Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Market Scene: Santa Monica Farmers Market, California

[Photographs: Rachel Pattison]

It's organic-central at the Saturday Santa Monica farmers market. But it's more than just the quality produce, meats, and dairy that makes this particular market so popular—the downtown location is prime. Adjacent to the highly trafficked Third Street Promenade and a mere three blocks from the Pacific ocean, the year-round market captures shoppers of all stripes. You'll spot locals in Saturday morning workout gear mingling with camera-toting tourists, who meander between vendors with less direction than the weekly regulars.

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Bear in mind: prices aren't low. You're paying for quality organic produce, so if a deal is what you had in mind, you're best off looking elsewhere. But it's a social environment—the farmers love to talk about their food and all are more than happy to give you generous samples of their goods, so if you leave hungry, you're definitely doing something wrong. Ask which apples are best for pies and crisps, or request a hand finding the perfect ready-to-eat persimmon.

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While the Saturday market is known for organic produce, the Wednesday market (in the same location) is where you'll spot the areas top chefs doing their shopping. It's common to spot them thoughtfully hand-picking seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs, to feature on their menus that week. And, if you happen to have the time to stick around, it's worth popping by the weekly cooking demonstration, which features a different local restaurant each week.

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Given the beautiful selection of fresh and prepared goods, it's no wonder that this open-air farmers market attracts over one million shoppers a year. Stop by to check out what's in season, even if it is just to snag a few samples. Your taste buds are guaranteed to leave happy.

Not in town? Feast your eyes on the fresh produce in the slideshow!

About the author: Rachel lives in Los Angeles and is the owner of the food blog Little Chef Big Appetite . To see what she's been cooking in her own kitchen, head over to her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LttlChefBigApp

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