(NaturalNews) Grocery stores across the country have begun appropriating the term "farmer's market" as a way to appeal to more environmentally and socially conscious consumers.
At farmer's markets, local farmers gather to sell their fresh produce directly to consumers. The popularity of these markets has surged in recent years and there are now 6,132 of them nationwide, 19 percent more than in 2009.
"Most likely, you can find a local farmer's market in or near your city, especially near rural areas," writes Edward F. Group III in his book Health Begins in the Colon.
"A farmer's market is the best place to buy your food because it is grown in your local environment and picked ripe, plus it supports local, small-production farmers."
Seeking to capitalize on this popularity, grocery chains such as Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market and Sunflower Farmers Market have simply taken the term as part of their names.
Although many consumers still understand the difference between a grocery store and a farmers market, some chains have taken the deception one step further.
In June, Safeway stores in the Seattle area put up signs next to outdoor stacks of produce announcing a "Farmers Market" -- yet the produce being sold was the same as that inside the store. A complaint by the Washington State Farmers Market Association led the store to rename the display.
Complaints had no effect on Albertsons supermarkets in Washington, Oregon or Idaho who have pursued similar tactics, however. A spokesperson for parent company Supervalu defended the term, noting that all the produce on display was indeed grown locally.
Joel Wachs, president of the Washington State Farmers Market Association, is unconvinced by the semantic argument.
"If we don't have ["farmer's market"] stand for a very simple thing -- farmers selling directly to consumers the produce they grow -- then you've lost what so many people find valuable and magic about these events," Wachs said.