I am off meal plan, which means I go to grocery stores not for the novelty of avocados, but for the necessity of buying edible things to consume so I don’t disappear. There is only one grocery store that does not make this experience unbearable, and that is Trader Joe’s. But before I wax poetic on the glory that is Trader Joe’s, I have a few things to say to its walking distance competitors.
Really, Whole Foods? It’s gonna be like that? Whole Foods is the girl next door. In terms of proximity, it’s doing all the right things. I look at it and see things I know I want. Like chocolate covered espresso beans. I look over and see things I totally could see myself wanting. Like goji berries. I have never seen a goji berry in my daily life, which puts them on the same plain of existence as blue raspberries and unicorns.
But damn. Goji. What a fun name for a berry I want inside of me. Unfortunately, I cannot spend $12 on a bag of magic berries which, all told, contains two hundred calories. In my fight to stay alive, I cannot spend $120 on two-thousand calories.
Nuts! Those can sustain me. Just kidding. Almonds are also $12. I recently saw a paper bag from Whole Foods that said ‘collards are the new kale’. What does that even mean, Whole Foods?! Collard greens have been around forever. The Ratty has them on soul food night. That’s how not-new they are. Guess what, Whole Foods. I’m going to do three laps around your free sample circuit and call it a meal.
East Side Market, real cute trying to hide, but you cannot escape my fury. When I got off meal plan, the elder students of Brown swore by your low prices. Either they are stupid or lying because your shit costs just as much as Whole Foods, but you have less free samples and a significantly more confusing store layout. I see you trying to trick me into buying organic by putting that shit first. Not gonna work, East Side. I will consume as many pesticides as necessary to be able to eat AND do laundry.
Guess where I can get apples and oranges and bananas and hummus and bread for a trillion dollars less and half a mile closer: East Side MINI MART. For real. And then I just go to the back without being bombarded by aisles which go in every direction and end up leading me to $7 pints of strawberries. Your student discount on Wednesday helps (really, thank you), but it’s pretty negligible. Pro-tip: East Side sells $10 bags of frozen blueberries that contain 10 CUPS OF BLUEBERRIES. That is so many.
And Trader Joe’s, though I love you, I wish I didn’t have to trade sexual favors for a ride to your pearly gates in Warwick. That said, totally worth it. Last time I went to Trader Joe’s, there was a sign out front that said “62 Pumpkin flavored items.” I don’t even like pumpkin that much, but I have nothing but respect for going big or going home.
Trader Joe’s certainly doesn’t go home. In fact, it goes all the way around the world. Trader Jose’s (Mexican food), Trader Ming’s (Chinese food), Baker Josef’s (flour and bagels), Trader Giotto’s (Italian food), Trader Joe-San (Japanese food), Arabian Joe’s (Middle Eastern food), Pilgrim Joe’s (New England specialties), and Trader Jacque’s (French food). Is that a little offensive? Maybe, or maybe Joe just has a diverse friend group.
And it’s so cheap! Prepared frozen foods, produce, hummus (horseradish hummus…) all of it! I got three week’s of groceries for $36 dollars, a.k.a. 3 bags of goji berries. The fun Hawaiian shirts, the always-on-point free sample. TJ’s got it all. Also, guess what. No, really, guess. Cookie Butter is vegan.
God bless you, Trader Joe. But please come to Providence.
And fuck all three of you for not selling alcohol.