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This article was published 11/8/2010 (4054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
RECOGNIZING the enormous popularity and growth of farmers markets across Canada, a major Canadian supermarket chain is endeavouring to emulate their success.
Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is announcing this week that it is "bringing the farmers market to Canadian neighbourhood grocery stores -- all in one convenient location with bushels of variety."
The retailer adds in a news release that a "farmers market doesn't always fit with the realities of Canadians' hectic lifestyles."
But Robert Chorney, president of Farmers' Markets Canada, which represents 550 farmers markets across the country, says Loblaw is just trying to capitalize on the markets' success.
"Farmers markets are a sleeping giant and people love them and they are good for farmers."
Chorney says recent research conducted by his organization shows that farmers receive just 10 to 21 per cent of the retail price of their produce at supermarkets, "not enough for a small family farm to survive on, while at farmers markets they get to keep an average 84 per cent."
Chorney says the beauty of local farmers markets in communities is "you find wonderful, eclectic varieties of rainbow-coloured carrots and heirloom tomatoes that would never survive in supermarket shipping and storage environments."
Culinary activist and cookbook author Anita Stewart says the Loblaw initiative won't come anywhere near what you get at a real farmers market.
"The interaction between consumers and growers at a true farmers market -- one where the person who plants, cares for and harvests the ingredients and then gets up before dawn to supply great food to regular customers -- goes far beyond... shelf stockers."
Chorney says his organization's research has shown shopping at a farmers market involves seven times more social interaction than supermarket shopping.
On Loblaw's suggestion that shopping at farmers markets doesn't always fit into Canadians' hectic lifestyles, Chorney counters that many consumers desire to return to a simpler way of life.
"They want to become more conscious consumers, reconnecting with the earth, the environment and with local farmers," he says.
Chorney points out a 2009 survey, conducted across the country for Farmers' Markets Canada by Experience Renewal Solutions, found the burgeoning success is due to a number of factors.
It found that consumers want healthier, fresher, locally produced products. They believe in supporting the local economy, their community and local farmers.
"And 92 per cent of farmers market shoppers said it was important to them to be able to buy food directly from a local farmer," he says.
-- The Canadian Press