What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

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by Vani Hari

The answer to that question is easy – A LOT.

A family member does this little game with me and it happens over and over. After trying a bite of something that looks homemade, I say, “Mmm where did you get this from?” and she says, “Don’t worry, it’s from Trader Joe’s, so it’s organic.” The fact that people assume all products from Trader Joe’s are organic or healthy or better than what you would find elsewhere is an alarming misconception.

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60 Comments on What Is Trader Joe’s Hiding?

  1. Michelle Nevin Smith

    We have very few options for organic food in our town. Sad to know that Trader Joe's is no longer a great option. They just came to Spokane recently.

  2. Chris Wells

    being a farm boy who knows great natural food flavor & vitality – It has always felt to me like Trader Joe food is abundant with over-processing and depleated vitality food – there's nothing close to growing your own for quality , digestability , nutrient quality, purity, unless its grown biodynamically.

  3. Gwyneth Rudes Cook

    I only buy TJ products in TJ stores. My dearest friend works for a company that makes makes TJ products , She says that the plant has to be cleared out cleaned and nothing from other products may come in contact with TJS products. She informed me that all ingredients are GMO free and all natural with no pesticides etc. I do 90 % of my shopping for my family there the price is right and so is my families health.

  4. John Guth

    Owned by a German Family that stay out of the business policies. Fortune Magizine did a nice article about the company several years ago.

  5. Cyn Cone Slingsby

    There isn't a chain store that doesn't have GMOs in their store. I think it's great that their brand is GMO free. A third party verification would be great, but show me another chain that sells it's won brand and is GMO free. I think TJs is one of the good guys. Do they have room to improve? yes. I'll still shop there happily!

  6. Freedom Elf

    I agree. Just because they are desperately trying to keep prices down by not participating in the Non-GMO project (do you have ANY idea how expensive nonGMO and Organic certifications are???) doesn't mean that they are evil and must be shunned, and I think it's rather irresponsible to villify them like this. They are the best place to find food, and my goodness, even Whole Foods, the expensive one, says that they will merely "try" to eliminate GMOs by 2016. So what's the point of attacking Trader Joes, when they are doing a better job at a cheaper price?

  7. Kenneth Anthony Earl

    From what I read in this article, Stoneyfield might be getting some of its components from a company that uses GMO feed for it's livestock.

  8. Shawna Macurio

    I don't trust the validity of the article. TJs DOES NOT sell products with artificial flavorings and colorings. I think this article is BS put out by the competition.

  9. Oh No! Not "2 Buck Chuck" too!!! What will I do now? I guess it's back to drinking water! Water with fluorides! Maybe a beer. Yah, that's it. No I have a real excuse for having a beer! Thanks.

  10. Laurie McDonagh

    I think that was shown to let people know about the items that are actually made by other companies, not so much to tell you not to buy it. I already buy Stoneyfield when I'm at other grocery stores, so I'm actually MORE likely to buy the TJs brand now since I know it's the same thing only cheaper.

  11. All you have to do with the package of popcorn to oatmeal need to read the label. If you cannot pernounce it or read it don't buy it. Just think I had a friend come with me to the store and understand the label. But Trader Joes is pretty good with there labeling but the corn soy and surgar are the things to watch. It needs to be cane surgar.

  12. Kathleen Cook I think you didn't reead everything : "Many other retailers–independent grocers, co-ops, and Whole Foods Market–are leading the way by requiring rigorous testing and labeling, and it would be great to see Trader Joe’s follow suit." This is WHY.

  13. Not all food is "Organic" at Trader Joes. I'm sure they have plenty of "conventionally" grown foods and produce. Meaning they were sprayed with pesticides…However, that does not make them GMO. Since you can not Prove that they are selling Gmo's intentionally, I will continue to shop at TJ's.

  14. NickandAshley Knotts

    I honestly dont believe there are any non gmo foods available. Even if you planted a gmo free seed in organic soil its still polluted with the air. Maybe some have less than others but doubt any us truly free of contaminants

  15. Jeffries Ranch

    Unfortunately, I think that GMO's are already everywhere. You can't be sure what is in processed foods, so it is already becoming difficult to avoid!

  16. contaminated and pesticides are not the same as gmo. As I said, there are conventionally grown food that has pesticides, which is not "organic". Organic food is 100% free of any type of pesticides, which is hard to come by..Yes. BUT. I will eat conventionally grown food. However…I want to know if my food is Genetically Modified (GMO) and have a right to know. I dont have a problem with pesticides. I do have a problem with GMO.

  17. Cyn Cone Slingsby – Actually Vitamin Cottage is an awesome grocery-store chain based in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Washington state. They do not carry GMO products and all of their produce is certified organic. An wonderful example of a food
    stores potential.

  18. Marcie Martini

    This is what trader Joe's answer to me was after I sent them your link…

    Thank you for your email. Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe's, Jose's, Ming's, etc. on the label).

    When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product in question perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources.

    This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

    In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we perform random audits of items with suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing.

    Given our position on GMO ingredients in Trader Joe's label products and the work done in support of that position, it is our expectation that our products test as non-GMO.

    We have yet to take the approach of labeling products as non-GMO because there are no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling.

    Instead of waiting for such guidelines to be put into effect and based upon customer feedback, we took a more holistic approach and made the no GMO ingredients position part of what the Trader Joe's label encompasses.

    We're unable to make the same claims for branded products. Organic products, regardless of brand, are by definition non-GMO.

    We appreciate your understanding,
    Customer Relations

  19. Real! Farm raised free range Chicken eggs are the best for quality, flavor and nutrients! I gave some to my wife once… She never knew they could taste that good! BTW, real free range eggs have dark orange yolks. Because the birds eat what nature intended: Bugs, flowers, small rodents etc.

  20. Mary Melody

    Using the Buycott app, many items of produce at TJs do not pass. If you have a smart phone, I recommend the app. It has been so helpful, disclosing which organic brands are owned by companies I do not support. Buycott WILL pass anything TJs brand, so it is not perfect. Thank you for the heads up!

  21. Eric Emery

    The reason that trader joes does not comply with official non gmo companies is because they are not going to use their name to help promote an organization. This article is basically someone trying to bully trader joes into join some non gmo organization.

  22. Any processed food is at risk for GMOs. And yes TJ's does carry some GMO laden brands. The employees are always happy (at least in my experience) and that energy transfers into the food as well, so I still believe that the TJ labeled foods is a better option than most, if not all, in a conventional grocery store.

  23. Colleen Martin

    This article is very misleading and full of assumptions as well as presumptions. Yes, EVERYONE should read labels and Trader Joe's does sell bad stuff (my God just read the label for their Speculous cookie spread) but its one of the few places that you can get organic chicken, rBST free milk, and other "safer" type foods. Yes they sell other BRANDS that may/do use GMO but they are trying to provide a better product to comsumers. Going for GMO free certification is insanely expensive so I will not fault trader joes for not wanting to pay for it. A whole article on Maybe TJ's is bad with no proof to back it up is 1)poor journalism 2)lazy journalism 3)pointless. I am adamantly against GMO's but this is going to far with this article.

  24. Don't be so quick to give up. Trader Joes has their suppliers certify that they are GMO free. This is way way way more than other grocers. Especially when you see the prices are kept so low. Not only that, they are a responsible employer giving every employee health insurance – even part time. Safeway is the second largest contributor to defeat 522 on our state's ballot. If you can shop exclusively at a local organic farmer's market great. If not, TJ's is the best and safest grocer.

  25. Amy Bellamy – Don't be so quick to give up. Trader Joes has their suppliers certify that they are GMO free. This is way way way more than other grocers. Especially when you see the prices are kept so low. Not only that, they are a responsible employer giving every employee health insurance – even part time. If you can shop exclusively at a local organic farmer's market great. If not, TJ's is the best and safest grocer.

  26. Brenda Williams

    Ed Whorton Did you also know that Farm Fresh eggs are better and don't need to be refrigerated? "Factory" eggs are washed in hot water which destroys the outer protective "Coating" which then can cause the eggs to spoil faster! Farm fresh eggs are not done this way, so, they stay fresh longer and no need to put in refrigerator! The protected coating protects the eggs from bacteria and other things, but, the "Factories" destroy that coating! That is why they recommend refrigerating the eggs you buy from the grocery stores!

  27. It seems misguided to getting up Trader Joe's shit. Didn't our government just give everybody a pass? Contact your representatives. Comprehensive Truth in Labeling legislation seems like the way to go to me?

  28. Stacey Chris Gowdey

    Margaret Lyons Montoya but without the transparency of showing their supporting documents, how can you believe their claims? You see that Heineken and Honest Tea complied with the requests to see documentation, yet TJ said no?? Does seem fishy to me…

  29. Sheila Gaston

    I shop at Vitamin Cottage and I don't believe all of their products are GMO free. You still have to read the labels. If it doesn't say certified organic or GMO free, it may not be.

  30. Easy to say "grow your own," but that is not possible where I live (climate, ferocious animal/insect life, making a living!!!!) I've tried. Other than a farm delivery, I rely on stores like TJs and believe they are more honest that really high-priced Whole Foods who have been documented as less than honest. Safeway contributing to the anti-label people makes them a bad choice for me, even for their organic line. In practical terms, I suspect that if Trader's claimed complete non-GMOs and someone decided to test, despite their efforts, the food could have traces. GMO volunteer plants and its pervasiveness make it hard to guarantee its doesn't sneak in somewhere for a business that large and that dedicated to affordability. I can't afford to be that hard line anyway. We do what we can given our situations.

  31. Kathy Parker

    Loic Conte I see this article as a plug for Whole Foods, which sold out to Monsanto several weeks ago. They just gave up. So three cheers for Trader Joe's I have a whole Foods store locally, but I travel four hours once a month to shop at TJ's. Yes, I drive a Prius. Also report facts… don't trash a store until you have positive proof of your assertions

  32. Valerie Tilghman

    I do not know that I trust the documentation either. Anyone can put anything on paper and make it " look " official. The only way to know is buy something and have it tested on your own dime ( so no other influence comes into play ) and then show the results from the lab. Grocery stores ( organic or not ) are a business and out to make money. They only know what they are told. The only true way to know what you are ingesting is to grow your own food.

  33. I go there too! Love their cereals! But I buy my meats from a local butcher.
    I want to check out Whole foods also.I will travel the 45 minutes with my cooler to get better food. I hate processed foods and cook everything myself.

  34. Today there is not such thing as GMO free corn. The wind blows; cross pollination occurs. Genetically modified corn has contaminated every strain of regular corn. This means that anything with corn or corn syrup or HFCS or any other derivative of corn cannot be guaranteed GMO free. Next time you want to get excited about our food source read Wheat Belly. Wheat, the staple of the globe, has no genetic resemblance to wheat from the mid-20th century on back. It's barely digestible and now has a higher glycemic index than sugar! Now that is something to get excited about.

  35. Susan Deegan

    I too have enjoyed shopping at Trader Joes for many years however in the last 4 years I have found their products to be very unsafe and actually dangerous! Never mind all of the recalls, but I personally have bitten into Chicken Boness in no less then 5 products and recently broke a tooth on a walnut shelk in the spinich, walnut, cranberry and Blue cheese salad! 3 years ago I literally almost choked to death on a bone in the "Just Chicken"! The worst part. About. Trader Joes could not care less! We're done with Trader Joes! They just don't care about the health or safety of their customers! Trader Joes cares only about $$$$$

  36. Sheila Burnham

    I heard Con Agra makes their private label food. Con Agra spent millions of dollars to help defeat prop 37 (GMO labeling law) in California

  37. Noah Bearden

    Kathleen Cook From what I read it's not to terribly expensive….so if you ask me what TJ's is saying is a bunch of bull. Just my opinion.

  38. If we are all looking for organic, non GMO foods and TJ's has them, why do they only SAY it and not PRINT it? So they can't be held accountable? Maybe not, but the question does arise in my mind.

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