Posts Tagged 'Trader Joe’s'

Trader Joe’s Exposed

Trader Joe’s always seemed so American to me: from the plentiful free samples, to the friendly and knowledgeable staff (who actually appear happy to be working there) to the free stickers and lollipops for kids.

So I was surprised to read that it is actually owned by German supermarket kingpins.

Even though it’s a chain, Trader Joe’s comes across as a quirky neighborhood shop, thanks to the Hawaiin shirts the employees wear, and the unique items on offer (pumpkin pancakes and low-fat chocolate yogurt come to mind).

I am now eager to take a trip to Germany to visit some other shops owned by the Albrecht family. I can only hope that free lollipops are the international norm.

Self bagging

Trader Joe's
One luxury I have missed about the US is the grocery store bag help. In the UK, shoppers have to put their own groceries into bags.

I discovered this fact during an embarrassing incident in Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer. The cashier and I smiled politely at each other, staring at the products I had just paid for, wondering why no one was putting them into bags.

For months, I struggled to empty the cart, take out my wallet, pay, then pile it all into bags — often while the shopper behind me was pushing their things onto the scanner.

After a few years, though, I became adept enough at shopping multi-tasking that I started texting while emptying, packing and paying.

This once led to the smashing of a jar of salsa on the tile floor of a Tesco Metro. The store employees were incredibly efficient in cleaning it. I was incredibly apologetic.

In our local grocery stores here in the US, like Trader Joe’s, I stand and watch while cheery workers whisk our goods into bags. I feel silly, standing there, while they work so hard, and I try to help — but they shoo me away.

I want to explain that in my grocery glory days, I was able to unpack, pay, and bag, while texting — (sometimes) without dropping anything.

But they don’t need my help. Often, there are two folks at check-out, making me feel even more like a spare part – a drone that simply pushes a cart.


A beautiful November day
Here we are, in early November, and it’s a day more beautiful than any I can remember in London. It’s sunny, warm, but not too hot, with a light, crisp breeze.

During a trip to Trader Joe’s, I ran into a fellow preschool mom wearing shorts. While living in London, I only wore shorts to the gym. The weather was rarely good enough to expose legs.

Atlantans don’t know how good they have it.

Organic Myths

In my daily trip to Trader Joe’s today, I noticed a packet of organic pop tarts. They were nestled in between the frosted mini wheats, and the organic strawberry corn flakes.

I had come to assume that “organic” means “healthy.” But as someone who is intimately familiar with the hard frosted coating over sweet gelatinous filling that constitutes a pop tart, I know that they are the opposite of healthy.

While living in the UK, I became an accidental organic fan. In our local grocery stores, most food seemed to be organic, whether a shopper was looking for it or not.

So in my first trip to Publix and Kroger here in Atlanta, I was surprised by how little seemed to be organic. I like that Trader Joe’s has a wide array of organic products, so that’s usually where I go. I also enjoy their free samples, and 80s tunes.

But if their organic label includes products like pop tarts, perhaps I don’t understand exactly what organic means. Maybe it’s not synonymous with healthy.

I know that organic food is supposed to contain less preservatives than its non-organic counterparts. But that’s not always a good thing. I got a nasty surprise when I opened a brand new pack of organic English muffins from our local health food store.
Moldy muffins
Maybe preservatives would have kept the mold at bay on those muffins…