Farmers’ Market vs. Farmers Market

What’s in an apostrophe? A lot, if you’re a food activist.

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Who reads more nuance into punctuation rules than copy editors? Food activists! In the California law that has regulated farmers markets since 1977, the term contains a possessive apostrophe. Market managers who maintain the apostrophe believe it indicates that “farmers’ markets” exist “for farmers and by farmers,” says John Silveira, director of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, hastily adding he doesn’t intend to besmirch those who have dropped it. Another naming convention allows farmers’s market…farmers market…whatever…consumers to buy breakfast or lunch as they buy their produce. Though the Cali law limits “Certified Farmers’ Market” vendors to farmers who grow all their own wares, vendors of prepared goods (who can use food from Costco or Wal-Mart) are permitted to sell at a nominally separate (but physically adjacent) market. Got it?

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