Time was when you’d go to a farmers’ market to save money. These days? Not so much. “I’m old enough to remember when part of the appeal of driving out to the countryside and going to a farm stand was getting fresh produce at a bargain price,” says katzzz. “Simple concept: Cut out the middleman so the money goes directly to the grower and the customer saves some dough.”

But these days, many markets are more like boutiques for luxury shoppers. What gives? Part of the problem is that some farms sell part of their crop to wholesalers, who then sell to consumers. The rock-bottom prices wholesalers pay have to be made up for with higher prices at other selling points, like markets. In addition, many market sellers are small farms, which lack the economy of scale of big operations. They may also use organic or similar growing methods, which require more labor and deliver a smaller yield, all of which raise prices.

All that being said, it’s worth it to many people to support farmers’ markets, and, by extension, locally grown food and small, family-run farms. If you are such a person, StriperGuy has a smoking-hot tip: The Hmong farmers, who attend several local markets, have gorgeous Asian vegetables for great prices. StriperGuy got “pea tendrils to die for” for $4 a pound, “that would be $8 elsewhere.” Other hounds have bought magnificent squash blossoms, Chinese broccoli, ong choy (a.k.a. morning glory greens, Chinese water spinach), cilantro, Thai basil, arugula, and interesting greens like amaranth. Woo hoo!

The Hmong farmers are at many different markets every day of the week; their complete schedule can be found here.

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