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Trader Joe's

Privately owned & operated grocery store chain with 300 stores in 25 states, featuring upscale and organic fare

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  • Mar 23, 2011
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Let me just start by apologizing to all devout-Trader Joe's shoppers. I know, I've been there.

In fact, I started shopping there more than 20 years. Very friendly employees, fun & colorful packaging, easy to handle and perfect for bachelor/ettes & college students, loooow prices, and kitchy titles on self-branded items.

But my boyfriend & I no longer patron them. This is why: Processed foods from far away places (talk about 1500 miles from farm to table; transporting foods is a huge source of global warming); loads & loads of packaging; heavy use of palm oil in every one of their desserts and other products (unless it specifies "sustainable certified", palm oil is the #1 reason for deforestation, esp in Indonesia where orangutans are going extinct); fake "dolphin safe" tuna from Indonesia (false labeling, only one dolphin safe tuna is guaranteed:; and harmful toxic products in nearly all of their beauty goods.

I've sent a letter about the palm oil, talked to more than 3 store managers at 3 of their W LA stores about packaging and toxic beauty product materials...but more customers need to speak up.

Trader Joes never claimed to be an eco-friendly store, but I think most of its shoppers would be shocked to find out just how Un-sustainable they are. I do wonder if they could use some guidance at their corporate office, e.g., a sustainability coordinator?

So until some effort's been made on their part to step green, we'll continue to use their hardy tote bags (made from non-organic cotton), but that's where our buck stops at TJ's.

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March 24, 2011
Wow, this is quite the thought provoker- you're right, they don't claim to be a green grocer but, I do think that most of their patrons make that assumption. I was reintroduced to farmers markets a couple of months ago and now buy as much as I can there. Maybe you should add the fact that you wrote this review and have received some comments? I find that when I have a problem with a business and am not getting a response- I remind them of my social media influence as a consumer via reviews and posts on blogs, Facebook or Twitter and usually get an immediate response. Best of luck to you!
March 24, 2011
Wow, sharing this w/ TJ's is a great idea...thanks!! Maybe everyone who's reading this can also make it a point to talk to the store managers if they re-visit the store. I've learned that it's best to be specific, e.g., palm oil is very destructive...your tuna has false "dolphin safe" logos, from Indonesia...etc. Thanks again!
March 23, 2011
You bring up some very good points! Despite all this I still shop there, I simply can't afford other organic or natural grocers. With that said, I don't buy their seafood, I don't really buy any of their processed things (with few occasional exceptions). I don't buy things with palm oil. I primarily buy whole unprocessed foods that they have enough of. I honestly don't know what I would do without them in the winter when others charge an arm and a leg for the same groceries. In the summer and fall at least I can support our local farmers :) I agree, they are not very Eco-friendly at all, but in that sense I'm not aiming to save the world or stop global warming, I just want healthy food for my family that I can afford.
March 23, 2011
Of course, we all have to do what we can. I think as long as we're educated on the issues (which you totally seem to be) then we can make informed decisions. I live in Southern California so have access to farmer's markets year-round. We also grow some of our foods on our windowsill...lettuce is super easy. But how awesome that you do what you can :)
March 23, 2011
I agree :) I've come a long way from eating processed frozen meals before I started out on this journey with my family. Ideally, I would love to grow most of my own food someday! :) By far the healthiest, cheapest, and most sustainable!
March 23, 2011
Wow, eye opening review! You mentioned sending letters out, have you received any responses? Do you have any suggestions for sustainable grocers? Thanks so much for sharing!
March 23, 2011
Hey! No response yet from TJ's. I'm going to send in another thought so I have a copy and date of it (didn't keep any records of first letter.) If you also want to send them a letter, you can download a template (Promise this isn't a virus or's a weird URL b/c it's a google save of a document that was put online by some nonprofit I can't recall. I saved it onto my desktop) As for responsible food shopping: I'm a big fan of supporting eco-friendly products no matter where you shop. That being said, I love our local Co-Op (in Santa Monica, CA but most cities have at least one co-op) & the farmer's markets. Of course prices are a bit higher at other places, but we've learned to buy less. Seems we always got more than we needed at TJ's, especially snacks! Let me know how it goes..or if you have any other questions!!!
March 24, 2011
Great, thanks for the info, Sheda! I'm lucky enough to live in Berkeley (hippie college central!) where people really care about these issues, so I'm sure I have no trouble finding a sustainable grocery store. Thanks again!
More Trader Joe's reviews
review by . December 13, 2008
Trader Joe's
As the headline states, yes, there's a reason why my friends call me a Trader Ho.  It's because, well, I am.  I'm a ho for Trader Joe's, and I'm not afraid to admit it (I'm also a Cost-Ho, but you can read about that in another review!).      First of all, I love how organized their store is and how they mostly only sell their own line of food products.  This takes the hassle out of having to compare different brands and prices.  Their foods are fresh, mostly …
review by . February 25, 2011
A great choice if you want food without a lot of crap in it but don't want to pay crazy prices. Also, great selection of fairly priced wines. Love the honey moon, velvet moon...any of the moons!
review by . August 01, 2008
Trader Joe's Baskets
Seriously though, it's like my little oasis.  A truly happy place.  My kid gets a balloon... I get amazing selection of what is basically a curated grocery experience, crazily low prices (without any coupons or weird club cards) and a wide array of healthy options -- from organic, to vegan, to just plain yummy.  Feels like that small neighborhood market my mom took us to as kids, when we lived in this little hippie enclave in the midwest.      It really comes …
review by . February 27, 2010
I was first introduced to Trader Joe's when I was attending college in California, but it probably wasn't until I moved to New York that I realized how much I loved that little grocery store. When they opened their first store in Manhattan off of Union Square, it was clear they had severely underestimated how much value people placed on their brand and their products. With many Californians living in New York City the store is always bustling, and there are typically two long check out lines …
review by . March 07, 2009
I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's grocery stores, although I can''t shop there exclusively because they don't have the, er, bad, unhealthy junk food I like. For example, Pepsi. Hey, a girl occasionally needs some Cool Ranch Doritos and Oreos in her life.     Mostly when I go I buy prepared and frozen dishes, because they are fantastic here. Trader Joe's doesn't stock much, if anything, that's not high quality food. (And by this I mean no high fructose corn syrup …
review by . August 05, 2010
One of the Best Grocers
   I don't have a Trader Joe's near me, and that is the only reason I don't give them 5 stars. It would be nice if they had an online store too.      Otherwise, I love their products and philosophy. Great tasting, wholesome food at affordable prices. Their Red Pepper (and Eggplant) spread (formerly Pinjur) is to die for. Trader Joe's gathers tasty treats from across the globe and puts them under one roof. Their stores and marketing have an old-timey …
Quick Tip by . February 28, 2011
Here in Louisville we are being told a Trader Joe's is coming soon. With all of the great things I've read about it on here I'm looking forward to it.
Quick Tip by . January 07, 2011
posted in Grist
Gotta love Trader's! Though it's always annoyingly congested inside this grocery store, I still go for the unique food products and cheap variety of wine. Their layout is convenient and easy to navigate (so helpful when you want to get in and out!) and I've always found their staff to be very friendly. A must-go for healthy food.
review by . November 25, 2009
Sunflower butter Wasabi peas Middle eastern hummus/falafel mix More soymilk variation than Safeway has toothpastes "Two buck chuck", or more importantly, a whole case of booze for $28 (yes, that's California CRV tax for you rather than my math) 19 cent bananas and $1.99 steamed beets Organic fruit in plastic boxes $1.99 grapefruit juice and $2.99 OJ "NOT FROM CONCENTRATE" Samples including pizza and fresh coffee, both in microscopically small servings A "Weightwatcher's …
Quick Tip by . July 23, 2010
Good for lots of neat wines, beers and spirits... their produce selection is poor and most of their other products are typically not local to the stores they are sold in and are typically pre prepared and frozen goods. Asian markets, farmer's markets, Raley's Bevmo and Cost Plus make this place look like a joke.
About the reviewer
Sheda Morshed ()
   Blogger & sustainability coordinator at Working for Green (.com).   Want to know: The latest and most effective ways to keep our earth alive.   Happy to: Spread the … more
About this topic


Trader Joe's is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, California. As of December 2008, Trader Joe's has a total of 315 stores. Its stores are located most densely in Southern California, but the grocery company has locations in 24 other states and Washington, D.C. Trader Joe's was founded by Joe Coulombe and is currently owned by a family trust set up by German billionaire Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers behind the German supermarket chain Aldi. Trader Joe's stores usually have a South Seas (often seen as Hawaiian) theme.


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Food, Shopping, Trader Joes, Vegan, Organic, Health Food, Grocery Stores, Wine Retailers, Gluten Free Retailers, Organic Food Retailers, Vegan Food Retailers


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