Gaby Dalkin—L.A.-based blogger, cookbook author, and produce enthusiast—has all the answers.

market strategy
Photography by Matt Armendariz
| Credit: Photography by Matt Armendariz

Q. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the market?

I'm very strategic. I'll typically walk the farmers' market once before buying anything, just to scope out who has the best produce. I look, smell, etc., then I'll walk it again and stock up.

Q. What are you looking for?

Mostly fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, and eggs. Someday I'll raise my own chickens for fresh eggs, but that's not happening in my two-bedroom apartment.

Q. What are some strategies for finding the really good stuff?

Ask a lot of questions. I always want to know if any pesticides or chemicals have been used while the plants are being grown and if there's anything new and exciting happening. Being inquisitive spurs whoever is working the stand to be a bit more talkative and let out some secrets.

Q. Is it OK to touch the produce?

You should have common sense about it. I wouldn't manhandle a tomato, but it's OK to touch the avocados. I like them rock hard because then they can ripen at home. And don't be afraid to ask for samples!

Q. Once you get home, what’s the best way to store everything?

I keep a lot of fruits on the counter as a reminder to eat them! But some things should go in the fridge. For berries, I line glass Tupperware with a dry brown paper towel, add the berries, and close two sides of the lid, leaving the other two sides open so a little bit of air can sneak in if moisture needs to escape.

Q. Any advice on what to make?

Fresh, colorful things don't require a ton of work. But I always prep dressings on a Sunday, so it's easy to assemble a salad once I come home from the farmers' market.

Need more inspiration? Pick up a copy of Gaby's cookbook for satisfying recipes featuring fresh fruits and veggies. Buy What's Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food on Amazon.