L.A.’s 7th Street Produce Market is a major hub for wholesale produce distribution across the region. The market’s largely Latino mom-and-pop vendors supply restaurants, food service companies, bakeries and small neighborhood markets throughout Southern California, the majority of which have drastically cut the amount of food they are ordering in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing closures.
Early in the morning on Thursday last week, a time when the 122-year-old market normally hums with activity, many of the produce “swampers” who load and unload trucks were left with little to do, squatting on plastic crates and leaning on hand carts in the crisp, early-morning air. Most wore disposable gloves, with masks or bandannas pulled over their faces. Forklifts and freightliners sat idle.