Okay. I am going to admit to something that I am sure will get me no end of hate mail. Or, since we were never allowed to say “hate” when I was growing up, strong-dislike mail.
I don’t like Trader Joe’s and I love Whole Foods.
There. I said it. And I shall not be ashamed.
I have tried to like Trader Joe’s, really I have. I have gone, and spent money, and eaten of their bounty, and I just, um, can't get it up for them. The produce makes me sad, wan and limp and lonely. The meats always seem suspect. They are great for random snack foods, some frozen goods and a bottle of wine, but the truth is every time I have ever been to a Trader Joe’s, I have left the store and gone directly to a Whole Foods to fill out my coffers.
Which is not to say that WFM doesn't have its drawbacks. Obviously Whole Paycheck is a jabillion times more expensive. And things like an amazing cheese selection and delectable prepared foods sections are very dangerous to a fat-ass foodie like me. I have been known to leave with two small bags coming in at over $200 and gotten home to find that I don’t actually have the makings for one complete meal.
I don’t do my regular big shopping there, just FYI, I have a couple of wonderful local supermarkets that do not require one to hock a kidney in order to afford their wares. I would no more buy toilet paper or canned goods or other staples at WFM than I would order a gold plated toilet. (Not to be confused with the gold-plated urinal which happily resides at the Farm, and is a tale for another day.) I go for specialty items, treats and organics, and often for produce, which I try to buy if not every day, every other day as a means of combating my natural instincts to hoard food, which results in endless melty fruits and veg that need to be tossed out.
And then there is the clientele. I much prefer the gang at Trader Joe’s for companionability. While it seems likely they are all stoned to the gills seventy-four percent of the time, and one sees a much higher incidence of the truly unfortunate “white guy dreads”, at least at TJ I would never have overheard this conversation between a 4 year old and his mother.
4 year old (in very loud, whiny voice): But Mooooom, I don't LIKE the Merlot, I LIKE the CABERNET!!!! Nanny Suuuuusie knows that.
Mom (taking break from Blackberrying to shift her Bottega purse to the other shoulder, and rolling her eyes as best as one can with a Botox-immobile forehead): Lucien, precious, they are out of the Cabernet, you can have either the Merlot or the Chardonnay.
I stand there thinking that I have fallen down a rabbit hole into France, and wondering if she is going to hand the kid a cigarette next.
Lucien (stamping little feet in little Crocs and beginning to wail): I don't LIIIIIIKE the Merlot or the Chardonnay, I LIIIIIKE THE CABERNET AND NANNY SUUUUUUSIE ALWAYS BUYS ME THE CABERNET!!!!
Mom, with teeth clenched, causing little temple ripples in otherwise motionless forehead: Lucien, if you do not stop this right now you will get regular grape juice AND a TIME OUT when we get home.
Note: Since when is juice punishment? I mean, can you imagine YOUR mom saying such a thing? Punishment is no television (a punishment I once suffered for a whole freaking year due to being a brat of gargantuan proportions). Punishment is extra chores, or no dessert, or having a favorite toy taken away. Or having your birthday party cancelled. (Which I also suffered through, again totally deserved, and someone please remind me to call my parents and thank them for putting up with me during my raging mini-bitch years and not selling me to gypsies.) But somehow the HORROR of REGULAR GRAPE JUICE eludes me. But I digress…
Lucien, weeping softly, and attaining the cadence of a caricature Jewish Mother: I'm sorry Mommy. Never mind. I won't have any juice.
Mom, picking him up and cradling him: Okay, little man, we can stop at the other store on the way home and see if they have your Cabernet. Okay?
Lucien, having learned important lesson about manipulation: Thank you mommy. I love you!
In case anyone is curious, Whole Foods is now carrying varietal grape juices, regular old plain grape juice not being good enough for the delicate palates of today's toddlers, and in fact, apparently now considered punishment in some circles. Good thing they are closing Gitmo before the next truckload of Welch’s arrives…
It's almost enough to make me shop at Trader Joe’s.