Blasphemy time, folks – I hate Trader Joe’s.
Hopefully your screeches of horror and disbelief were not so high-pitched that they shattered your computer screens and any nearby chandeliers.
I was only tangentially aware of Trader Joe’s in the days before college – although I did have an enduring fondness for their Triple Ginger Snaps, consumed mainly at my grandparents’ apartment in Philadelphia. Big ups, Granny Franny.
Then sophomore year of college rolled around, and my dorm was right next door to (on top of, actually) the Trader Joe’s by Union Square. “Superb!” I thought. “I can run in for Chile-Spiced Dried Mango or Veggie Masala Burgers whenever I want!”
Me and nine million other people.
Seriously. It can be 8 in the morning or 10 at night and there will ALWAYS be a line out the door for the register! This means you either load up and then wait an hour with spoiling milk and melting ice cream in your basket (you thought there might be room to push a cart in here? How quaint!), or do what I call the Line Shuffle. This involves getting into the register line when you enter and then darting around the store grabbing your frozen gyoza and peanut-butter-filled pretzel bites while hoping that the person behind you will push your basket forward if the line should happen to advance while you’re perusing the cheese section.
(And God forbid you got into the Express line with thirteen items – you’d be better off showing up to Friday night services in a Nazi costume.)
But guess what they have in California? MORE SPACE. Thus, their Trader Joe’s must be awesome football-field-sized Edens of low-priced and delicious snacks – snacks that will hopefully not get your entire gender blamed for humankind’s fall from grace.
As you can see, there is in fact no giant line snaking from the front door all the way up to Palo Alto. I proceeded with cautious optimism.
And then I ran into this:
Are you kidding me???? 59 cents per plum????? That picture was taken when plums were in season and were about $1.50 per pound at my friendly neighborhood Ralph’s.
(Yes, I know they’re organic.)
But that’s not the point! I did not buy those plums. And I never will.
What I did buy was cheese.
Also, my favorite soup ever:
But just when I was thinking that Trader Joe’s wasn’t so bad after all, I realized something. Take a look at the picture below and tell me if you notice a pattern. A pattern that will fill you with Al-Gore-ian rage:
Is it just me, or is every single piece of produce wrapped in some kind of packaging??? Some of it I can understand, I guess. We don’t want our strawberries rolling around willy-nilly, like so many easily-bruised marbles. But why are the avocados in that mesh thing? Why is the basil in its own plastic container? WHY DO TWO GARLIC BULBS NEED TO BE IN A BAG? Are we worried they are going to get contaminated from being exposed to the open air? You have to peel them before you can use them, Trader Joe’s. Haven’t you ever watched Emeril? SUSTAINABILITY, BAM!
I can only assume that they’re jacking up prices on plums in order to afford their fancy garlic bags. And why not! They sell chocolate-covered edamame, they can do whatever they want.
But honestly this is not the reason why Trader Joe’s is so sucky. Would you like to know why? Here is the amount of groceries that I purchased during my trip. Note that these bags are each about half-full.