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Whole Foods, Halfheartedly

Greenmarketeers’ fears.

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Whole Foods, the Greenmarket’s Union Square big-box nemesis, recently announced a plan to sell more locally grown goods in its stores. But Greenmarket farmers are ambivalent about signing up. Morse Pitts of Windfall Farms says Whole Foods seeks total arugula domination. “Unless you’re big enough to ship it to their shipping center and then back to the local Whole Foods, you’ll be cut off,” he says. “They want to wipe out all the little buyers, so then you don’t have a choice.” Farmers who already work with the chain say that the supermarket’s folksy in-store displays take poetic license. “Has my picture been above a bin of watermelons from Florida? I know it has,” says Brian Nicholson of Red Jacket Orchards, an upstate fruit farm, who’s been selling to Whole Foods for nearly five years. “And does that make me angry? Yes. But how many retailers are partnering with growers?” Whole Foods spokesperson Fred Shank dismisses the hubbub, saying partnerships with local farms are part of the company’s “core values.”

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