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What to buy and what to skip at Trader Joe’s

By Lisa Gosselin, February 7, 2011 - 12:18pm

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I don't trust them. Pure and simple. Adding your own babe to a brand that someone else and not divulging who makes it is wrong. Who knows if its from China or if its actually non toxic. No thanks. I won't jump on the trendy band wagon just to have something to talk about.


07/03/2013 - 6:38pm

Not sure which TJ's you shop at, but our produce and meat department are spectacular! The prices are almost always better than our local chain grocery store, and the quality is far superior. Sorry to hear that the quality isn't the same :(


06/05/2013 - 10:54am

Trader Joe's says it is doing the right thing about non-GMO products. But is it really?

There's a non-GMO certification project that Trader Joe's is not participating in as to its sourced products. My local food co-op has many products that carry the non-GMO certification; Trader Joe's does not. Trader Joe's apparently tries to source non-GMO, but check out the Trader Joe's corporate website for what it actually says, and does not say, about that effort. Also, many of the Trader Joe-label ingredients come from other countries anecdotally known for bribes and false certifications in their food supply chain.

Online reports say ConAgra recently bought a company that is one of the actual producers of Trader Joe brand items --- look ConAgra up on a list of bad global corporate citizens (along with Monsanto as the granddaddy of GMO produce making pesticide factories to inflame the human intestines causing as yet untold miseries to human bodies as integrated systems, why don't you)? Even the US at a governmental level is so heavily influenced by big agribusiness that organic growing standards continue to be loosened in the US --- why else would Wal-Mart now carry organic lines, you have to ask yourself? --- and in the US, GMO-labeling seems to be federally opposed just as big agribusiness opposes it. (US Republican congressman from Iowa, if online reports are true, apparently has recently attached a bill rider to outlaw individual states whose citizens vote to required GMO labeling.)

Outside of the EU which has better and less corporate-tainted food oversight than the US, the rest of the world's food source reliability (due to routine graft and corporate profiteering) is highly questionable because all food you do not grow yourself now --- or where you do not know the farmer --- exists in a framework of global corporatism. Trader Joe's, for instance, gets its raw organic honey (so labeled) from Mexico, a country where drug cartels routinely murder news reporters such that the truth about what's happening to endanger law-abiding citizens in key drug-related areas never gets reported. The honey from Trader Joe does not say where in Mexico, or from what farm. The international organic certifiers can obviously be bought off (there are online reports, and those are just the reported examples that make it into regulatory databases). It is only logical that I no longer trust Trader Joe's raw organic honey to be really either raw or organic by any meaningful standard. At least for now (please see Delta discussion below) I can buy from a local honey farmer whose farm I can visit, if I want to, because the name and address label appear on the co-op shelf. Local honey from the local pollen of the local flora also tends to help with seasonal sniffling of pollen-related allergies. (But big corporations don't make any prescription drug money off that, do they?) So honey is just one example of why it makes sense to buy locally. And why global corporatism, when it cannot profit, would be opposed to what is good for people's health.

Not that I don't carefully buy some things still at Trader Joe's, which used to be my favorite grocery, having started in high school in southern California and moved to the northern part of the state. But now I shop also at the local food co-op, get a CSA produce share weekly, visit the farmer's markets and sometimes even shop Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods.

Actually the food co-op is as expensive as Whole Foods overall but I find the co-op in general to have much better quality, especially the pastured eggs, probiotic and prebiotic offerings, and array of local produce from identified farmers. (The brands of "organic" eggs at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, in my opinion, due to the attenuation of US organic standards as well as the eggs' online ratings, would never be fit for the health benefits of raw consumption even after careful external washing to remove any potential salmonella-tainted debris).

But, hey, we may soon in northern California be at the mercy of Monsanto, Wal-Mart and ConAgra, if the Governor has his big-business way and sells the Delta water from northern CA to the south (with its many global corporate headquarters as the belly of the beast aka L.A.). Kid yourself not by Governor Brown formerly as a young man being called "Governor Moonbeam." He has changed his political spots in his senior years as surely as if he were a different man more of Don Draper's pro-corporate sensibility, to borrow from popular "Man Men" culture.

Our local alternative press has indicated that 2,660 acres of prime farmland would be taken out of production (because of water-selling intake infrastructure under the Governor's Delta proposal) --- i.e., diverting and selling the water that local farmers would need to grow crops, leaving them with dry, barren fields. Also another 2,826 acres would reportedly become dumping grounds for 27 million cubic yards of Delta project tunnel muck.

What a hypocrisy of misnomer to call it a "Bay Delta Conservation Plan" when the practical effect is to reduce local farming production for local citizens and increase real people's food reliance on mega-corporations which released to the world products like DDT, napalm, agent orange, and GMOs.

If the Governor's Delta project plan can happen in California after this continent's pro-people pro-nature and pro-environment activism movements of the '60's, '70's and '80's started here, heaven help the rest of the country and the globe.


05/20/2013 - 4:36pm

My favorites are pineapples ($2.00 less than whole foods and I've never gotten a bad one), and they ave GIGANTIC bananas for 25 cents a piece. Their bags of brussel sprouts, organic garlic, organic shallots, eggplants and bags of avocados are cheaper than whole foods and great quality but thats about all there is for good produce. They have really good organic steaks, and the frozen seafood (tilapia, swordfish and salmon) are really good. I also buy the packs of wasabi kale chips by dozen! Fortunately for me, my trader joe's is directly across the street from my whole foods and both are ten minutes away from my house so I don't mind making two stops to grocery stops. Whole foods is more of an experience, the meat counter, the wine bar and fresh food bar all of the exotic spices, olive oil and honey that you measure out yourself. Trader joe's is where I go to get the deals and get out.


04/01/2013 - 2:12pm

Cross breeding plants (common for hundreds of years) produces genetically modified food. Get off your high horse.


03/15/2013 - 1:32am

Cheap milk? I don't think so. It's $4.00/gallon. I can get milk elsewhere for about $3.40.


02/15/2013 - 11:55am

yay! trader joe's saved my budget and is delicious


01/30/2013 - 7:37pm

I agree pretty much overall. Meat and poultry, I can get as good a deal at my local Central Market, which is not cheap, but better quality and similar price,ditto for produce. My downfall is buying things i don't need calorie wise like yummy sesame pita chips, better than Stacy's, or the pub cheese....calorie busters Unfortunately, snacks there are one of the best buys, plus beer and wine, cheese, dairy, coffee, tea, pet products are good and reasonable, and my spoiled pets love them, plus frozen and canned stuff. Otherwise, I add Costco plus my high end Central market. And I must confess Walmart for some basics..which I hate but things like cat litter, some personal products, are like half price. Otherwise I would ditch Walmart in a second, because I hate supporting places that treat employees like slaves.


12/04/2012 - 3:47pm

Bought the TJ gruyere today and it tastes like cardboard.


11/21/2012 - 7:32pm

does trader joes ground beef contain meat by products such as "pink slime"


06/11/2012 - 9:15pm

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