Hero of healthy foods: Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods?

Aliza Herz & Izzy Gold, Staff Writers

When you hear the words “Trader Joe’s” or “Whole Foods,” do you think healthy and organic?  If so, you are right. Both stores do sell healthy organic foods. However, the decision to shop at either of the two stores can be quite cumbersome.  After all, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both contain similar food products.

Organic foods are often cheaper at Trader Joe’s than at Whole Foods.  For example, a package of quinoa, a protein-packed grain, costs $9.99 at Whole Foods but $4.99 at Trader Joe’s. A significant difference, right?  Additionally, gluten-free Cheese Pizza at Whole Foods costs $7.49 while at Trader Joe’s it costs $4.99.

Trader Joe’s might win in the field of better prices, but in terms of promoting community-wide philanthropy, Whole Foods takes the prize.  Whole Foods offers a money-lending program to local farmers called, the Local Produce Loan Program.  The program offers low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans. Furthermore, Whole Foods buys from regional farmers, ranchers, and growers to support small businesses.  To take its message of good will even further, Whole Foods stopped offering plastic grocery bags as of Earth Day in 2008.  By doing so, the company saved 150 million bags its first year. For many, this message is enough to convince them to shop at Whole Foods.

Many people today are worried about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Whole Foods, however, makes it easy to avoid these GMOs with their private label brand, 365.  According to Whole Foods, all of its foods are sourced to avoid GMOs.  Whole Foods also keeps a list of “unacceptable ingredients,” items that will never appear in its line of products.  365 offers quality ingredients as well as a great range of products, which explains the high prices.

“I think Whole Foods is overall better than Trader Joe’s,” said junior Talia Silverstein. “I feel that there is a much larger variety of items and it is much more convenient since there is one right on Northern Boulevard while the closest Trader Joe’s is in Garden City.”

But don’t get us wrong, Trader Joe’s certainly has its perks.

Although Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s give out free samples, Trader Joe takes food tasting to the next level. It is the company’s policy that if a customer were to ask a store employee about a product, the employee can personally find it, open it, and let the customer taste it. To make the franchise even more unique, Trader Joe’s works on limited runs.  This means that once the products on the shelves are sold out, that is it; you can not buy them again.  In addition to this, Trader Joe’s will often discontinue products in order to keep a constant rotation of new and improved products on its shelves.  Many of these products are the company’s own brand.

Both are organic, both are healthy,  yet the two stores are known for different products.  Whole Foods is revered for its fresh produce such as seafood, while Trader Joe’s is known for its frozen foods such as cookie butter and frozen Mac and cheese.

“For me, Trader Joe’s is a much better choice because I prefer a smaller store and the prices are much cheaper than at Whole Foods,” said Schreiber parent, Ms. Ila Scheckner.

So there you have it: the pros and cons of both stores.  Now it is your turn to decide.