SEATTLE—Fans of farmers’ markets don’t always agree on the fine points of what defines the folksy bazaars, but they concur on what farmers’ markets aren’t: chain grocery stores selling fruits and vegetables on their supermarket doorsteps.
Farmers and their supporters have spent several decades building “farmers’ market” into a brand that signifies something specific to consumers, namely, locally grown produce fresh off the farm. Now, to the dismay of farmers’ market representatives, two large grocery chains in the Northwest recently began posting store banners advertising displays of tomatoes, corn and other items as farmers’ markets.
In June, several Safeway Inc. stores in the Seattle area posted signs with the term “Farmers Market” above produce displays in front of their stores. When local farmers’ market groups complained—the offerings included mangos, which aren’t suited to Washington’s climate—Safeway changed the signs to say “Outdoor Market.” A Safeway spokeswoman said the chain has no plans to call its outdoor events “farmers’ markets” in the future.