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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 love TJ's but it seems to be hit and miss with the steaks and lamb chops. Sometimes they smell rotten.
Everything else is good and so is their coffee. ;)


03/22/2015 - 9:40pm

To the moron on 3/15/13 who wrote "Cross breeding plants (common for hundreds of years) produces genetically modified food. Get off your high horse." it doesn't. Hybridization is not genetic mutilitation, try not to confuse the two. A generically modified organism or "GMO" is the splicing of DNA with foreign substances like bacteria, viruses, foreign organisms, herbicides and pesticides into cells, then patenting them. Please stop spreading misinformation and educate yourself for everyone's sake.


03/19/2015 - 10:18am

Realized when I got home to dive into the dark chocolate edamame that it had been opened & someone put their dirty hands in it--- where is the SECURITY???


03/16/2014 - 8:06pm

I don't agree with this article. I buy most of my produce at TJ especially avocados, carrots, celery, onions, and broccoli which are all organic at prices much cheaper than WF. The produce are also fresher because of the turnover rate of the inventory. You are going to bag the produce at other supermarkets anyway.

The meat is also another staple I buy from TJ. The organic free range whole chicken is only $2.99/lb and fresh as can be. The other chicken choices are also great; at least the organic free range options. Tons of beef options as well; grassfed beef options and angus beef.

It's true that their cheese section is amazing. But I've had crap cheese from there too; just plain plastic almost.

You pretty much say to skip the fresh options and buy the frozen salt-laden options. While sure, I agree with the convenience but to choose the frozen meatballs over making your own and freezing just doesn't make sense to me unless you are in a time crunch. Anyway, their meatballs contain soy which isn't appealing to everyone.

I recently found out why their wines are so cheap; the grapes are cooked in syrup. They source their wines from companies that are known to do this. Obviously, no one expects amazing wine from TJ. Their wine is definitely not repackaged wine from name brands unlike most of their other items.

Everything in TJ is GMO-free now which is reassuring.

I eat fresh food as much as possible and TJ has helped me do that while staying in budget. This is obviously an old post but I don't think TJ was this bad 3 years ago otherwise it wouldn't have been able to expand so quickly in the last 3 years.

For anyone that comes across this, some other great things at TJ are:
organic coconut oil at $5.49 for 16oz
kerrygold butter salted and unsalted (grassfed butter) at $3.19
organic red bell peppers $3.69 for 3
organic avocados $3.49 for a bag of 4 (same exact bag that is sold of Whole Foods but $2 less)
organic sweet potatoes $3.69 for 3lbs
I can honestly go on.


02/05/2014 - 7:55pm

I buy feta cheese from Israel and use it I lots of ways. I also buy Puffins cereals and have gotten my granddaughters to enjoy it as snack.


11/09/2013 - 1:36pm



10/19/2013 - 6:57pm

i love trader Joes...coconut oil...non gluten oats..chia seeds..cheeses...wish one was in my town...i travel to next town to go every two weeks.


07/29/2013 - 9:22pm

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

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