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The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that there are some farmers’ markets in the Pacific Northwest that are annoyed by the fact that Safeway and Albertsons have begun “posting store banners advertising displays of tomatoes, corn and other items as farmers' markets.” (Safeway actually has responded to complaints by changing the signs to say “Outdoor Market.”)

According to the story, “The chains haven't had much impact on local farmers' markets yet. But there is a fear on the part of farmers' groups that the term could become so diluted that the public no longer feels the need to visit the real thing. At the heart of the dispute is a disagreement about how far the definition of a farmers' market can be stretched. Supervalu spokesman Mike Siemienas said the Albertson signs were justified because all the produce advertised came from local farmers.”

The story goes on, “Some states have come up with legal definitions for farmers' markets, and California even certifies farmers and markets that only sell growers' own produce. But the state can't prevent an event or store from using the term ‘farmers' market’.” Because of the controversy, “the board of the Farmers Market Coalition, a national trade group for the events, in May approved a formal definition: events that consist ‘principally’ of farmers selling their products directly to the public.”
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