1

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Do you trust Trader Joe's?

Answered on August 25, 2016
Created July 17, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Typically, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. For the budget-conscious among us, Trader Joe's seems to be just that. They've got 85/15 grass-fed beef for about $6.75/lb at the one near me. It is labelled "grass-fed" on the packaging, which I gather you cannot do unless the animal is 100% grass-fed (meaning no grain-finishing). Their organic produce at the least 30% and in some cases 50% less expensive than Whole Foods. So how is it possible that Trader Joe's is so cheap? Is there some other form of trickery about which I'm unaware? Do you trust Trader Joe's--not just their grass-fed offerings, but all of their other unbelievably well-priced foods? What do you all think?

8954ae3e0a1a2a89f9002b0975344737

(0)

on August 22, 2016
at 06:05 PM

The beef, both the ground beef and loin steak, are from New Zealand. (I googled and found out). Absolutely 100% grass fed. They never changed their profit margin and cruelty as USA did in the 50's. Their cattle never has a corn diet. They go straight from pasture to slaughter. Australia is the same.

As to their organic produce? No idea. Best patronize your farmers market, as long as they stipulate no spraying (santa barbara does), that's as good as organic for me. And it's way fresher than trader joes or whole foods. 

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:05 PM

If we don't buy local there won't be local anymore. For a lot of reasons we're pushed towards living in urban areas. I'd hate to everything outside of the cities become a big empty parkland.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 18, 2013
at 03:59 AM

Here, where I live, you can get grass-fed ground beef for $5.99/lb at Whole Foods if you buy in bulk. I can't remember if it's 3 or 5 lbs but I think it's a good deal.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on July 18, 2013
at 01:07 AM

gary, I've been to whole foods a few times. it's so far from me though that I never did any real food shopping there- only when I needed a specialty item that I can't find at the regular grocery store. not sure of meat prices there though. produce was pretty reasonable though.

3fc95bca9e723edfbbb72b172798ab49

(1354)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:01 AM

I've seen packages of ground beef at Costco labelled as grass fed. Can't speak to universal availability, though. As for Costco being a step up from Wal-Mart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H-Y7MAASkg&t=0m44s

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 17, 2013
at 11:28 PM

Trader Joe. Arrrr....scurvy knave, second cousin of Aldi...

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 17, 2013
at 11:06 PM

Costco would be barely a step above Walmart.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on July 17, 2013
at 10:22 PM

Are you able to get grass-fed at Costco? Would love to shop there, but I've never seen them offer grass-fed.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on July 17, 2013
at 10:21 PM

We've got Sprouts here. They sell grass-fed for about $7.50/lb. I guess there is price variation nationwide. I have a very hard time finding grass-fed beef cheaper than the $6.75/lb at TJ's. Even US Wellness Meats isn't really much cheaper than that.

3fc95bca9e723edfbbb72b172798ab49

(1354)

on July 17, 2013
at 10:09 PM

Indeed. I switched over all of my meat and vegetable needs to Costco since Trader Joe's just could not keep up. The "make you feel good packaging" absolutely does not make up the difference.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 17, 2013
at 10:08 PM

I live in SF, and those prices are accurate here -- except that here, those count as pretty cheap!

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on July 17, 2013
at 09:23 PM

Wow. I live in LA. What you're describing is very much not the case here. Have you ever been to Whole Foods? If you think TJ's is expensive, Whole Foods will blow you away.

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10 Answers

4
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on July 18, 2013
at 01:04 AM

You have to watch labels at TJ's just like anywhere else. My husband brought home some avocados before he noticed they came from Peru! TJ's also sells California avocados in the exact same net bag with similar labels. There have a been a few times he has brought home avocados labeled as Haas avocados which clearly were NOT Haas. Their refusal to label the origin on some of the TJ's brands concerns me on one hand, but the packaging often suggests producers whom I know are local (we live in an agricultural area with lots of dairies, and home of Alvarado St. Bakery, La Tortilla Factory, etc for the grain eaters in the family). I don't like it that I'm guessing and may not be correct. At the same time, some of their prices can't be beaten and I do trust their labels that state organic certification.

Whole Foods imports items from great distances too, but most of the organic produce is local. Costco items, too, may have traveled a big distance. If you're going to shop at the big chains, you have to be vigilant.

We buy as much of our produce and meat locally as we can, from small farms where we can go and see the animals in the pasture and the crops in the ground. Obviously that wouldn't work for things like bananas, since we no longer live in Hawaii!

F4005ff7dd828ab34443e8eef76726c7

on January 18, 2016
at 07:40 AM

Perú is one of the biggest importers of hass avocados, along with Chile. Most hass avocados sold in the US are actually from South America, not just California. Don't see why finding Peruvian hass avocados at TJs would be an issue. 

2
D396b126240f584bc358e6e4fd84e9e3

on July 17, 2013
at 10:46 PM

I do trust Trader Joes. I've emailed them about their frozen ground beef and they ensured me it's 100% grass finished. Here in Seattle it's $6 a pound, which is about the cheapest I've found anywhere, online or local. As far as their other products go, TJ's products are consistently cheaper than the regular grocery stores around me and I'm fairly certain they're of higher quality.

1
2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

on July 18, 2013
at 03:08 AM

don't trust em nor would I support them. id shop at whole foods in a pinch but your best bet is always directly through local farmers at the farmers market, through buying clubs and CSA's, or local food co-op stores. its generally less expensive when you cut out these middle men and the quality is outstanding. I have never been disappointed by something purchased in this fashion, I have many times been disappointed and felt overcharged for things purchased through major chain "natural foods" stores.

I worked for whole foods MANY years ago, for about 5 years. I stuck around because it paid well and had great benefits but they basically set the standard for "green washing" and branding, they really set people up to feel like you can expect quality while shopping in their store, however if you are really interested in organics, local foods and not paying a huge and unnecessary mark up, support smaller stores, start up your own buying club and prepare to shop more seasonally, its truly better for your health and that of your community of farmers/ranchers and other health conscious folks

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:05 PM

If we don't buy local there won't be local anymore. For a lot of reasons we're pushed towards living in urban areas. I'd hate to everything outside of the cities become a big empty parkland.

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 17, 2013
at 11:37 PM

I do not trust Trader Joe's to be local at all. Grass-fed, seafood, produce, whatever: to sell this low, fulfillment by high volume producers is necessary. Wherever on the planet they can source it. I used to buy their frozen raspberries, until they started importing them from 7000 miles away.

1
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on July 17, 2013
at 09:15 PM

the prices at tj's are expensive in my opinion. the ground beef is $6.99 a lb here so I never buy it there unless I have absolutely nothing until my farm shipment comes in. the farm has ground beef for $5 a lb so it can't be beat.

same with the fruits and veggies. bananas are a RIDICULOUS price. I asked the manager if the sign was correct when I read it because I can get about 12-14 bananas at the grocery store near me for a dollar, but 1 banana at TJ's near me is 29 cents!!!

veggies/fruits are also the same. just too expensive compared with the big name grocery store.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on July 18, 2013
at 01:07 AM

gary, I've been to whole foods a few times. it's so far from me though that I never did any real food shopping there- only when I needed a specialty item that I can't find at the regular grocery store. not sure of meat prices there though. produce was pretty reasonable though.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on July 17, 2013
at 10:22 PM

Are you able to get grass-fed at Costco? Would love to shop there, but I've never seen them offer grass-fed.

3fc95bca9e723edfbbb72b172798ab49

(1354)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:01 AM

I've seen packages of ground beef at Costco labelled as grass fed. Can't speak to universal availability, though. As for Costco being a step up from Wal-Mart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H-Y7MAASkg&t=0m44s

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on July 17, 2013
at 09:23 PM

Wow. I live in LA. What you're describing is very much not the case here. Have you ever been to Whole Foods? If you think TJ's is expensive, Whole Foods will blow you away.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 17, 2013
at 11:06 PM

Costco would be barely a step above Walmart.

3fc95bca9e723edfbbb72b172798ab49

(1354)

on July 17, 2013
at 10:09 PM

Indeed. I switched over all of my meat and vegetable needs to Costco since Trader Joe's just could not keep up. The "make you feel good packaging" absolutely does not make up the difference.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 17, 2013
at 11:28 PM

Trader Joe. Arrrr....scurvy knave, second cousin of Aldi...

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 17, 2013
at 10:08 PM

I live in SF, and those prices are accurate here -- except that here, those count as pretty cheap!

0
F40c84c6ed72522f6d3d13534fba8d89

on August 25, 2016
at 10:32 PM

I feel that Whole Foods is screwing with people's minds. They charge ridiculous prices.

0
Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on July 19, 2013
at 03:30 AM

The Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog group, rates Trader Joes very low due to their refusal of transparency. I like to know where my eggs and milk come from -- TJ's won't tell you.

http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard/

http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/

0
21a1a131a0674d12ef7cdfca8a192e1f

(50)

on July 18, 2013
at 05:16 AM

My favorite item there - Grass Fed Lamb from Atkins Farms...imported from NZ, yes, but amazing quality. Interestingly, I once decided to buy lamb at Whole Foods, and the only grass-fed lamb was...you guessed it, from New Zealand, same farm, only few $$ more!

0
04a4f204bc2e589fa30fd31b92944549

(975)

on July 18, 2013
at 04:04 AM

What area do you live in? I've been to trader joes in Arizona and California and I was not impressed. both TJs had a puny produce section but huge amount of frozen premade meals and the prices weren't that great. Whole Foods is beyond the average persons budget of course but they more than make up for it with the quality of the food and expansive selection in every area. Plus the WF I went to had salad bar, juice bar, fresh seafood, etc.

0
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 17, 2013
at 10:09 PM

First, you are comparing prices to WholeFoods, which is outrageous. Granted, I like the WF selection, TraderJoes will certainly be cheaper than that. Here in Boulder, Sprout's Market is about half of WF prices. I consistently get grass-fed beef for 4.99 to 5.99 lb.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on July 17, 2013
at 10:21 PM

We've got Sprouts here. They sell grass-fed for about $7.50/lb. I guess there is price variation nationwide. I have a very hard time finding grass-fed beef cheaper than the $6.75/lb at TJ's. Even US Wellness Meats isn't really much cheaper than that.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 18, 2013
at 03:59 AM

Here, where I live, you can get grass-fed ground beef for $5.99/lb at Whole Foods if you buy in bulk. I can't remember if it's 3 or 5 lbs but I think it's a good deal.

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