Good Rant! And some Trader Joe’s vs. Fairway stuff

Speaking of “Trader Joe’s Rants” I happened to come across a very good rant on a blog by Leland in BK. I hope he won’t mind me linking to it and sending a few visitors over. He wrote it in 2006 but I think its just as valid now; See what you think. I think Leland made some interesting points about TJ’s produce.

PRODUCE: Ah ha. One thing I  always thought was that, compared to other aspects of the food it sells, Trader Joe’s fruits and vegs are not at the same level, generally speaking. For example compare the produce at TJ’s to lets say in my area, Fairway. Ask anyone in NYC and they will tell you Fairway’s produce is great. If you take a look at some of these videos on their site can you get some idea of what we are talking about. This stuff is FRESH, top-notch produce (cheap, no). Is Trader Joe’s produce up to this level? I can only judge the ones I have seen in Manhattan, which for all I know may not be indicative of all Trader Joe’s. Again, generally, I don’t think of their produce at the level of a Fairway. Perhaps Califorian TJ’s being closer to the produce may have better and more variety of produce? There is some produce I buy regularly at TJ’s. For one, their bags of organic carrots? They are the same price as Fairway’s non-organic carrots, 89 cents. That’s amazing. But I saw some corn today at TJ’s that I could not believe someone kept on the shelf. There were three ears of corn so old the husk was dried out like paper. It was garbage. I wish I had a camera to document that! Someone should commit hara-kiri in their produce section for that offense.

Fairway vs. TJ: Fairway, which has been here forever, is located 3 blocks away from the Trader Joe’s on 72nd St. and Broadway which opened up late 2010. So in the Upper West Side food vendor scene it was quite a big thing to have a potential competitor like Trader Joe’s open up a few blocks away! I’m not kidding, this made a for a ton of news in the blogoshpere:

I still shop at Fairway for many things. However I now also go to Trader Joe’s for many other things. If you are looking for very good olive oil at an AMAZING price, I give TJ’s the nod hands down. If you are looking for a “super Tuscan” olive oil of the kind that sells for $30 a half/litre Fairway has it. Me, I can’t afford that stuff and I love to use olive oil, liberally so personally for everyday use, I have become a HUGE FAN of TJ’s Olive Oil. I am bowled over by their olive oils value and what you get for your money compared to others. I especially like their Spanish Olive Oil. It sells for $5.99 a litre, and I say at that price, no one can come close: superb value for your buck. Is it the same as the $30 stuff Fairway might have? Perhaps not – however its not junk, it is a very decent olive oil. I have seen much crap oil, typically “pomace”, for the same price TJ’s sells Extra Virgin Olive Oils for. Oh, and TJ does sell “really good” olive oil (“Sicialian”, “Kalamata”…) I just haven’t tried these oils yet, but I have a feeling they must be good to warrant them making them “premium” prices vs. the “normal” stuff they sell.

I am going to guess that Trader Joe’s must have great sources of producers of olive oil and major financial clout; They must be able to make huge deals to purchase massive quantities of oil to be able to sell stuff this good for $6. As they say “we pay cash” and buy alot. Olive Oil I think is a key Trader Joe’s item. I think its the ONE item than almost instantly makes people into a “Trader Joe’s customer”. If you buy a bottle of TJ’s Olive Oil, you will have you will be returning. Its usually the first thing anyone going to Trader Joe’s notices and will tell you about. “Wow. They sell extra virgin for $6 bucks!” I’m pretty sure I’ll do a future post just about Olive Oil. Its a good topic.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barry Crump
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 16:59:46

    Maybe TJ’s Olive Oil is not so good. They are saying in this report that it is glorified canola oil, which isn’t good. I’ve been buying TJ’s olive oil for years, but now I will need to dig deeper before I buy it again.,10354365,1



    • promacnyc
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 00:16:06

      Hi Barry, well I read the UC Davis report in the link that you submitted. The UCD report mention’s five top selling brands, such as Colavita, Bertolli and Berio. It does not mention Trader Joe’s. However I’ve recently listened to an eye-opening (ear-opening?) report on NPR by an author of a book called “Losing Virginity” about the Olive Oil industry and it really gives one quite a few things to think about. My understanding is Trader Joe’s makes huge purchases of olive oil, globally. I have read Trader Joe’s is quite demanding of their purveyors; I would also imagine TJ’s tests the olive oil as described in the NPR story. Ultimately though it is extremely difficult for the consumer, without perhaps some regulatory body insuring that EVOO that is sold as such is exactly as advertised. I recently saw a new oil at Trader Joe’s called “Sicilian Estate” describing three varieties of olives sourced in Sicily. I have not tried it but think I will.



      • Barry Crump
        Jan 17, 2012 @ 16:54:22

        I think you mean “Extra Virginity” by Tom Mueller. I’m about halfway through it and it is a must read, but disheartening. I don’t think I can trust a low cost olive oil anymore. I heard the same NPR show. Needless to say, I’ve decide to start coughing up for the good stuff. I’m now using Frog Hollow olive oil, a California Certified Organic oil. It is very tasty. I have a feeling California Olive Oils will go the way of our wines, becoming some of the best in the world!


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