I have been touring, conferencing and researching for my writing by car for the last two weeks. I have eaten almost nothing but successfully corporate Trader Joe’s from my cooler for the entire time. I loaded up at Joe’s first in Portland, then Seattle, then San Francisco and again in Vegas.

But I’m starting to have some guilt. See, I usually don’t shop corporate. While I’m home, I prefer my local co-op grocery stores. I have an ethic of supportingjoes.jpg businesses in my community, sustainable agriculture and less packaging.

Vacationing or traveling for research usually means that at those times, I am not making any other money. Trying to eat on tour the way that I do at home would require more gas due to trying to get to the right grocery stores and would cost considerably more money than I can usually afford while on a trip. There are some great things about Joe’s that really rock my boat and the number one reason is….

1. Affordability. I’ve had years to price it out. I spend at least $120 less per week when I eat only TJ’s while traveling. Queer women like me aren’t known for being at the top of the “food chain” when it comes to pay scale. If I want to build a future, I must balance my progressive politics with the need to be frugal, save and invest in my own future.

2. Organic/Non-GMO: You can now buy singular organic produce at Trader Joes instead of just pre-packaged groups of produce. In 2001 Greenpeace announced that Joe’s had decided to cease the use of genetically modified ingredients in their produce and packaged products. Joe’s continues to make modifications for health. Organics are very expensive at co-ops and even the local Safe-way because they are a specialty product. They are not priced like a specialty product at Trader Joe’s.

3. Great Labor Practices. They pay a living wage, hire-up from within the store, offer excellent benefits, flexible schedules and foster a communicative team atmosphere. Although they don’t have a web-ready diversity policy, you can see it at their stores. It’s definitely one place I can go to look at hot queer girls. And in most places I see a good deal of ethnic racial diversity as well.


1. I see over-packaging in everything. There are no bulk foods. Many of their vegetables still come in plastic containers. There is no newsletter talking about what Joes does for the community and environment.

2.They do not support local farmers which contributes to the energy crisis as products are shipped often all the way across the country.

3. Other Downsides include Joe’s policy (much like Starbucks) on throwing away day-old food for “safety” and not letting the hungry, homeless or crafty anarchists “dumpster dive”.
So What Would I Do?
I’m going to shop at Trader Joe’s at times when I really can’t afford to shop elsewhere, but I’m going to try to stay away from their products with excessive packaging (more than a bag-as we can recycle all plastic bags now in Seattle) and try to buy their products in recyclable packaging. I carried all of my recycling out of Vegas. Until then, I’m writing Trader Joe’s to add my voice to the others asking for less packaging and some way to incorporate some local products.

Dan Bane
Trader Joe’s
PO Box 5049 Monrovia, CA 91017