where to buy nuts, herbs, dried fruits, etc
Post Katrina, your best bet for bulk nuts & dried fruits is Whole Foods (sorry, not cheap); they also have some bulk dried herbs (mostly mixed like herbes de provence). Bulk herbs, depending on what herbs you seek, can be found at Hong Kong Market (Behrman Highway on the Westbank)...basil, cilantro, rau ram, mint, lemongrass, chives. Asian Gourmet Market in Kenner on Williams has bulk cilantro, lemongrass, flowering garlic chives, sometimes shiso, too.
Try the farmers' markets, too: basil, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, etc frequently available, depending on the season.
Pre-K, the Banks St. location of Mona's had an attached grocery that offered pretty good prices on large packages of spices...don't know the post-K status of the market, though I did hear that the restaurant was being reconfigured (has it reopened already?)
Nor-Joe Imports just off of Metairie Rd. near the train tracks has italian stuff (dried, preserved mostly).
The market by Mona's is pretty much like it was before. They do have bulk spices in the large bags, and lots more in the large (soda-can sized) containers. Also large bags of nuts (almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, etc). Fair selection of dried fruits, too.
International Market off Vets and Cleary has a long aisle of large bags of spices as well.