| > I'm a devoted Trader Joe shopper, but I did get tired of their produce,
| > I try not to buy any produce there. It's usually
| > funky in some way. One can't go for quality and cheap
| > prices both. I also don't like the way these sell their
| > own brands. There's no way to know the source and
| > the source doesn't have to worry about their reputation.
| How do you know there's no way to know the source. Have you ever asked?
Who would one ask? A clerk may answer, but that doesn't
mean they know. I've never tried writing to TJ. Maybe they'd
answer. I don't know. But that would seem to be in conflict with the
whole idea of store brands, which is that the source company
doesn't have to answer to the customer and can therefore charge
the store less. A Sears sewing machine might be made by Singer
or it might be made by Ace & Acme, but for all practical purposes
it's a Sears machine.
Most Trader Joes processed products say only "distributed by
Trader Joes". I suspect that Big Nut doesn't want their name
connected because then people would send complaints to them.
I would guess that's probably part of the contract.
Even if the source is known, it would make sense that their
product is higher quality than the store brand. If a company
also sells retail then their reputation depends on their product, but
not on the stock they sell through a store brand. There can also
be other minor issues, not immediately apparent. For instance,
Whole Foods brand organic diced tomatoes are cheaper than the
name brand on the next shelf. They both say organic. But the
name brand (Muir Glen) also says there's no BPA in the can liner.
The WF brand does not. WF is a giant corporation that bought
out smaller stores to build a massive chain. they're a middleman,
not a food producer. So they don't care about issues like BPA in
can liners unless the customer cares -- even when the content is
So there's two cans of tomatoes. They might even both be
Muir Glen tomatoes. But one has BPA in the can liner. And it's
pretty safe to assume that if Muir Glen is selling tomatoes to
WF they're not sending them the best ones. That's why the
store brand is cheaper, after all.
| A while back I was looking at the chicken at BJ's. They sell Perdue
| chicken and BJ's labeled chicken. I located the butcher and asked him what
| the difference was. "Just the packaging, and of course, the price."
| They get all of their chicken from Perdue, some of it pre-packaged by
| Perdue, and some of it bulk, which they then package themselves and sell
| for a lower price.
That makes sense. Perdue practically owns the market at this
point. But the clerk's word is not a promise, and BJs could easily
start getting chicken from China next month. They've made no
commitment to you about where they source their chicken. If they
start getting it from a farm in China built on a mercury waste dump
you'll probably never know. Nor is the clerk likely to learn about it.
For that matter, they can say it's organic if China certifies that.
But we have no agreement with China in terms of organic regulations.
And who, in their right mind, would trust Chinese gov't officials to
confirm organic food products being shipped to the US? They don't
even care about their own people.
Personally I would never buy Perdue at any price. One reason
is their exploitation. There was a PBS documentary about how
they treat their suppliers. Another reason is the chicken itself.
It's not right. It's got globs of yellow fat under the skin and the
fat is sticky, tearing apart paper napkins. There are also veins
that seem to be in weird places. If you try normal chicken, like
Bell and Evans, I think you'll find it tastes much better and
the fat it greasy, just like it always was growing up. :) There
are also no fat globs under the skin in normal chicken.
I wouldn't eat industrial beef, either, because that's likely to
be far worse than chicken. (A single hamburger can come from
dozens of countries, unloaded from ships as meat chunks in bins,
then shipped to the Midwest suppliers for grinding. Yum.) But in
the case of beef I can't honestly say that I think organic tastes
better. I'd only buy it to avoid a big dose of female hormones,
mad cow prions, and who knows what else might be in it. In the
case of chicken I can see and taste the difference clearly.
If you're on a tight budget you might have to go for industrial
food, but I would keep in mind that their market is people who
care most, by far, about price. Or to put it another way, if you
don't want to know how sausage is made, then you won't. :)