Do ‘Real’ Farmers Markets Have a Monopoly on the Term?

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.

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.”

Farmers’ market supporters are also becoming concerned about chains that use the term in their names, even though the stores may promote fresh and healthy foods. Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market, founded in 2002, has grown to 51 stores in Arizona, Texas, California and Colorado.

Cynthia Torres, director of the Colorado Farmers’ Market Association, said Sprouts isn’t a “bad organization” and she supports any purchases they make from Colorado farmers. But, she added, “I also want there to be some integrity” for the term “farmers’ market.”

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