So why won’t Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods label their products with their country of origin?

Alas, poor Yorkie! I knew him, Horatio

Patrons of those stores presumably care more about what they ingest than us mere mortals because they pay so much more for their staples, like quinoa and malted milk balls. For “competitive reasons”, these chain stores refuse to disclose where their stuff comes from, leaving their customers in the dark (where admittedly they live anyway, so as to avoid the dangers of sunlight) and unable to determine where that bit of parsley, still foaming with pesticide and rinsed in sewage water, might have been grown.

Yet Mexico ships us deadly mangos while China continues to flood our shores with tainted milk, poisoned shrimp and, you ask, what in God’s name else? Doggy treats – tired of Fido? Feed’m Chinese turkey jerky.

You can learn all about the presence of trans fats or nut oil in your box of Orgasmic Oats, but not where the gluten-free wheat was grown and contaminated. That doesn’t bother me, but I wonder at the SUV Mommies’ naivety and blind faith in the goodness of mystery food from Trader Joe and his friends.

UPDATE: To respond to comments: “Trader Joe’s does not provide ‘country of origin” disclosures on most of its private label brands, citing reasons of food source and supplier secrecy”. (Besides, all you devoted shoppers, the stuff about Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s was mostly intended as filler to give me a chance to post a bad pun – ya wanna eat at Joe’s, s’okay with me).

17 Comments

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17 responses to “So why won’t Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods label their products with their country of origin?

  1. Mike

    I understand that Trader Joe is negotiating a 20,000 SF lease for the vacant space above CVS in Western Greenwich.

  2. Linda in Poughkeepsie

    At the Seafood Counter at the Shop-Rite here in Poughkeepsie the flounder is marked “processed in China”. Makes me wonder about fish caught in the Atlantic, shipped to china, and then shipped back here. I didn’t buy any, but it least it was marked where it came from.

  3. Walt

    Dude –
    Did you know the State Department has deemed “holding down the fort” is racist? As is “going Dutch”. And “black and tan”. Are they frigging kidding me?

    http://dailycaller.com/2012/08/30/new-frontiers-in-hypersensitvity-state-department-officer-says-holding-down-the-fort-is-racist/

    “Handicapped” and “rule of thumb” are also deemed offensive. Who are making up these rules? Pretty soon we won’t be able to communicate. What is wrong with handicapped? What would they prefer as an adjective, “pretty screwed up”?

    Is Homosexual OK? I think so, but why? If so, is Homo OK? If not, why not? It’s just an abbreviation. Is Lesbian OK but Lezbo not? WHY??? I think I would prefer to be called a “Homo” vs. ”Gay” if I was one of “those people” What do you think, you Homo?

    Fat? Skinny? Are these on the list? Is Cop or Copper ok? Or is only Police Officer accepted? What about “virgin”? I would prefer “never been boinked”, or “NBB” for short.

    This is just absolute lunacy, and results in more bureaucracy and red tape than people realize. And this is what high level bureaucrats spend their time on, as the Nation is crumbling around us? And the term bureaucrats was MEANT to be a negative term. As it should be. I prefer “dick heads” so can we all just agree to go with that instead?

    Anyhows, we doing a BBQ this weekend at one of your listings? I figured I missed the invite, which is why I didn’t RSVP. Let me know the details

    Your Pal,
    Walt

  4. Cos Cobber

    I’m not a regulation guy per se, but some basic laws are needed country of origin is one of those food labeling laws that need. Particularly its needed for all meats & fish whether fresh or processed and the same with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

    I dont think the GMO laws are necessary, if someone wants non GMO I am sure the non GMO companies will label themselves accordingly.

  5. dogwalker

    I don’t go to either place much, but I do remember buying frozen spinach at WF and noticing that it was from China. Actually, that got me to resolve to get over to Fairway (not that they are necessarily so much better), but . . .

    Cos Cobber, I do like things labeled. Not that I am so hot on GMO, it’s just one of those slippery slope issues, IMHO. I would be perfectly happy with your suggestion, except that at least one problem has cropped up, of which I am aware . . . regarding bovine growth hormone. Monsanto (the manufacturer of rBGH) has allegedly threatened lawsuits against a number of small businesses that label their products “rBGH free”, claiming it maligns their product, which has been “proved” safe. At least one, against a dairy in Maine, proceeded through the courts. Even the preliminaries in litigation can put a small operation out of business (which is probably Monsanto’s aim). So, one way or another, legislation is needed to prevent this type of thing, in my view.

  6. xyzzy

    Last time I shopped at Whole Foods, (which was yesterday!) they label where their apples and other fruit came from. Right on the sign. I bought a nice bunch of apples from Pennsylvania.

  7. Whole Apple?

    Can the labels ‘green’ and ‘financial success’ ever apply to the same company?

  8. Anonymous

    They’re legally required to label anything imported. And they do. Maybe you should try reading the labels…

  9. Anonymous

    FYI Trader Joe’s is often cheaper than Stop & Shop.

  10. Ryan

    Just an FYI for you. Trader joes does not sell any food products from china. Also country of origin lableing is a requirement and you can find that information on the products. The only exception to this is if the product is domestic. That being said, if the product is from outside the USA it will be labels with the country, if it doesn’t say where it is from then you can count on it being from the USA.

  11. OG Reader

    Good to know Ryan – our intrepid guide had me wondering what the back story was.
    FWIW, I have no problem with Whole Foods fresh offerings.

  12. Anonymous

    Yeah, I have to chime in on TJ’s, they are often cheaper than mainstream markets especially for cheeses, fresh breads, and deli meats. You really can’t use them to replace a grocer but they’re great for supplementing with things you can’t find or don’t want to pay full price on. If you want to be lazy their prepped salads and entrees are more creative and cheaper than you’d find at the grocery.

    I don’t shop there often but it seems to me that not only are the products labeled but that TJ’s makes a point of labeling their signs, including their price labels on the shelves.

    I don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot into a Whole Foods, a trip to the local healthy food co-op was enough for me. Yikes.

  13. Anonymous

    I read the article used as reference for that Wiki quote three times and I can’t find any substantiation for that claim.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tj12feb12,1,1079460.story

  14. Anonymous

    @Chris, I give up. I just ransacked my kitchen looking for house branded groceries and all I could find was a box of dried milk I use for baking. Shockingly, the box didn’t tell me where it was sourced from!!! :lol:

    I think most sellers of house labelled products are pretty tight lipped about their suppliers (and vice versa), the only one I can think of that’s been easy to find out about is Costco’s Kirkland branded items.

    And finally: GROAN. I completely missed your pun the first time around.

  15. The new grocery store in Westchester is H-Mart – a giant Asian store on Central Avenue in Hartsdale, which took the space vacated by a Pathmark. It drove Morton Williams out of business very quickly. The in-store prepared food-place has 3 separate counters: Korean, Chinese and Japanese. They have a whole department just for various kinds of noodles. Lots of free samples, but I don’t trust that people aren’t spreading their germs from one offering to the next by not switching the toothpicks you are supposed to discard when you go for the next sample.
    Their prices on fruit and veggies are great, and so are the seafood prices, but I don’t trust the seafood origins for the way that fish may be farmed and don’t trust that they follow the laws about over-fishing certain species.
    It’s worth a visit to see what’s going on…it is a very unique, and huge store.

  16. Anonymous

    Your ‘filler’ article is interesting. As a fan of the Greenwich branch of Whole Foods, I must admit I miss the shopping experience. As a ‘temporary’ resident of Hong Kong, China, our equivalent of Whole Foods is ‘360’.
    Unfortunately the price difference of this shop and a ‘normal’ supermarket, keeps ‘the likes of me’ well away. However, as an expat in China, I can assure you that we eat anything but Chinese; Australian Cheese and Milk, Japanese Tofu (before the radiation) and Malaysian Eggs and also USA Eggs.
    Here in China, we’re very ‘Green’ and eco-friendly and like to help your balance of payments favorable. Shame Whole Foods don’t think the same way.