I have a problem with Trader Joe’s. The more I shop at Berkeley Bowl and the Farmer’s Market, the more it bothers me. They ask you to bring in your own shopping bags but then almost everything in the store is severely overpackaged and nothing is local.
Roma tomatoes come in hard plastic boxes, zuccinis come shrink wrapped on styrofoam trays, Carrots that have been pre-peeled and sliced come in plastic tubs and cost three times more than a 2 pound bag of unprocessed carrots. You can buy delicious Indian lunches that come in sealed bags that have been packed in boxes and portioned just enough for one person. All manner of frozen veggies are available with little globs of seasoned butter included, also in serving sizes for one or two people… because throwing a handful of greenbeans in a sauce pan with water, rosemary and butter is too hard!
This brings me to the second problem I have with Trader Joe’s… everything that has been pre-packaged three times over is all ready to heat and eat. So much of it is little more than a glorified and improved TV dinner. It is helping to perpetuate the helplessness of the urban dweller. It encourages shoppers to think “I don’t have time to cook” “I don’t know how to cook, it’s too hard”. Seriously! I am not a gormet chef but from the need to eat economically I’ve learned how to make a few really good meals. Salads are not difficult but you can still buy those in a bag. Is it because it’s too time consuming to wash lettuce, and chop up a few veggies?
There are so many Americans who just don’t cook for themselves, they have no idea about what they are shoveling into their mouths, there is too little thought about food and nutrition. There is too much thought about calories and suppliments. TJ’s also has an amazing array of cheap vitamins by the way, because after all eating a balanced diet is just too hard… you will need to be ‘healthy’ and add these pills to your diet. Despite the good things about TJ’s I just can’t deal with how much of it is fully pre-packaged and designed to allow consumers to feel good about their ignorance.
I’m torn. On the one hand they do sell a lot of tasty things that I enjoy, but when I went in yesterday I wound up leaving with my bottle of cheap wine, a pint of sherbet and a seltzer water. All of the overpackaged produce in number 5 plastic containers (my city only recycles numbers 1 and 2 plastic) just made me ill.Be sure to bring back your canvas bag to carry home all of the small plastic bags that your food comes in… you don’t want to kill the earth do you?