Trader Joe’s VS Whole Foods by Chad Stoepel

24 09 2008

TRADER JOES VS WHOLE FOODS       by        Chad Stoepel


I have shopped at both stores for a considerable amount of time and have been in a Whole Foods relationship lately, but just recently decided to take a trip back to good old Trader Joe’s and was both surprised and pissed, let me tell you some good and bad stories from both stores and maybe you can decide and relay me your findings (I like to believe people really are reading this rant and rave).


Well today at Trader Joe’s I was first pissed about the new parking lot area and that ridiculous baby shop next door, we drove around in a dizzying circle that left me wanting to throw up, but managed to squeeze the car in a tiny spot surrounded by concrete girders. The inside of the store still greets you with a small yet solid fresh meat area, with the usual candidates like ground meats, pork, sausages, ribs etc. Followed by the very limited produce section, I was in the market for a brand new jalapeno pepper but could not find one for the life of me, I was even willing to downgrade to a bell pepper but had to buy three when I only needed one. I was disappointed but soon cheered up when I saw there selection of heirloom tomatoes and actually all the tomatoes looked great for the first day of fall. I proceeded through the dairy and soy section past there extensive dried fruits and nuts, which is almost a bit overwhelming, over to Joe’s prepared items. They all looked delicious but that takes all the fun out of cooking. I some days do not feel like cooking and can relate to those always on the go but this is my blog and I can cry if I want to.


The cheese section my favorite area in all grocery stores, and Joe’s just does not do it for me so blah, but one cheese did tickle my fancy and it was actually a goats milk brie and I have never seen such a cheese so maybe next time I will give it a shot.


The frozen tundra area of Joe’s just baffles me especially the frozen meats and fish I just do not like anything about frozen proteins unless they are on a frozen pizza. I flirted around all the prepared Trader Joe’s sauces and marinades and have to admit that I do like most of them but would rather make my own unless I am trying to make a Punjab sauce, I leave most Indian sauces to Joe.

Last but not least I played around the wine section of Joe’s which actually takes up a good portion of the store, I love that the average price of there wine is about five dollars but I have to say I have never heard of the majority of their wines, and I am not claiming to be a wine professional so I will just stop now before I offend someone. I guess I am saying that I can not comment on the wine section because I just don’t know.


All and all the size of Trader Joe’s greatly reduces the amount of product they can get in, and for what they have you can definitely get by, but if you are planning to embark on a challenging dish I doubt you will find all the necessary ingredients at Joe’s, but if you are stretched for time and need a delicious quick meal Joe’s is your place.

Now the first time I visited Whole Foods I bought a few items and left a hundred dollars poorer and really could not figure out what the hell just happened. So I never went back, until I started attending culinary school and realized your food will taste like crap if you use crap ingredients. I started getting into local organic produce and actually was starting to eat my vegetables. I was getting cheeses that I had never heard of, new spices that you can buy in bulk, hundreds of new beers to tickle my tongue, and that damn truffle pate’ that always gets me in trouble (one day I will get gout). I was spending money like there was no tomorrow. Then my school bills started coming in and the breaks were put on hard, but with a carefully planned shopping list I found that I could still get by with shopping at Whole Foods, just no more truffle pate’ or expensive  cheese. There is really no comparison in my opinion I just bought some golden beets, and a butternut squash for example, and I know those are nowhere to be found at Joe’s, but at the same time Whole Foods is pretty big and can fit all those items Joe’s can not.

  Both stores have an annoying parking lot, and both stores have great employees, so it all comes down to my final comments and they are that I love playing with new and different ingredients that I am not used too and Whole Foods has been great getting in many ethnic ingredients that could only be found in certain areas of the city. I will be chalking up one point too Whole Foods and I know I am probably sparking a great debate but thats why I am here so if anyone is reading and would like to comment please do and do not bring up the whole infestation thing with Whole Foods, I know and if you only knew how many of your favorite restaurants are filled with pooh, well we will debate about that another time. Stoepel Out!

                        The End? – I kinda like this Blog thing.




One response

24 09 2008

Like you, I have never heard of the majority of TJ’s wines but I love exploring them. If you are interested in some suggestions here are my top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines

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