(Aug. 30) Minneapolis-based Sunflower Markets LLC, operating under area parent Supervalu Inc., has announced a plan to open 50 Sunflower Market stores throughout the U.S. during the next five years.

The chain, focused on natural and organic foods at value prices, opened its first store in Indianapolis in January and said it had a second unit planned to open this week in Chicago and three more in Columbus, Ohio, by spring 2007.

Sunflower describes its concept as a "modernized farmers market" that relies on self-service and smart technology to reduce costs.

The grocer also touts its selection of locally produced foods in each store and has walk-in produce coolers accessible to shoppers.