Ask Amelia Food Myths Nutrition

Trader Joe’s Myths and Facts

trader joe's

Like most people, I love Trader Joe’s.  You never know what new cool product you’re going to find on your next grocery trip – and they seem to know exactly what I’m looking for before I even know!

That being said, there some common misconceptions about Trader Joe’s that I wanted to clear up.

What is NOT true about Trader Joe’s

  • Everything in the store is healthy.  Candy is still candy, chips are still chips, chicken nuggets are still chicken nuggets, no matter where you buy them.
  • The meat is higher quality than at other grocery stores.  Much of the meat & poultry at TJ’s is raised with routine antibiotic use.  Sign this petition to encourage them to change!  And/or always buy organic.
  • The eggs are from happy hens.  Yes all Trader Joe’s eggs are “cage-free,” but that doesn’t mean much, as most egg farms have over-crowded barns instead of cages.  It’s pasture-raised, free-range, organic eggs (all 3 of those on a label) that we should buy when possible.

What IS true about Trader Joe’s products

  • Do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Awesome!
  • Do not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  Which means TJ’s is a great place to buy the occasional packaged snack or treat.
  • Do not contain MSG (although you may find other variations of MSG in packaged snacks).
  • All seafood will be from sustainable sources by December 31, 2012.  Good news for the planet and your health.
  • No artificial trans fast.  Naturally-occurring trans fats may be present, but none are added.

Other Fun Trader Joe’s Facts

  • The great value comes from buying direct from suppliers, putting their own label on foods, buying in volume, using local suppliers when possible, and not charging suppliers a fee that’s then passed onto customers.
  • 10-15 new products are introduced every week!
  • Trader Joe’s dates back to 1967!  (even before that, but that’s when the name became Trader Joe’s).

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  • shelley hudson
    August 18, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I also love Trader Joe’s, and I live within a mile of TWO locations! I frequently shop at both stores, and I love the fantastic service (people really seem to love working there). I have two gripes, however…all the extra packaging for the produce is unnecessary, in my opinion, and the stores are difficult to navigate (so people are going all different directions with their strollers and carts). Otherwise, I’m so down.

  • Amelia
    August 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Totally agree about the unnecessary packaging! I wish their produce was in bulk like at regular grocery stores.

  • jules
    March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am

    You leave out the most troubling aspect of Trader Joes and why I choose to never shop there. Everything they sell comes in an obscene amount of plastic packaging. I will never understand how people can be concerned about these personal health issues (antibiotics, etc) and not care that they are turning the planet into a rubbish heap via the routine use of single use plastic.

  • Amelia
    March 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Jules, thanks for your comment. I completely agree with you about the excess packaging used at Trader Joe’s – it makes my heart ache to see all that plastic, and for this reason I almost never buy produce there. However, the packaging is not enough to deter most people from shopping at TJ’s (including myself), so perhaps I will do a post focusing on minimizing packaging when grocery shopping, both at TJ’s and elsewhere.

  • Lisa Foster
    August 26, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I have been buying TJ’s Brown Cage Free Eggs, thinking they were from chickens that were “cage free” and therefore humanely treated. I was wrong. Found out for them to be “Cage Free” they are de-beaked, without anesthesia! Now on the pursuit for truly humane treated chicken eggs. May have to start raising my own.

  • Amelia Winslow
    August 28, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Even though there are some issues with all commercial egg producers, I do recommend Vital Farms – both their organic and non-organic lines give hens the most access to pasture for a better life and to engage in natural behaviors.

  • Deby
    November 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I was misled by a store employee who told me they had a sign up somewhere, although she had no idea where. This sign supposedly said TJ’s foods are free of gmo’s, anything artificial, no hormones or antibiotics, etc. I knew this was a huge misunderstanding on her part. I just rarely shop there because I read labels and I don’t like what I see plus I don’t want to shop where I’m being deceived into thinking I’m eating clean when I n reality the food is anything but. I think it’s nothing more than a name. Sorry Trader Joes but I see through your marketing tactics.

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