Trader Joe’s — A Rant

by Zora O'Neill on March 8, 2006

Although I don’t dislike Trader Joe’s quite as much as this guy, I have to say he’s right on in his criticism of their pushing prepackaged, precut vegetables:

It’s none of my business how people spend their money, but I can’t help but think that money spent on peeled veggies could be better spent on a bottle of wine, a dry-aged steak, or a bottle of white truffle oil. Celery and salad greens are supposed to be cheap. I can’t believe how willing we have become to make them and every other piece of produce expensive.

Trader Joe’s isn’t the only sinner, of course–they just make the veggies marginally cheaper than everyone else. I’m a little bit more disturbed out how I could spend $100+ at a TJ’s in Connecticut (I had a job interview up there–back when I wanted a job!–and rented a minivan to capitalize on its proximity to TJ’s) and come away with nothing but frippery: not-very-satisfying granola, weird dips, etc. About the only very useful things I bought there were frozen blueberries. (Maybe TJ’s should just shift over to nothing but frozen foods, like that Spanish chain?) The stores strike me as little more than glorified snack-food purveyors.

And I hate to think what this will mean for cocktail parties in New York. I remember someone in LA complaining about how everybody serves the same brie from TJ’s, with the same crackers and the same cheap wine. It could happen here.

Whether or not I do end up patronizing this new, allegedly life-changing emporium (and really, how could I not visit once?), I have but one prayer: Lord, let me never resort to “baby” carrots. Cooking takes a little work, but there’s something deeply satisfying about peeling a carrot with a good vegetable peeler.

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