The below post was originally published on EatLocalGrown.com, where it created quite a stir.
Most people “got it” for what it is — a humorous reminder to read food labels, even when shopping at a health food store.
It got a substantial number of Facebook “likes” and “shares”, but it had some people hopping mad.
I was chastised for picking on Trader Joe’s and told I should be bashing Walmart instead.
One guy told me to “quit whining and make your own ____ing mashed potatoes”! Insert your favorite 4 letter swear word here. (I wonder how many “Dear John” letters this charmer has received?)
Let me know what you think. Am I being too tough on Trader Joe’s?
Dear Trader Joe,
When I met you many years ago it was love at first sight. I loved your fun attitude and your philosophy. I loved your cozy, small neighborhood market feel.
You became a regular weekly date and I always looked forward to seeing you. What new foods would I find? What yummy food samples were being served? Would there be a wine tasting or free coffee?
I was so enamored of you I told all my friends how great you were, I even wrote about you on my blog for the whole world to see.
For years you made me feel that I could afford to buy the healthiest food without breaking my budget and for that I will always be grateful. So this is really hard for me to say, but I’m going to have to break up with you.
I’m really sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed. I’m not the same sugar-loving, carb-consuming, canola-oil guzzling gal I was when we first met.
I was so blinded by your Hawaiian shirts, your super-friendly crew mates, and your whimsical captain’s bell that I was too busy having fun when I shopped. But eventually I started to notice things that I didn’t like.
I didn’t like the way you started sneaking sugar into everything. Maybe it was always there and I just didn’t want to see it. When you’re in love you tend to overlook these things. Do you really need to put it in your Chili Pepper Sauce and your Garlic & Butter Mashed Potato mix? But the last straw for me was when I found it in your beef broth! Why, Joe, why, do you need to put sugar in this most savory of items?
I now feel like I can’t trust you. I have to read every single label and frankly, this is no way to shop. A good relationship is based on trust, and you have destroyed my faith in you.
But there is even a bigger problem than hidden sugar. It’s your love affair with polyunsaturated vegetable oils that really takes the cake. This stuff is bad news yet you put it in everything.
I don’t understand how you can take such pride in putting out award winning olive oil on one hand yet sell canola oil on the other. It makes you seem like a hypocrite.
I know it’s not all your fault. You have to give your customers what they want because without your loyal fans there would be no “Trader” you’d just be “plain old Joe”.
Maybe you’re worried your customers aren’t ready to give up the flavor boost from sugar or willing to pay more for food once you transition from using cheap vegetable oils. But Joe, you could pave the way! After all you’ve made some pretty bold moves like refusing to carry products that contain MSG and everyone has stuck by you! You could do the same here!
Oh, we had some good times, Joe. I’ll never forget your pumpkin ice cream, your honey-glazed cranberry pecans, or your Greek apricot-mango yogurt. I’m really going to miss your BBQ Sauce, Teriyaki sauce, and your lime-curry marinade. They made others believe I was a good cook. But the truth is I owe it all to you.
I hope we can always be friends but I just don’t want to be exclusive any more. I need to find someone whose philosophy is more akin to mine.
If you decide to mend your ways — get rid of hidden sugar and canola oil — give me a call and maybe we can patch this up.
Until then I’ll be seeing you around.
For the record, I still make Trader Joe’s one of my regular shopping stops, but I read the labels very carefully.
P.S. I wish to thank Rick at EatLocalGrown.com for taking the flack he received about this post in his stride and for creating the cool graphic you see at the top of this post.