Trader Joe’s: Yea or Nay?

Trader Joe's

A friend of mine recently wrote about being a little bit disillusioned with Trader Joe’s, and it made me wonder what you all thought about that!

My friend Andrea shared a little bit about her experiences with Trader Joe’s. Like a lot of us, she was thrilled when the franchise finally opened in her town. Before Trader Joe’s came to Madison, where she lived, those enticing packaged foods and cheap wine deals were special treats that she could only get when she visited a town that had a TJs. Recently though, the chain has been losing its lustor for her, especially after learning about how their parent company – Aldi – was linked to terrible plastic pollution which caused sperm whale deaths.

Her piece really struck home for me, because I had such a similar experience. We only got a Trader Joe’s here in Atlanta a few years ago, and my friends and I couldn’t wait to stock up on kettle corn, Two Buck Chuck (which is more like $3.50, because of liquor laws here), and peanut butter pretzels.

Trader Joe’s and Overpackaging

I still love those snacks, but the thing that bothers me about Trader Joe’s is the insane overpackaging. They love to wrap things in plastic! The snack foods tend to come in the standard box-with-a-plastic-sleeve-inside, but many of the snacks I’ve gotten go further and are individually wrapped in even more plastic within the sleeve.

What really gets me, though, is the produce. The vast majority of their fruits and vegetables are wrapped in a plastic bag or those unrecyclable mesh produce bags. It’s a huge waste!

Related Reading: 5 Crafty Ways to Upcycled Mesh Produce Bags

There are things that I like about Trader Joe’s too, don’t get me wrong. That kettle corn is one of my favorite treats, and my husband demolishes their peanut butter pretzels. I still shop there occasionally, but I don’t think of it as the wonderland that I did before we got one in our town.

What do you think about Trader Joe’s? Does your town have one? Do you shop there? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by flippinyank

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8 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s: Yea or Nay?”

  1. Unless things have recently changed, TJ’s does not embrace the Non GMO project. There is very little organic or clean food on the aisles. They will only sell private label products with no local slant in anyway.
    3 have opened in DFW and I will never spend a dime there.

    1. Thank you so much for pointing this out! You are so right – they sell organic produce, but the snacks tend to not be organic. I hadn’t even really thought about that part of the puzzle!

  2. TJ’s tendency to overpackage is just one of the ways the company’s behavior is at odds with its largely lefty-liberal brand positioning. When I worked there, while researching “Build a Brand Like Trader Joe’s”, I was struck by the insane carbon footprint of Naan Bread made in India and shipped frozen to stores in the U.S., pizzas are likewise shipped frozen from Italy, and don’t get me started on the ethics of Fiji Water.

    1. The bottled water at all of these chain health food stores kills me. I was at Whole Foods earlier this week and they had a huge display of bottled water that took up an entire wall.

  3. Overall, I give them a Nay. But I think it depends on what you’re looking for. For some reason I expected Trader Joe’s to provide a healthier alternative to the local Safeway. What I found was basically a candy store with some healthy items hidden in the haystack. In my opinion, TJ’s products are mostly over processed junk food that’s loaded with unnatural ingredients, which is no different than the conglomerate produced food you can get at any big box grocery store. In fact, while my local Safeway may stock more garbage than TJ’s, they actually have a healthier selection of organic foods & sustainably raised meat & poultry. Very disappointed in TJ’s, and for starters I wish they would take a look at the diabetes epidemic in this country & reduce the added sugar that’s in a ton of their products. Oh well.

    1. I like that description a lot – it is very much a candy store! I’m not totally opposed to candy – I certainly eat my share – but like you I thought there would be more organic/healthy options.

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