I have been a regular customer of Trader Joe’s markets since 1978. As of today, I will no longer shop there.
Trader Joe’s presents itself as a company that respects its customers, and a big part of its marketing strategy is to tell the story behind the food. Its monthly “Fearless Flyer” is filled with stories of how buyers wander the planet looking for great food at great prices, and includes details on the processes that make Trader Joe’s offerings different. It seems to have worked—what started as a little store in Pasadena has become a nationwide chain of highly profitable specialty stores.
Today, people like me who shop at Trader Joe’s are engaged in a struggle to know what is in the food that we eat. This would seem to be a no-brainer for a company like TJ’s. And yet it has neither endorsed nor supported Proposition 37, which would mandate the inclusion of genetically modified ingredients as part of the labeling on food and food products. Why doesn’t Trader Joe’s want us to know this? Why doesn’t the company help? Oliver’s Market does, as does Community Market, Strauss Dairy and many other food companies.
Trader Joe’s is owned by a German family trust. People in Germany get this information. Everyone in Europe does. So do people in China. In fact, GMO labeling is mandatory in more than 40 countries. These people are free to know what is in the food they eat, but in the United States, we are not.
I do not expect Safeway or Kroger to support labeling. I am not shocked that Whole Foods does not stand with its customers. But Trader Joe’s—it wooed me and treated me with respect. It hurts to find out it is just like the rest: on our side until it really counts.
Say it isn’t so, Joe. Show us you haven’t sold us out. Until you do, I must say bye-bye to buying at your shop.
Abraham Entin lives in Santa Rosa.Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write email@example.com.