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What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

The answer to that question is easy – A LOT.

A family member does this little game with me and it happens over and over. After trying a bite of something that looks homemade, I say, “Mmm where did you get this from?” and she says, “Don’t worry, it’s from Trader Joe’s, so it’s organic.” The fact that people assume all products from Trader Joe’s are organic or healthy or better than what you would find elsewhere is an alarming misconception.

For the last several months, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Trader Joe’s. Many people are questioning the grocery store chain’s policies on genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs) and asking if I personally trust their statements about the use of GMOs in their store brand products – my short answer is no, I don’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s fun, the employees are super nice and helpful and it’s a pleasant experience. However, they won’t share any information with us and are completely cloaked in secrecy regarding their business practices, which makes my head want to explode.

Trader Joe’s Official GMO Statement:

Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. on the label).

 

Given what Trader Joe’s tells us about their GMO policy, we should trust them, right? Or are we trusting them just like many consumers trusted Naked Juice, Tostitos, Kashi, Gold Fish, Barbara’s Bakery, etc. who are or have been faced with lawsuits finding suspected GMOs in their so-called “natural” products?

During my research, I found out there is no regular independent third party certifier verifying their products are non-GMO on a regular basis at Trader Joe’s. It is completely up to Trader Joe’s product supply team to regulate GMOs from suppliers – not the Non-GMO Project or the USDA (for organics) that requires a high level of standards and third party testing before stating a product can be deemed free of GMOs. If there are complaints about a product, Trader Joe’s will conduct verification with a secret third party that they won’t disclose, but it’s completely up to the consumer to alert Trader Joe’s with a complaint.

In fact, Trader Joe’s stated that their products “don’t allow for auditing using the Non-GMO Project because there is an additional cost associated with that.” A representative from Trader Joe’s went on to say, “We tend to not label our products a whole lot, and won’t until there is a government regulation to understand what non-GMO even means, we aren’t going to label products that don’t have specific FDA guidelines.” So this begs the question – what does non-GMO mean to Trader Joe’s? Are they making up their own definition because they claim they don’t have direction from a governmental official?

I reached out to the Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, Megan Westgate, to find why Trader Joe’s refuses to become Non-GMO certified. This is what she said:

“The Non-GMO Project has reached out to Trader Joe’s a number of times over the years, and we remain hopeful that at some point we will be able to forge a meaningful partnership with them. To date, it has been very difficult to ascertain the credibility of their non-GMO claims. We know that many consumers believe Trader Joe’s to be a GMO-free store, but without transparent standards or third-party verification this is impossible to confirm. Many other retailers–independent grocers, co-ops, and Whole Foods Market–are leading the way by requiring rigorous testing and labeling, and it would be great to see Trader Joe’s follow suit.”

TraderJoesProductsGMOs

Trader Joe’s says they review affidavits (the documents that prove an ingredient is not made or contaminated with GMOs) from their suppliers who make their store branded products, but there is no way to verify this. I asked Trader Joe’s if they would send me an affidavit showing proof of non-GMO corn or soy in at least one of their products that wasn’t labeled certified organic and they refused saying, “Unfortunately we don’t share those documents, they are confidential.” They wouldn’t even tell me what country some of the products were produced in either as they do not provide “country of origin” labeling.

I find the denial of my request maddening, considering I requested a similar affidavit from Honest Tea, who is owned by Coca Cola, and they completely complied and sent me the information with the confidential suppliers name blacked out. Heineken Beer also provided their affidavits when I asked them to prove to me they use no genetically modified ingredients in their beer.

Furthermore, when I reached out to the Director of the Cornucopia Institute (the top organic industry watchdog group), Mark Kastel, he stated:

“It is very hard to figure out sourcing with Trader Joe’s.  They heavily depend on private label products which are based on secrecy.  We have said that private-label organics is an “oxymoron.”  Organic consumers want to know “the story behind their food.”  They want to know where it was produced, how it was produced, how the animals and workers involved have been treated, etc.  None of that is possible with Trader Joe’s. Unlike the majority of all responsible brand marketers in organics they have refused to participate in our research studies and are thus rated very poorly on our scorecards that critique dairy foods, eggs and soy foods (etc.)”

 

We have the right to know where our food comes from and what’s in it and Trader Joe’s is refusing to give us this information.

They don’t want us to know which suppliers they are using because it would upset consumers and their suppliers if we knew the truth. For example, Stoneyfield supplies yogurt for Trader Joe’s and Stacey’s (owned by Pepsi) supplies their pita chips. Because Trader Joe’s maintains a limited supply of products, they can buy many of the same items in bulk from different suppliers keeping costs low, which is fabulous, but this comes at a cost of not actually knowing who is manufacturing our food. They keep it secret because the companies they work with, like Stacey’s, don’t want you to know that you can buy their pita chips two dollars less at Trader Joe’s under a private label. This is how Trader Joe’s has become so successful, growing at a faster pace than Whole Foods.

Trader Joes Same Company

There is another disappointing side effect of not knowing where your food comes from because if you are like me and boycott certain companies because of their business practices, it is extremely hard to vote with your dollars and know which products to buy and support. For this reason, if you want to REALLY vote with your dollars, you seriously need to consider what you are buying at Trader Joe’s. 

I have a hard time trusting a company that is not willing to show their affadavits to a customer or prove that their products are in fact GMO free. Trader’s Joe’s won’t spend any of their 8 billion dollars in sales to test and prove their products safe. And they won’t tell us what companies they work with to develop their products or what countries their ingredients come from. Have you noticed that every single Trader Joe’s branded product has “DIST & SOLD EXCLUSIVELY BY: TRADER JOE’S MONROVIA, CA 91016” written on the back? I hope we are smart enough to know the entire line of Trader Joe’s products aren’t all really from California.

label

Since Trader Joe’s does provide a price point that is unrivaled, I can see the financial benefit to shopping there, but not much else. Their fruits and vegetables are usually flown in from half way across the world, packaged in lots of plastic, providing little to no local produce (at least in my store here in Charlotte, NC). This means you could be eating nutritionally degraded produce. I have been a victim to this more than once when I bought produce that I didn’t know was less than stellar and it went bad super fast in my fridge compared to the local produce I get from my farmer or buy from other grocery stores.

Considering Trader Joe’s total lack of transparency, there’s only a limited list of products I would personally trust from Trader Joe’s, here’s what I would buy and not buy:

WHAT TO BUY AT TRADER JOE’S

  • Certified organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
  • Certified organic branded Trader Joe’s products (USDA certified), for example their organic popcorn made with olive oil is a good choice
  • Certified organic milk products
  • Certified organic coffee and teas (like Yogi tea)
  • Certified organic frozen goods like frozen berries
  • Some conventional items on occasion (like kimchi) that do not have high-risk GMO crop ingredients like corn, soy, cottonseed, papaya, sugar, canola, zucchini/squash (here’s a full list of potential GMO ingredients)
  • Paper products – they use environmentally friendly practices and recycled paper

Slide1

WHAT NOT TO BUY AT TRADER JOE’S

  • Charles Shaw Wine, otherwise known as “2 buck chuck” – It’s so poor in quality, some experts call this stuff “grape-flavored soda” and compare it to what “Ronald McDonald is to the cheeseburger.” This wine is not made in a winery rather, “this wine is made in a factory, with a lot of synthetic and concentrated products, like grape musk, added to manipulate the flavors from bad grapes.” (Stick to organic wine with no detected or added sulfites)
  • Non-Trader Joe’s brands that likely contain GMO ingredients like Simply Lite, Reddi Egg, Dare, Orangina, The Laughing Cow, Morningstar, Toffutti, Think Thin Bars, Toblerone, Kashi, Barbara’s Bakery, Annie Chun’s and Power Crunch
  • Trader Joe’s branded products or other processed products that contain high-risk GMO crop ingredients like corn, soy, cottonseed, papaya, sugar, canola, zucchini/squash (A majority of their products contain one or more of these ingredients, until they can be fully transparent, I would not trust them.)
  • Pre-packaged meals like sandwiches, salads, and sushi – many of these items contain ingredients you definitely don’t want to be eating,  like cellulose (wood pulp), or imitation crab meat. Additionally, there’s way too much sodium added to these meals and they can give you a serious case of water-weight bloat and bubble gut.
  • Trader Joe’s branded dairy, yogurt, or eggs, because they are likely produced from animals fed GMO corn and soy and can contain antibiotics
  • Non Trader Joe’s branded dairy, yogurt, or eggs because they could contain (cancer causing) rBST growth hormone, GMOs and antibiotics
  • Non-organic meat or dairy, Trader Joe’s still allows antibiotics and other harmful chemicals – like autolyzed yeast extract (a hidden form of MSG) in their meat.

The most important thing to remember when shopping at Trader Joe’s or anywhere else for that matter, is to read the ingredient lists. Trader Joe’s still allows harmful petroleum- based artificial coloring, artificial flavors, carrageenan, and other questionable ingredients to creep into their stores via other brands and this is something to definitely watch out for.

licorice

If you know someone who shops at Trader Joe’s, please share this post with them. Making smart decisions together is the only way we are going to change the secretive practices of the food industry.

Keep Your Chin Up!

Food Babe

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get more info about what’s really in our food, personal updates from me and chances to win cool organic stuff.

 

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1,120 responses to “What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

  1. This is a great post. I do shop at TJ, but am not a huge fan. The choices are really limited and I feel like I can’t cook a whole meal from TJ.
    Over the years I have asked 4 or 5 employees about their GMO position and I get the same answer every time, almost verbatim. It was exactly or close to what Vani put in her post. They say it confidently but the fact that they just keep repeating the same thing seems off. I am not sold on their ‘non GMO’ stance under their private label. There are a few things there I like and stock up on once a month.

    Also, to clarify, several people commented that TJ never said they were 100% organic. Vani never said that TJ said it. She said many people assume it. Strangely, this afternoon my daughter was asking for a snack and she wanted a TJ ‘fiberful’ granola bar. I said no and she asked why she couldn’t have a healthy snack. I told her, honey, just because it is from TJ does not mean it is healthy.

    We have to read the food labels. End of story.

    1. funny shopped there today , and have been there many times but I am starting not to trust them , first I was looking for the organic orange juice I buy each week for my husband , under the sign for the organic non pulp orange juice was their bran , after looking at it for the organic label and not finding it I complained , turned out they were out and just stuck their juice there in its place , I buy few things there and spend a hell of a lot of time reading labels , because even though they have so many helpful people , when you asked about the product and GMO’s the get stupid all of a sudden , I also mentioned my concern to my cashier and stated I don’t have such a difficult time at whole foods , when you have a question they are open to answer , also they have clear labeling . I understand that they ( WF ) have notified the venders they use that by 2018 they will no longer sell foods with GMO’s . the cashier only said that they were expensive , but I said they are honest and sell what I want , TJ is closer but I can see now that I will be there less and less unless they changed their mind about what a customer has the right to know . I am not playing when it comes to what I feed my family

    2. I am an avid TJ shopper but I will be going to whole foods from now on. They are more expensive but I want to be healthy and GMO free. How could they not even let you see their affidavit if where their food comes from? So shady.
      Thanks Food babe you rule!

    3. Excellent points!
      All of which you shared here has been the lingering, stagnant claim of TJ staff, they parrot (The Trader Joe’s Statement regarding GMO’s is right on their website).
      Although this is true, there is currently and never has been a single proof to back up the Trader Joe’s claim in the least!

      This article was seamless, it exemplifies thee vwry reasons I’d left TJ’s entirely for the past 7 years! In addition, primary shopping at Whole Foods and minimally at the cleanest sections of local grocers, as an organic farmer and local farmers market advocate.

      When Whole Foods steadily reduced Organic & Non-GMO products over the past 3 years, ALL true Whole Foods devotees shared about this circumstance in unison and openly, as prices increased with Amazon “Prime” membership costs!

      I am surprised Health Ranger (Mike Adams) hasn’t rigorously tested Trader Joe’s products extensively! If he were to do so, the whole story would literally fall right out from undwr their shroud of secrecy and deceit, because even their “Organic” products list ingredients of which are absent of any *Organic labeling within the Ingredients List!

      Traitor Joe’s may be the truth, when I articulated an honest, yet supportive and inquiring 3 page letter to Trader Joe’s Corporate Headquarters, addressing key points and aspects as to how they could outclass Whole Foods and win over those fed up with Whole Foods price gouging with the takeover and vast reduction of Organic options, Trader Joe’s lacked even an automated response on both attempts to actually help their store better serve their clients. This coming from an honest and genuinely caring customer, who’s studied functional nutrition for over 20 yrs and yet never heard a peep!

  2. Just because a company chooses not to disclose something doesn’t mean they are hiding something. If they are not legally required to do so, that’s their decision. And I’m pretty sure they’ve that of this. They’re smart people.

    As someone mentioned trader joes has discontinued many products because the ingredients from the supplier no longer adhere to traderjoes standards. I see that you’ve failed to recognize this. And failed to appreciate this about them. I think if you have a problem with the fact that trader joes follows FDA standards and then some, you need to take it up with the FDA…but maybe that’s too big a fish to fryer you. I’ve been a loyal trader joes customer for many years and whenever I branch out to try other stores, I get nervous because I don’t know that I can even begin to trust their products the way I can trader joes.

    The bottom line is that your doubts and nay-saying will not deter people from shopping there. Certainly not enough people at least to actually have an impact. The company consistently grows at a rate of 7%-10% a year and your hating on them will drain years off your life and not impact Trader Joes. Continue lobbying to them to support GMo labeling, ABSOLUTELY!!! But don’t make unfounded accusations based on weak observations at best.

      1. See now that’s circular logic. While I absolutly believe we have a right to know what is in our food, I alsounderstand that the current FDA standards dont allow that, nor is trader joes required to disclose that information. It would be good PR for them to do so, but they are not required to. It could be as simple as they don’t have to, so they don’t, right or wrong, but like I said the problem is with the FDA not Trader Joes

      2. B/c for example Stoneyfield supples their trader joes brand yogurt and that company does not want people to know if you buy trader joes brand (cheaper) your getting their yogurt. They sign contracts with these companies that they are not allowed to disclose that info.

    1. Forgive me, but I WAS a dyed-in-the-wool TJ’s fan UNTIL I just read this most interesting article from Food Babe. I will NO LONGER be shopping at TJ’s until they decide on transparency regarding their business practices & GMO ingredients with the public. I am just learning about all this, but this is enough for me to “vote with my dollars” (and there are PLENTY of them spent on behalf of my household each month) AND influence the MANY families in my circle of influence via school, work and recreation. Your presumption is premature and sophomoric to assume people won’t utilize the many other choices available (especially in large, metropolitan areas) for their families’ food sources. Perhaps you simply don’t have a grasp on the importance and ill effect of GMO’s on growing children, chronically ill people or the elderly with frail immune systems.

      1. I understand your concern, however, TJ’s does better than just about anyone else, so, that’s why I shop there most often. I do focus on their Certified Organic meats, vegetable, fruit, dairy, and other products and go to either local farmer’s markets, Sprouts and Lazy Acres for other organic based products as needed. TJ’s just happens to have most of the items we eat most frequently and at better value.

        Whole Foods is quite pricey and has many products I would not likely put on my table, however, if no one else has something I can’t find elsewhere, I’ll drop in to WFs. I know see that TJ.s continues to improve as the opportunities to buy better product is available and at prices conducive to the economy and the budget of a working family.

        Grateful to Vani for her “encouraging” TJs through her persistence. I”ll continue to support her efforts by emailing/letter writing to TJs on the subject of GMOs, and other potentially toxic foods and products. We should not have to read labels, but, until the unforeseeable future, I’ll continue to read labels.

    2. Katie,
      You are either very young or very naive in your comments about Trader Joe’s practices and what they mean to people who are A: interested and invested in what they put into their and their families’ bodies and B: how that (ever growing) interest will affect the bottom line of Trader Joe’s IF they don’t disclose.

      It doesn’t matter what the FEDS require (and for excellent business practices, it NEVER HAS.) from a company b/c anyone who’s done ANY research on healthcare, food, air or water quality KNOWS that the federal government has NEVER had the best interest of it’s citizens at heart, in fact, just the opposite as has been PROVEN by the revolving door of FDA directors coming from top positions in the very ag corporations they are charged with regulating!! If that’s not a case of ‘the fox guarding the hen house’ I don’t know what is.

      At the end of the day, ANY company will do better to allow transparency in their business practices where health is any way concerned, and most especially today, when there are SO MANY CHOICES for consumers, INCLUDING the ever-growing internet market. It simply makes good sense from a practical standpoint for Trader Joe’s to inform about their sources and the fact that they DON’T speaks volumes… if there’s nothing to hide, there’s no reason not to divulge this information.

      The movement on TJ’s isn’t large enough, yet, b/c the ‘novelty’ of it hasn’t quite worn off, but it will and then the they will feel it in the bottom line and either decide to keep their customer base and make necessary changes or accept a great deal of financial loss. People today are more sophisticated and aware of their food sources, how that food affects their health, and aren’t as likely to succumb to the psychological-propaganda sales tactics that became so popular and effective in the 50’s and 60’s; they are educating themselves and many are willing to pay a little more for peace of mind about their what they’re eating and that number is only going to get larger as the movement increases. Fortunately, those of us in this camp have champions such as Food Babe, Natural News Health Ranger and Dr. Mercola, among others, who are helping us see to that.

      1. Folks who don’t agree with the non-GMO awareness are usually less than educated about what GMO’s are and what has been occurring in the food industry for the past 35-40 years. Other people are aware and are urgent about not feeding themselves, their kids or even pets GMO products. Trader Joe’s has responded in the past to pressure. I know because I was working with Greenpeace during the campaign to remove GMO soy milk from their shelves (which they did eventually).
        They respond to pressure from customers because they are not brain-dead, they know that their customers are driven to buy quality food and that’s why they’re at Trader Joe’s so when Trader Joe’s says (rudely) “Look it’s all non-GMO ok?” and refuse to put it in writing, what they are really saying is “we don’t care”. Any company who does not put it in writing is lying at the counter, lying to you on the box and more importantly is not deserving of your hard earned budget.
        I have been called a loud mouth activist (grandfather and father who cares about what my kids eat), an out of town agitator (a supporter of a number of local, neighboring communities) and a troublemaker (seriously I am not).
        My advice is to stop shopping at any place that will not tell you what you want to know, in writing, on the label and verified by a third party instead of just “trust me”. I find the Trader Joe’s of today to have less selection and while it is true that SOME food is more expensive at Whole Foods it is well worth it. Food is the last place I want to save money. Eat well and above all, know what you’re eating!

      2. Aaron…
        1) That intro was psychological propaganda to denounce her based on her age or maturity, as if that affected her argument at all. Come on now, leave the insults at home. You’re honestly no better off than anyone else.
        2) Trader Joes never claimed to be an all health food store. In fact, although their food lacks GMOs, they still have every other awful thing in their products.
        3) Their food is under a confidentiality agreement, if they’re certified Non-GMO, then they have their food vendors FDA approved because they can’t… they don’t have the factories.
        4) If you’re so concerned that you want to pay 2x as much for the exact same bran d of food, that is your business, but don’t encourage people to do the same.
        5) Trader Joes and the FDA does not want to hurt your feelings, they are not evil and out to get you and kill you and your family with food.
        6) You cannot attack a company who’s main purpose was to save YOU money by marking down brand name products with their name, and primary purpose was providing better-for-you food while making an effort to boycott GMOs and offer lower-priced food for you because they did not reveal their vendor breaking contract to get you your stamp. Be real.

      3. Profoundly imperative points, in fact, most thoroughly articulated!

    3. Organic produce and food is about 25-35% more expensive.
      If you compare Wholefoods generic 365 label vs. trader joes you’ll find it to be more expensive in every way. Rightfully so, as we all know organic food(s) cost more to produce. Based on this fact alone Trader Joe’s starts to look to good to be true, their secrecy on the matter only compounds the issue.

      I remember when the organic movement first started, many brands hopped on the bandwagon and spared no expense to stretch the truth. The term organic is too broad to be reasonably interpreted, there are plenty of things that are harmful but could be termed organic, poison is a good example. The point is should we be mad at Trader Joes for capitalizing on the stupidity of the masses or the very government who is supposed to have our best interests at heart?

      1. I seriously doubt if you remember when organic foods began a “movement”.
        Organic food is what you’re grandparents called “FOOD”, most everything was organic since there were very little chemicals in agriculture until the 1950’s.
        Your figures (25%-35%) are ridiculous. Try these numbers on for size; when a product is listed as non-GMO or Organic the sales increase an average of 37%. What the new movement is that you have witnessed is the “Petro-Chemical Movement” and the GMO movement in American agriculture. I say American because the world has rejected GMO to a extreme degree. 58 countries world-wide have banned or created special labeling laws for GMO food, seeds and non-food products. Two of your points “organic food(s) cost more to produce” and “termed organic” are patently wrong. I grow organic produce, the fertilizer is free from my goats and chickens, I use no chemicals for insects/molds etc, and the soil is alive and dynamic because I use no chemicals therefore my produce is in high demand. It costs LESS to produce BETTER and HEALTHIER food organically. The advent of excess chemicals is getting worse because the chemical companies have purchased almost EVERY seed company in the U.S. and are foisting their GMO seeds and chemicals on the citizens of our country. This is why we do not want to eat what is commonly called “conventional food” anymore, it is sick.
        Sick soil grows sick food and makes people sick. The term organic means that no chemicals have been used to grow the food. Now I understand what Organic Chemistry is. This is NOT what we’re talking about and most sane, rationale people know what that means; Organic and Inorganic Chemistry is a completely different ballpark and has little relationship to “biologically grown” food i.e.; organic. Same word, different use and different connotation.

      2. thank you Robert for the plethora of info however to refer to my numbers as ridiculous is a bit narcissistic considering I am speaking from the perspective of a consumer living in a particular region who has personally monitored my spending on my food and have found those figures to be true: to me. wouldnt it also be obvious to assume food costs differ depending upon where you live?
        It’s great to get a background from the farming perspective and I have no doubt all of your points are accurate but my post was addressing more of the marketing psychology that comes to play – do you think corporations are going to meander into the science of organic and inorganic chemistry to sell their products? I am happy that you have the land and space to produce your own food. Unfortunately the majority of us peasants live in apartments where we have to navigate the tricky landscape of healthy food options amidst a sea of lies and half truths.

      3. I find it hard to believe that many of the Trader Joes products are GMO free or could be anytime soon. I recently had to avoid soy and could only find one baked good in the whole store that didn’t contain soy. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, I don’t know. What I do know is all their cooking sprays contain soy, their breads, their pizza sauce. As most of the soy in the US is GMO I now avoid many of their processed products unless they are organic. I am now shopping more and more at Whole Foods and a little at Sprouts and to stretch that dollar further Walmart as they do have some healthier options that are very well priced.

    4. Katie, You are spouting circular thinking-better know as Common Core backward thinking-sounds to me like you’re an employ, possibly in management.

    5. Katie – Katie – Katie…what wonderful idyllic place on planet earth do you live?

      “Just because a company chooses not to disclose something doesn’t mean they are hiding something.”

      REALLY?

      Are you a five-year old?

      I am being serious too…you have to be EXTREMELY naïve to make a statement like that in today’s society.

    6. exactly! The FDa and other places who require labels through testing, also charge anyone who wishes to get that label or stamp of approval thousands of dollars just for the honor. This forces organics& free range items to be overpriced where no one but the rich can even afford them. I am low income but still prefer organic tems& humane meats. I can barely afford my lical co ops. I also do not comprehend all this paranoia and insanity over what people eat, when it comes to other things like fats, salt, preservatives, Etc. I eat what I like& want. I do not concern myself with huge salt content or fats, and guess what/ my blood pressure is slightly low but healthy, not high. My ” good” cholesterol is perfect& the ” bad” type is actually low. I eat TONS of sugars and have no diabetes or glucose issues at all. My major concerns lie in how animals are treated while being raised for meat, and whether my dairy has medications inside it, or the after effects of factory milking. Thats repulsive to me.My other concern is things being organic, regardless of salt and sugar content. I want my sugar and fats organic! I eat a lot of vegan foods by choice even though I am no vegan, because I prefer the flavors. I prefer soy to dairy in taste. I prefer brown rice to white, due to its flavor. I really dislike non gamey meats. My choices are NOT all based upon some crazed level of nutrition and diet, but rather on humane practices, and flavors. I just happen to prefer flavors of soybeans and nuts, over burgers and pizza. Nothing wrong with that! I am not thin, I am around 40 Lbs too heavy. Yet my blood and health tests all come back perfect and good. So in spite of diet, there has to be something to this organic thing. All Id like is to know does TJ suppliers use humane or free range farming. Aminal care is my big issue. No gestation cages etc.

      1. Our government (and especially, the FDA) is supposed to protect us, and sometimes it does, but more and more, it is influenced by the corporations that it is supposed to regulate – so, let the buyer (that’s you and me) beware.

    7. she wasn’t really ‘hating on them’ from what I could tell, she was sifting through things she would and would not consume from there! if you re-read what she wrote, she actually started off letting us know how much she likes traders!

      take a good long look at the label (last pics on her post) of the ingredients of the licorice, as one example! is trader joes that pure and wholesome selling products with red dye. If I were as naive as you to think traders was so innocent (they are a giant corporation for God sake!) I wouldn’t think twice about picking up a box of that pretty colored licorice and eating it, without knowing just consumed a bunch of unknown garbage that is not healthy.

      the old adage, get what you pay for .. they are cheap and there is a reason why. they don’t disclose because they are hiding things, again -reread her post.. they don’t want you to know that pepsi (major offenders as we already know) has a hand in some of their products! how much more evidence do you need.?
      you have to carefully pick and choose in these places as she was suggesting in her article!

      the days of trusting an outside third party for our food , will hopefully come to some sort of end one of these days.. it’s a recipe for corporate greed and disaster! you don’t have to look far in this country to see evidence of that!

  3. Excellent point about reading labels. Puzzled by the example, though – not sure that artificial flavor or color is a whole lot worse than wheat glucose syrup, treacle, palm oil, or mono- & di-glycerides.

  4. My cousin works for Trader Joes and says:
    This is BS! And we DO have certified organic green label products. We do have strict regulations on Non-GMO products. We stop carrying products if they dont meet the standards. All Trader Joe’s products are Non-GMO. People who think everything is healthy and organic from our store is just dumb. And the article cant prove anything, except that they cant verify where the products come from. Management is trained to know all this. I don’t buy everything at my store and i don’t think everything there is healthy and yes, always look for that green certified label.

  5. “They don’t want us to know which suppliers they are using because it would upset consumers and their suppliers if we knew the truth. For example, Stoneyfield supplies yogurt for Trader Joe’s and Stacey’s (owned by Pepsi) supplies their pita chips.”

    As some have pointed out before me, the reason for this confidentiality is standard business and profit. It’s not that consumers would be aghast at what Big Label brand is behind the TJ’s product,TJ’s has an agreement to sell a great product from a widely-known brand under their own TJ’s label at a low price because they pay cash and are able to move a high volume of product.
    The big label wins because they have another outlet for their product, and TJ’s wins because they have a product that has already been market tested and shown to be popular, without the added expense and hassle of doing that research. Boom, up on the shelves at a lower price than mass retailers.

    Unfortunately, yes, this makes it tricky to design a system of transparency–how do you allow customers access to source information like geographic location of production, packing, and distribution, or conditions of fields during harvest, or working conditions for packers and bakers and such–without exposing the very piece of information that allows TJ’s house label to be offered at such a low price, the name of the big label behind that product? It’s evident that there is no perfect way to do so, or TJ’s would be doing it. They value informed consumers and provide as much transparency and information as possible, this is the next step when a solution becomes apparent.

    Also, third party testing and oversight is very costly in this country, the USDA is notoriously bureaucratic about organic and non-gmo labeling. It’s more effective to turn to them and demand that food labeling be overhauled to include more pertinent information like, gmo status, true ingredient lists that don’t have loopholes allowing undesirable things to hide under a different name or be omitted as “necessary components of food preparation having a negligible effect on nutritional content.”

    In the end, if you actually get in touch with TJ’s in a non aggressive manner, they will almost universally be happy to track down whatever information you need. It’s definitely accessible to them at a store-level, just ask if you have questions!

  6. If Trader Joe’s does not use GMO’s in their products why don’t they indicate that on their packages. It is very easy to say not me when you do not stand behind wht you say.

  7. Just bought organic blackberries from TJ yesterday. Had to throw half out today as they had mold. :(. Thought I grabbed organic blueberries…frustrated that I grabbed nonorganic in my quest to find non moldy blueberries. Read labels and be aware! And continue to read their labels… TJ brand changes ingredients. Must be due to changing suppliers. So hard and frustrating to shop for my family and having to always be sooo aware of each food I choose to put in my cart. So much to always research !

    1. Feel free to take back any of your inedible purchases at TJ’s. They are good about it and I would imagine if each person did just that, maybe, they would reconsider some of their products. I’m a big fan of TJ’s because it’s small, has many organic items that I use,, but, I totally agree with Vani, check the labels. We shouldn’t have to “check the labels”, but, until that changes, busy people with many things on their minds, will have to do just that.

  8. The main product they sell which I have doubts about is their 100 calorie dark chocolate bars-sweetened with beet sugar. I called them and they said it was non GMO but why not use cane sugar instead?
    I do buy some things there-sunflower seeds, frozen organic peas, kerrygold butter, some organic frozen stuff and their organic produce

  9. I never trusted TJs after seeing “natural margarine” for sale there 20 years ago. Yeah, you can call anything “natural” legally but only a sleazy company would do so.

    1. Twenty years is a long time. According to Wikipedia it has changed hands some 4 times.

      As for pita chips, Stacys might make tj chips but the taste and ergo recipe is different. It is common for an industrial bakery to make bread for different restaurants per their spec. That is how Chart house did it thirty years ago. Baking bread is a specialty.

  10. I applaud Food Babe in everything she does. She is just trying to illuminate the condition of the food we buy.
    I also applaud Trader Joe’s because, I think, they are trying. I write copious amounts of emails to Trader Joe’s to assert my food safety issues and to try to get them to reduce suspect ingredients like canola and soybean oil, and they listen. Two years ago almost ALL their products, that contained oil, had CANOLA and now it is difficult to find it listed in any of their products.
    I self-police what I buy with the information I get from Food Babe and other food saftey activists, and I buy accordingly. I do not buy foods from Trader Joe’s that contain suspect ingredients, and I do not buy anything that contains non-organic meat or dairy. I am smart when I shop there to protect myself and my family’s health. You cannot beat their price on organic, grass-fed beef or organic chicken–so much less than Whole Paycheck. If I buy anything that contains corn or soy, it had better be organic. It is no one’s fault but my own if I buy food with suspect GMO ingredients. I vote with my money. If EVERYONE did, GMOs would be GONE.

    1. Everything you said, but, I have not written to the company. I do frequent the customer service counter. Whatever works. It’s a challenge to keep costs down, have quality as well as consumer safe products , variety of products as well as choices in those products and keep the doors open. I commend them for trying to do all of that. Whole Foods has similar products but at a much higher cost.

    2. there is nothing wrong with canola oil! all it is is rapeseed oil under a new name because US people are waaay too sensitive. Everyone thinks they should try to police OTHERS and I have issues with that. What if I want organic food choices that are also not low calorie, or oil free? Maybe some of us prefer good flavors, fats and sugars, oils. But at same time also want our foods natural or organic. You CAN have organic sugars and fats and oil! Not all organic shoppers are health nuts. If only organic stuff available were bad tasting, fat free crap, what would people like myself do? Forced to eat unnatural stuff just to find sugars? Come on now! Contrary to what most of you serm to believe, not Every person who chooses natural, organic and non gmo foods, are concerned with content otherwise. Not all are watching their weight or salt intake. Some of us simply like natural stuff.

      1. Canola is gmo, partially hydrogenated, and highly refined. It causes heart problems and other organ problems and cancer. Plus the extraction and refining process involves high temperatures, and harmful solvents ,like hexane, some of which remain in the oil after extraction. An additional deodorization process turns some of the oil into trans fatty acids.
        The majority of canola grown is gmo and treated with high levels of glyphosate which has its own laundry list of health damaging effects.
        I would prefer to eat olive oil, coconut oil or any number of oils that occur naturally and are extracted easily. If you want to eat canola go ahead, but I think it is a harmful option. I won’t be eating it!

  11. Yes, let’s attack one of the few inexpensive alternatives to crappy Walmart food. I am thankful for TJ’s – yes read labels, not all their food is organic! It sure is a lot better than most big box grocery store choices however- especially for people who cannot afford Whole Foods! We supplement our diet with local veggies and eggs and do our best with the rest!

  12. I think it’s hilarious how they encourage and even pressure customers to bring their own bags (or buy a trader joes bag) and be resourceful when almost every single product even most of the veggies in the store is wrapped in plastic

    1. Yes Wil, the inverse argument was used to justify plastic bags instead of reusable bags.

      I have been bringing my own bags well before tj came to OC. I find it easier. I fit more food in one bag and it has a convenient handle.

      Today the city I live requires reusables so tj follows along.

      The Walmart my father shops is another city so it’s plastic bag city. The fish is packed in a plastic bag and each one is also packed in plastic. The outer bag is placed in a Walmart plastic bag.

      My governor wants the state to eliminate plastic bags to clean the ocean but an East Coast bag makers lobbied against it because of lost jobs.

  13. I agree with those who are not buying into their ‘TRUST ME” response.

    Since there are more of us then them, I wonder how they would feel about a Class Action Suite since our health is on the line, and we the buyers have a right to know the truth behind their “stone walling” our questions what are we really eating?

    1. How can you not buy into Trader Joe’s “trust me” response and yet completely buy into whatever Vani Hari is saying? She has NO qualifications whatsoever. She studied computers for godsakes. I’d much rather listen to actual scientists and food experts thank you. Look it up – a lot of her statements are widely discredited by the scientific community.

  14. Speaking English (only?) is considered a sign of freedom? Yikes, bet it’s the only one you speak….

  15. Peace. I just wanted to say that I am a big fan of TJ’s. I find variety of organic produce there at a reasonable price being that I am on a budget. I do not see what is the big deal for them revealing all their private information if it is not required by the law. But I do know that they are resourceful in helping you with whatever it is you need to understand. Like they have a kosher list of all the foods they offer that are kosher and like someone else commented, if asked not so forcefully, they will try to get the info you needed.

    As we all should know, that the laws has changed that now some companies can resource their own inspectors because the USDA does not have the people to do so. Another thing is that what The FDA consider healthy for us is always behind some kind of agenda and has many loop holes for big companies and names. As that being a fact how can you trust regulators that has been allowing these gmos to be sold in stores with little or no rules to regulate them in the first place????

    The argument here doesn’t seem quite right. Yes we should read labels no matter what. But if I had my own comapny I myself would be lenient to some of the people who request my information because some of them work for these big companies who want to capitalized on everything. Probably try to put the farms and places TJ’S get there products from, or try to buy them out.

    Did you ever think maybe the companies they work with do not want there information to be disclosed for protection from these capital giants? I mean you know it is organic if it molds, but people still complain because they want the produce when they want it and complain about the spoiling of natural and organic food. That is why they have GMO foods to please our nature to always wanting things all the time.

    If a plum is not in season, than it shouldn’t be in our stores. That is how TJ’S is. Instead of trying to critique and mob attack one store that is offering organic food to families that have budgets and at good prices. Focus on the FDA and their standards. Focus on the big companies and their lobbying efforts to put the little people out of business. Use common sense anywhere but change our own habits and stop complaining.
    I have not once had a disappointment with the products at TJ’S and I am grateful there is a store like this.

    1. Are you serious??? No company/store is perfect! I shop at TJ and I have started shopping there more often, but I have had a few complaints. Like when I found out what ingredients are in their breakfast bars, cookies and other non organic products. Which is the same as other stores, I realize.
      I did go a few weeks ago to buy the Organic Strawberry Lemonade and they were all expired except one that was soon to be expired which was very disappointing. I contacted customer service which NEVER actually responded.

      Okay, that was just a couple of things except they should replace their Organic produce more often. Other than that I do like TJ for ORGANIC items, although I feel strongly that they SHOULD be honest and upfront about whether their products contain gmo. I feel that TJ should have a higher standard because even in their product descriptions they make like their foods are better for you and made better.

      Don’t be a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing.
      *In the end they will get more quality customers that don’t mind spending a little more for an honest product than bs.
      * I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be fooled.

  16. TJ’s Organic Heavy Whipping Cream is the only whipping cream I have been able to find without carrageenan. For that I am very thankful, as products containing carrageenan make me very sick.

  17. Organic farmers and NON-GMO PROJECT participants have to go through such stringent tests to prove they are organic and GMO-FREE, yet the companies loading our food with pesticides and poisons have to do nothing except keep producing their crap! Just think about that for a minute.

    1. thank you exactly ! its cheaper to give people cheap, messed up food full of crap, than good real foods. This fact HAS to be changed& turned around now. They blame obese people for their own issues, call them lazy. While the whole time, it is the fact that we cant afford proper diets, because it IS the govt and FDA that are causing all these food issues. Who trusts the FDA? Not me! Thats the same group who rush dangerous medications onto market, then the med kills people& FDA could not care less. FDA, same ppl who legalize alcohol but make drugs illegal that harm less people yearly. FDA cannot be trusted& Id trust TJs before FDA anyday

  18. Kashi does have some cereal that is certified organic and certified free of GMO. I typically just buy organic items at TJs, except my dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

  19. I have never trusted Trader Joe’s and it had nothing to do with GMO’s. When they first opened in my area, I grew suspicious because their convenience foods were full of junky additives, and it made me wonder about everything they sold. I only buy one or two things there on average, a few times a month.

    I worked for a local health food store a while ago, and I learned about labels, GMO’s organic, etc. I remember their struggle to keep foods that contained white sugar out of their store. Of course, they gave in at some point, in and now carry items with sugar, but I think about how far things have degenerated in the healthy food world. We used to worry about cookies with “evaporated cane juice,” and now we have to worry about frankenfood in stores that claim to stock “healthy” food.

    I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to take the claims of TJ’s (and Whole Foods, for that matter) with a grain of salt. If you like TJ’s then, shop there. But shop there educated.

    Nobody is protecting your health but you.

  20. If Trader Joe’s disclosed their companies, then they couldn’t offer lower prices for their quality items. I am grateful that TJ’s wants to give us quality food at lower prices, because I can’t afford Whole Foods. Of course you have to read labels and educate yourself about ingredients. But as long as Trader Joe’s isn’t giving money to stop GMO labeling, then I don’t think you should worry. Or just buy organic. Really, TJ’s is not the bad guy.

  21. As someone who has worked for Trader Joe’s I will say one thing. This company cares about knowledge. Walk into a store and ask an employee a question. If they don’t have the answer and it is Monday thru Friday they can call the Customer relations anytime business hours. These people are incredibly knowledgeable. I call them about mercury levels in smoked salmon, no hesitation, they know it off the top of their heads. Does anyone ask how expensive GMO testing would be company wide with the MANY MANY distributors we work with? Does anyone realize what that would do to their prices? If a GMO certification would cost share with the people who did the tests, how many companies would not try to do so?

    The fact is GMO testing is EXTREMELY expensive for a company that doesn’t want to raise prices but still stands behind their products. Don’t like something? bring it back no questions asked! Seriously I do this everyday. The return policy is so lenient because we trust the product. Articles like this are fear mongering and will eventually force something that will make us test everything and raise prices for an article called: “Trader Joe’s USED to care about the middle class.”

    I know as someone who has worked for the company this may seem like a placement to advocate them, but it isn’t. I do 90% of my shopping there. We aren’t an end all grocery store. We know you shop other places too. We don’t want to be an end all grocery store. We want to be a store you can get most of your shopping done for a fair price and with great quality and customer service. If you want ride a high horse in somewhere, try Whole Foods, I hear they have stables.

    1. Ummm, I don’t think anyone “tests” for GMO content. It’s more of an exercise in tracing origin of ingredients. And to those who say we shouldn’t have to read labels…I think that’s why the labels are there, so we can read them. At least the gov’t got that part right!

  22. I only buy stuff there that’s on your buy list, and their prices are way cheaper than the Whole Paycheck (Foods) within walking distance, therefore I don’t see the need to change ANY of my shopping habits.

    We also have Sprouts out here in SoCal, have you written about them?

    1. I shop 3 different stores, 2 local grocery stores and a Whole Foods. I am hearing people say how expensive it is to shop at Whole Foods. Let me tell you what expensive is; medical bills. Eating cheap food that is basically powdered and dry ingredients devoid of nutrition because it must have a long shelf life so it must be stripped of everything that may spoil (food and nutrients). An excellent example is brown rice. Uncooked Brown Rice will not have much more than a few months
      of optimal life shelf but has enormous amount of nutrition whereas white rice will last 30 years if stored properly but has very little nutrition except for the carbohydrates.

      If you want to “save money” on food and end up starving your health you better grab a calculator because chances are you’ll be spending much more on medical bills than you planned. Processed food is more responsible for “Diabesity” and a
      $6 Trillion a year disease industry than anything else. This feeds the medical and pharmaceutical industry. This is a War on Food and Trader Joe’s can’t seem to discover which side they’re on… caveat emptor!

    2. MMalone,

      We now have about 5 Sprouts here in Utah, I love these stores and shop there a couple of times a week. Their produce is the best anywhere and their prices are surprisingly low. I don’t get the uppity attitude there that I feel at Whole Foods. An employee was telling me they plan very rapid expansion over the next 7-8 years nationally.

  23. I don’t shop at TJ when I see some of the same products at Walmart’s … that’s a clue in my book. I shop mainly at Whole Foods but they have disappointed now for the second time. I pay high dollar for high quality foods … so I feel when something comes out for example 365 organic corn is produced in China labeled USDA Organic … this is nothing but a lie! They should take it off the shelve’s. And now I just found out about Horizon dairy products issues that’s been going on for years thanks to foodbabe. I guess I need to research everything! New saying … trust know one … do the research … make sure your buying high quality and don’t just believe it because it say’s organic. They need to be find for lying!!!

  24. you forgot to highlight “natural flavors” on the one item. that is code for msg.
    and beware of “corn sweetner”. I suspect it is code for hfcs.

  25. My family shops at TJs. The atmosphere is positive, friendly and you NEVER see sick, unhealthy, pajama pant wearing people standing in the Line Of Death (Pharmacy)…WalMart.

    We tend to eat clean and healthy, best we can. We read the labels and if the labels reveal the bad stuff, we don’t buy it. A lot of raw foods go in our bellies, so it’s easy to choose an organic carrot, rather than trying to read a label on a box of processed “who knows what”.

  26. First, I have really enjoyed the Trader Joe’s shopping experience.

    That said, I have found several products that make me sick. I cannot eat my favorite nut mix with Cranberries, Almonds, and Cashews (and others) without getting sick. There must be something going on or that would not happen.
    So Sad

  27. Hi, re; TJoe’s.
    2 summers ago, I asked Tj’s about their seedless Watermelon. How can a seed become ( non-reproductive, unless it is altered)? A TJ’s clerk was not helpful-he wanted to debate that TJ’s never sells altered products… He told me to go to their website. I did. Then I spoke to a PHD from corporate, who would not admit that their seedless watermelons were genetically altered.. I stop buying their seedless watermelons.
    I now buy in season the regular (black seeded) watermelons from a farmers market and we juice the total watermelon. Rind, skin and seeds. Very healthy…

    1. Watermelon like other seedless fruits have not been genetically altered in the lab. Hybridization has selected for the seedless variety. This is another form of natural selection.

    2. Seedless watermelon like most other seedless fruits is a result if hybridization not genetic alteration. This is another form of natural selection.

  28. We finally got a Trader Joe’s in Houston and I’ve been there 3 times. Unless there is something I specifically want (like a bottle of water)and am standing outside I probably Won’t go back. My sister and I spent 35-40 minutes there each time as everyone has said it’s so wonderful. Well, at ours other than the olive oil, some CA labeled nuts and really familiar brands we both had a problem inthat you can NOTtell where the food is from. Sure they say it’s healthy, organic or whatever but I personally want to know where the food I am getting comes from. Think about it: do you want rice that might be from Japan right after or even now with the reactors still leaking? Fish from any of the seas offshore there? Oil that you can’t tell where it’s grown? Why ARE all the vegetables packaged up? I want to choose my own. Packaging wastes $, brings more plastics in and some of those plastic wraps just make the food smell. Also, as noted they go bad sooner and you really can’t see the freshness as well. We have a ton of fresh veggies, fruit and local meats in TEXAS so’s if they are local and mostly organic I use them. I like my olive oil from Italy, Spain or even CA occasionally- I don’t want to just see a CA bulk address. Even on the Costco Kirklandbrand they usually tell you country of origin. I want clear nutrition info not just an ingredient list. We got a few items, very few and we’re not impressed with any of them. I can actually get most things now from Kroger as we have yelled so much the organic dept in 2 stores close by are almost equal to the regular veggies. We have wheat, milk, gluten, sugar and salt problems so it can be hard following diets. But when you get more than 300 mg of salt in a day makes you half blind the next day you really start to read labels. We do have a newWhole Foods less then 2 miles away and Central Market about 5 but as someone said, they cost more . So unless I want a specific product or just want to enjoy some of the specialty foods I don’t bother.

  29. It is commonly understood due to TJ advertising that TJ branded products are non-GMO. Therefore if TJ is lying it puts itself at great risk for fraud prosecution in a court of law. Therefore, it is much more likely that TJ is like Steve Jobs Apple who protected supplier secrets. Clearly supply is major part of TJ success and it wants to protect that asset conservatively. Some may disagree like FoodBabe but then raise funds via KickStarter and test a batch for glyphosate. If fail and suppliers cannot justify failure then sue for endemic lying.

  30. You can slyly figure out which farms or companies TJ’s uses. Example: companies that have recalls on items must make it public and make it known what products are contaminated, where they are sold & the names of the products. You can look up recalls on FDA website. Lansal, inc provides TJ’s hummus. There was a recall in 2014 for TJ’s and Archer Farms at Target. So.. You can figure some things out and where they came from if there was a recall.

  31. I can remember 10 years back wandering through TJ’s thinking “Where in the heck is everything from….Monrovia????” I went online way back in the day and tried to dig up any info on their Origin of Product and COULD NOT find anything. So glad this conversation is happening. I think when there is such held out secrecy on a stores products something is fishy. Lots of plastic packaging, lack of transparency, to-good-to-be-true prices, the whole Nautical marketing theme to make us feel good like were on a cruise ship just makes me leery of the whole place. Man over-board Im out!

    1. That is the fault of loyal fans from CA. The founders were hippies from South Pasadena. When they sold to Aldo of Germany, the sea theme was going to be replaced but the sellers warned against that due to the loyalty of people like me. When I was in a Philly suburb there was a divey Aldo but I didn’t realize a link to tjs.

  32. I used to love to shop at Trader Joe’s and then I experienced two different instances that made me distrust them and now I only shop there occasionally. I purchased organic sweet potatoes and ate most of them. I had one in the cupboard for about 8 months and I decided I throw it out, because I am sure it was a moldy mess!! I pulled the bag out and to my amazement and surprise the sweet potato looked like I bought it yesterday!!!
    I am a flight attendant, and I bought the all natural, no preservatives, pizza rounds in the fresh food section. They were thin bread rounds with feta cheese and spinach on them. I brought the bag with me on a trip and left my food bag in my hotel room. Lucky for me, another flight attendant was getting on the hotel room van and said he would get it and drop it off at our Denver headquarters. A month later ( I am based in San Francisco) I was able to pass through Denver and pick it up. I immediately opened the lunch bag to pull it out and again was expecting a moldy mess, but once again to my surprise it looked like I bought it yesterday!!!!

    Makes me wonder what Trader Joe’s does to their food ….

  33. Wow, I will change the way I shop at Trader Joe’s. I don’t eat most of the foods listed on the stay away list, but I feel much more informed and appreciate you sharing this helpful information. Thank you Food Babe!

  34. Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi’s. I’ve only been to one Aldi’s (in Alexandria, VA) and let me tell you, it’s gross. The food there reminds me of what would be in a food bank instead of grocery store and that’s sad. The food banks I’ve seen are full of food no one else wants. Trader Joe’s is a marketing success story. My significant other and I often wonder why people think it’s all organic simply because a few things sold there are organic. Safeway and Giant sell organic, too, but they aren’t considered organic stores (rightly so). For organic in the MD/VA/DC area, go to MOMs – Mom’s Organic Market. Period.

  35. First of all, I think a lot of people are wishful thinkers if they think in the 21st century food or anything else for that matter is not contaminated. I hear so much about GMO, which most plants we eat at this point are genetically modified be it by science or nature, so what. Organic food, which I do support to an extent, but face it, there is virtually no oversight in the US and if you think an organic farmer who’s crops are under attack will simply let them die rather than spray non organic pesticides on them while nobody’s looking, that’s wishful thinking. The mortgage on the farm becomes much more important than what is on the plants. If you think you are getting anything at all labeled organic originating from a third world country, in particular Latin America and you think it is actually organic, that’s wishful thinking. In Ecuador and Peru they’ll put whatever label on the package they think will help sell the product. So when I see organic quinoa I have to laugh. I travel there extensively, and see the farmers out in the fields with pesticide tanks on their backs. The worst part is, these people get no training from the manufacturer and now caner is becoming prevalent. Finally, since quinoa has become the new fad, demand has placed prices above the range of the locals who have consumed quinoa for hundreds or even thousands of years, but can no longer afford it.
    I also hear a lot about grass fed beef. Well I like to ask, what’s in the grass? For instance the US west coast is experiencing particulate size pollution deposits originating from Asia and their coal fired power plants. Grass being a natural filter picks these particulates up and cows eat the grass. Since these cows are afforded the opportunity to graze for long periods of time, wouldn’t it stand to reason they are more concentrated with pollutants such as heavy metals like lead and other coal fired waste? How about the milk they produce? Or cheese? Yogurt?
    My point is, it’s not the year 1500 so our food supply is contaminated with many chemicals as a result of industrialization. Until we stop hyperconsumption, how do we expect our own land to sustain? Remember, America is five percent of the world’s population. We consume 25% of the world’s resources.

    1. Well said and though out. It is kind of scary to think…. It seems the “sane” way to eat now is to do one’s best in buying fresh fruits and veggies that you feel are “safe,” as well as dairy, fish, chicken, and beef. Yeah, we can’t be sure about the 100% organic, pesticide free thing in our foods, but we can try to minimize their effects on us. On the bright side, I’d like to believe our bodies will filter out many of these toxins and other unnatural substances in our foods…. yes, thankfully if you have a working liver and kidneys, they will do wonders for you.

      Another thing…. NO ONE LIVES forever….. Our goal should be to live healthy for as long as we can so when we get older our quality of life has not been terribly diminished. So with that said, I still intend to enjoy on a rare occasion a nice burger from Cheesecake Factory, or a cheese pizza (Brooklyn for that, oh yeah~)…. as they say, live and let live! 😀

  36. In other words, they’re liars. You are in the food industry and you mean to tell me you don’t know wth gmo is?! So, they are probably putting in the worse food AND are paying money AGAINST food labeling/transparency. No Trader Joe’s ‘Screw’ you!

    How the hell do you say you don’t know what GMO is but WHATEVER it is, we don’t have it?! WTH?! I’m sorry this pissed me off.

    GREAT article btw. Thanks so much.

  37. I am also skeptical of Trader Joe’s, and I really enjoyed this post. The fact that they are unwilling to disclose their practices, to me, says there is something to hide. Like so many, the first time I shopped there, I was excited to see all of the affordable organic options. BUT, then I purchased one of their organic coffees (for a great price) and was absolutely grossed out when I brewed it and smelled an overwhelming scent of petroleum within my cup. I threw that away immediately, and refuse to drink it again. There’s no way that’s organic practice. Key point here…be skeptical and use caution with these products until they start opening up about their practices and get a 3rd party verifying the organic approach.

  38. I don’t know if many of you are aware of the New World Order and its plan to reduce the human population by 90%. The U.S. government along with NATO is committing mass murder, either directly or indirectly, throughout the world, and they will soon be doing so at home when the dollar collapses and we have a police state. Also, a U.S.-initiated preemptive war (which means “we” strike first) with Russian and or China is possible given the pathological neocons who are running the show behind the scenes. Yes, strive to eat healthy now, but within a few short years, GMOs will be the last thing on your minds. (See the corbettreport.com, globalresearch.org, activistpost. com, boiling frogs, and many other alternative news sources to learn about what’s really going on in the world and the millions of people who are being killed, maimed, or sent into exile by the global elite. On that cheery note, happy label reading!

  39. Charles Shaw wine does not have “synthetic and concentrated products, like grape musk, added to manipulate the flavors from bad grapes.”

    Read the New Yorker article on Bronco Wineries, the company that produces Charles Shaw. It’s cheap because it’s surplus wine from more expensive wineries.

  40. Exceptionally excellent piece, Food Babe. Very substantive and fair (you pointed out the good and what you would buy, as well as what to avoid, why, and your overall concerns with TJ’s lack of transparancy re their No GMOs policy).

    I have been wanting a TJ’s here in my area for years and years (there used to be zero in the entire state of Florida). One was just recently (finally!) opened here in my city (St. Petersburg) just about a month ago. I LOVE it because I can find some organic items there are shockingly good prices. However, as you so rightly point out: the single most important thing you can do when shopping there or anywhere is to read the small-print ingredients list. Some of TJ’s own products contain a lot of junky ingredients. Others are very pure and free of ingredients I don’t want. So far, I’m very impressed with certain things and I’ve learned to completely walk away from others. My overall impression is that I appreciate the many organic, pure, wheat and corn free items I can get at uniquely low prices, yet I passionately agree with you that I don’t trust the non-GMO promise as far as I can throw it (not sure how far I could throw a promise, but you get my gist) and I therefore think it is crucially important to follow all the guidelines in your awesomely substantive piece, AND to keep up the pressure on TJ’s to evolve on the transparency front. So far, I like them a whale of a lot, yet there is definitely room for improvement and we need to let them now we are rooting for it to happen, asap.

    1. P.S. Typo correction (sorry, my eye strain thaaaang is acting up, resulting in blurred vision, resulting in typos!): Make that, I can find some organic items there AT shockingly good prices, not ARE shockingly good prices. Oh, the humanity.

  41. Isn’t there a petition website that can be created to demand that Trader Joes complies with providing honest and verifiable evidence of the safety of their food to the public. I never questioned their Non- GMO policy, because I always thought the claim was backed by a third party certified organization. I blindly trusted their claims. I feel so stupid.
    It infuriates me when a product’s origin is not listed; and I will not purchase that product.
    Trader Joes what are you hiding from your customers. I am an loyal Trader Joe’s shopper; but I will not shop there anymore, not until they come clean to the public about there food practice. They are very arrogant. I think Trader Joe thinks we ( the trusting public )are fools.
    Thank you so much for this information. I will do my due diligence, to find out more information regarding your article. If your article is valid, maybe we can start a State Wide Petition.

  42. Regarding Food Babe’s comment about “Charles Shaw Wine, otherwise known as ‘2 buck chuck’ – It’s so poor in quality, some experts call this stuff ‘grape-flavored soda’ and compare it to what ‘Ronald McDonald is to the cheeseburger.’ This wine is not made in a winery rather, this wine is made in a factory, with a lot of synthetic and concentrated products…”

    Not only that but just recently a Denver lab tested wines and the 2 buck chuck white zin was in the top 10 wines that “may” have high arsenic levels.

    http://www.kmbc.com/entertainment/food/wines-that-may-have-high-levels-of-arsenic/31915476

  43. Glad to see this article.

    And there’s probably a lawsuit in the making. For several reasons, but this article is about food.

    I’ve worked at TJ’s for 8 years now, and can tell you that most of what they say about GMO’s, no additives, flavorings, etc. is garbage. And they intentionally mislabel products to appear that they’re organic or free of things that shoppers don’t want to eat.

    Yeah, they have good prices, but people think they’re getting superior food at a price cheaper than other places, and it’s not true. Trader Joe’s managers start out at $80,000/year, and can go up to $140,000. They typically put people in those positions who’re under educated and otherwise will never, ever have another chance in life to make that kind of money. So these people just put on the blinders and accept what they’re told to say to customers. And a lot really believe it, otherwise how does your conscience let you sleep?

    While they say they don’t advertise, they use at least one of those companies that “protects your image on the internet.” This company has accounts on a lot of social media sites and their job is to blather on about how great Trader Joe’s is, AND TO ATTACK anyone who says otherwise.

    It’s just cheap, albeit unique, food. But not a deal if you’re trying to stay away from GMO’s, chemicals, sustainably harvested, etc. For cheap food try Target and Walmart. At least they don’t lie about it.

    Thanks for the forum to share my rant.

  44. I used to shop at Trader’s Joe’s, but when I was not able to get answers to where the organic eggs, milk or other products came from, I stopped shopping there.

    I spoke to the manager at the store, called the corporate office number and no one had that information.

  45. Testing DOES cost money and I’m sticking with Trader Joe’s on this one. If you trust them when they say something is gluten free, why lie about GMO.. NO, refusing expensive testing or monitoring is NOT an admission of guilt..

  46. Don’t forget the soya lecithin. If it’s not organic, you’re safe to assume it’s gmo. And that is in a LOT of their products.

  47. A vast majority of Trader Joe’s products are made by CONAGRA and RALCORP. Their behaviour is what is called in the EU (Which is where they are from) “Parasitic copying of Branded Products”..to benefit from the development of these products and derive a financial benefit from what is not said, mainly what is kept from the public. They want to intimate that the products are made by reputable companies by making them appearing similar the the original and there betting the public will assume or think that they are as good equal or better in value….. Biggest scam of the century.. I think. WHY DO YOU THINK THET HAVE SO MANY RECALLS ASSOCIATED WITH THE REGULAR FOOD INDUSTRY AND THE THE NATURAL FOOD INDUSTRY???
    Remeber the peanut butter recall…. “OH we lost our supplier hogwash…”
    Remember the recent HUMMUS…recall…Trader Joe’s along with Target and Costco… what does that tell you.. Wake up Peeps…

  48. Don’t forget about the “health and beauty” section. Turn those packages around and its terrifying! All filled with garbage, allergens and cancer causing chemicals in a lovely package. I think people just assume all of the items in the store are good for you for some reason? At the end of the day this is a business like any other that is out to pay their Bill’s and turn a profit. It is up to us to do the work and protect ourselves.
    Peace love and happiness to all.

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