In 2011, my local supermarket closed its in-store bank. At first, I didn’t expect this closure to affect me too much, but since it happened I have not been back to shop there. I realized this week that the only reason I shopped at that store was to take care of banking errands. One stop, two errands done. I don’t go out of my way to go to that supermarket anymore.
Ralph’s on Diamond Bar and Grand closed this year too, and being close to another bank branch, I would stop in if I remembered I needed some things for the fridge. I still bank there, but I don’t take the giant leap across the street to Albertson’s. I’d rather drive all the way to Chino. And so, I have learned to do without the ubiquitous American Supermarket.
I first realized I didn’t need the big supermarket when the big labor strike happened years ago. Remember the picket signs and angry grocery clerks? I stayed away. Costco and Trader Joe have got my business, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
Trader Joe’s in particular does an excellent job of keeping up with fashionable food trends. The addition of brown rice pasta and tortillas was a great move. The latest installments have made Trader Joe’s even more of a staple store for me. Great European chocolate, raw nuts, organic, free range chicken and eggs, and let’s admit it, tasty treats that can’t be beat.
I appreciate Trader Joe’s efforts at helping Americans eat more healthfully. While not all the aisles are filled with low-calorie fare, a good deal has a healthy spin. The ready-made salads complete with dressing and fork is a good choice. I also love the Middle East Feast, I hope my Lebanese friends forgive me; I know it’s not THAT authentic, but it hits the spot.
I’m very proud of TJ’s for carrying organic potatoes recently. Potatoes have been hard hit by the healthy eating circles for being heavy on pesticides. Trader Joe’s responded quickly, giving us Russet and red varieties in an organic option. Diamond Bar resident Vicki Todd says, “To me, the organic potatoes have so much flavor. I think they are very worth the trip to buy them. The Farmer’s Market runs out.” And Mrs. Todd ought to know her potatoes; her father in law is a farmer.
Hala Murad of Diamond Bar had this to say about Trader Joe’s: “Absolutely one of my favorite stores. I shop there all the time. I wish they would carry more fresh fish, and organic breads, though.”
That comment left me wondering, Does TJ’s fulfill all my shopping needs? I must say, for the most part, yes. They would be the only store I would go to if they carried bulk items like toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning products. Louise Petry agrees. “ Of all the things I am forced to go to another store for, it's cleaning products and paper goods," she said. "I’ve tried some of Trader Joe’s detergents, but I prefer other brands. I also love saltines. I know it might sound silly, but Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry traditional saltine crackers for my soup. Otherwise, I just love that store.”
I’m sure the fine folks at Trader Joe’s headquarters don’t need any help from Diamond Bar residents as to what to stock their shelves with. They do a pretty good job all by themselves. This week I noticed organic coconut oil on the shelf; coconut water was there first in the drink aisle. Both of these products are very good for you, the benefits of which you can read up on in an article I wrote this summer, “.” I used to have to go to Henry’s to buy coconut oil. Thanks TJ’s!
TJ’s also stocks rice pasta, which is healthier than the standard wheat variety. They actually sell a brown rice penne, higher in fiber with no added egg concentrates. As much as I like this product, it gets boring sometimes. TJ’s read my mind again. The latest in the pasta section this week is “High Fiber Pasta.” What’s the fiber? Oat bran! And yes, it tastes great; you can’t tell the difference. You can choose between spaghetti and penne, and while it’s still a high carbohydrate, at least the fiber content is triple of regular pasta.
I’m a big fan of brown rice bread and Ezekiel bread, and their low ingredient corn tortillas. Have you ever read the ingredients list on big name brand corn tortillas in the supermarket? Well, it’s much more than corn, salt, and lime. Preservatives do not belong in tortillas for my family. I stopped buying the ones at the supermarket long ago. The brown rice varieties are also good; have you tried them? They aren’t very stretchy, so they don’t have the same softness you get at your favorite burrito place, but again, healthy choices make for healthy people.
Of all the effort Trader Joe’s puts forth to give us healthy alternatives to some of our favorite foods, JoJo’s cookies have to be one of the best ones. Oreos were made with real sugar when I was growing up. The new fructose corn syrups and fake ingredients do not appeal to me, so I haven’t had an Oreo since. JoJo’s however, are a decadent treat for my whole family. If I don’t bake from scratch my homemade chocolate chip cookies, JoJo’s get no complaints. Again, great job, Trader Joes!
I must admit, I have a “Wish List” for the product development folks at corporate:
The baking aisle is missing one thing: oat flour. I use oat flour instead of wheat for almost everything. High fiber, no wheat gluten, and very tasty, I wish they carried it. I go to Henry’s for it.
A really good imported, or not, spaghetti sauce. Why imported? Claro’s carries an unbelievable sauce in a glass jar from Italy that really delivers: six ingredients, and a real, fresh taste. Yes, I make my own, but I have late nights, busy weekends, and a quick spaghetti dinner comes in handy. Sorry TJ’s, but all of your sauces contain sugar, or corn syrup, or canola oil. Taste is everything, and olive oil, tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic is all that is needed for a delicious marinara from a jar.
Jam and preserves should be real sugar; no corn syrup, please. The sugar content should be low, so the first ingredient listed should be the fruit. Please refer to my article, “” about the great jams from Mountain Fruit Company. Lower glycemic index means diabetics can eat them, and fruit is their first ingredient. Again, another store to visit, but a trip to T.J. Maxx means I miss the mall altogether!
Last but not least, I wish Trader Joe’s would carry boxed tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are unhealthy according to many food health advocacy groups. The metal taste is one reason, but the lining of the cans interact with the acidic tomatoes, and the product is to be avoided. Claro’s Market carries chopped or pureed tomatoes in paper cartons. They taste great, and are healthy too.