The Eco-Myth of Trader Joe’s

by Staff, Utne Reader
September-October 2010
Add to My MSN

Shrink-wrapped produce at Trader Joe's
Stephanie Glaros


Content Tools

Related Content

Scented Products Carry a Whiff of Danger

That fresh pine scent may be harming your health and polluting the environment. A study of 25 scente...

A New Front in the Internet Censorship War

Deutschland twitters, blogs and wikis fire up protests in response to the possibility of a new digit...

Nau Don’t You Cry

The demise of the apparel maker Nau was a symbolic blow to the sustainable business community. But s...

The Year Ahead in Green Business

January means list time. Everyone feels entitled to publish an annual top ten list around the New Ye...

It’s easy to get a green vibe from Trader Joe’s: Organic and “natural” products pepper the shelves of its cozy, Hawaiian-themed stores, as chalkboard signs enthuse about bargains on tempeh, arugula, and the like. But as Sustainable Industries (May 2010) points out, it’s difficult to know how sustainable Joe’s really is, since the company is “notoriously tight-lipped” about the sources of its house products.

There’s a fair reason to keep mum: The chain, owned by German mega-grocer Aldi, is protecting its edge. Yet private-label organic goods “seem to contradict what many thought the organic movement was all about: consumers understanding where their food comes from and how it is produced,” the Cornucopia Institute observes. Trader Joe’s sells organic milk, for example, but the chain won’t disclose its suppliers. Ditto for the soybeans used in its soy milk, tofu, and other products.

Customer requests for eggs from cage-free chickens and non-genetically-modified foods have been met, although neither the cage-free nor the non-GMO claim has been verified through a third-party audit, Sustainable Industries notes. The chain also has promised—after being dubbed “Traitor Joe’s” by Greenpeace—to phase out red-listed seafood by 2012.

For now, “customers are accepting that ignorance is bliss,” Sustainable Industries writes. “After all, it’s what keeps the prices low and the Two-Buck Chuck flowing.”







Post a comment below.

 








Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!