Food Forward, gives audiences a rundown of how the organization is able to bridge the food gaps between the wholesale market and a population in need of healthy, nutritious food. Audiences travel to a food line at the Church of the Resurrection in Boyle Heights to see how local residents gather and gratefully fill bags of food that would otherwise be thrown away. 

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