Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

Trading Up December 8, 2008

Today, I post with a purpose, mes amis: to sing the praises of my favorite jungle of healthy sustenance, Trader Joe’s.

First, for those of you who do not live in one of the 23 states graced with these bastions of affordable organic wonders, allow me to paint a picture. Trader Joes’ (Trader Joe’ses??) are fashioned to appear as massive trade ships of exotic culinary treasures. Although relatively small compared to Whole Foods, Joe’s is packed with hard-to-find products, unusual produce and a staff that doesn’t look at you like you’re from another planet if you don’t smell like patchouli, make your own clothes and/or wear your hair in dreadlocks. Joe’s also has its own store brand that, in general, is EXTREMELY affordable (read: dirt cheap) and boast no artificial colors or flavorings.

For anyone who thinks they can’t afford such luxuries as organic or whole foods, you should know that on the whole, Trader Joe’s is even more affordable than my neighborhood grocery store (the only drawback being their size and specialty means I have to make a second trip to the regular store for certain items). Ok, I lied. There is a second drawback, and that is that there are only TWO Trader Joe’s in my city.

Seriously? You guys are always packed every time I take the trip out there; people love you; we would certainly love you even more if you were closer to home. (Pst…just by the way, Trader Joe’s, there is a really great furniture store that closed down and would make an exquisite location for something in the way of, say… a health food store?? Just a thought).

Perhaps, however, it’s not so bad that these stores require a mini-voyage. It makes the experience feel special, rather than mundane errand-running, and I definitely give myself the extra time to explore. (As a person with a wheat sensitivity, Joe’s has become a treasure hunt, with new gluten/wheat-free products showing up on every return visit: bagels, waffles, pumpkin bread, gnocchi… brownies!!) And, should you need any other reason to make the trip yourself, I have two:

1) A CNN study just rated Trader Joe’s fourth among “healthy” national grocery store chains (see full story here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/diet.fitness/11/11/Healthmag.healthiest.grocery.stores/ picture-23

2) A recent Facebook status thread reveals the secret behind Joe’s popularity with the female demographic:

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So, there you have it. Set aside an afternoon or even a Friday night (the store stays open ’til 10pm), and go explore the mounds of wild produce or foggy freezer aisles (and perhaps grab a bottle of well-priced organic wine, or experiment with a six-pack of an unknown import).

Enough with the plugs, though. Two and a half weeks until Christmas break (the company I work for gives us a mandatory 11 days off – we couldn’t come to work even if we wanted to – which we don’t, but still, a nice gesture). I’ll be out to my parents place for a few days, then down to North Carolina for New Year’s with J. Can’t wait to have the whole family together for Christmas, though. The Evil Twin will be coming up for the occasion, and little Bro will inevitably hitch a ride with me out to my parent’s place. The Gabe monster will get to go, too, and everything will be as it should be for a few days. And I feel lucky to say (because I’ve heard many a dysfunctional family holiday story from friends and coworkers) that this, for me, is what Christmas is about.

The only possible tiff I can see is that I bought the Evil Twin a present that I , myself, covet dearly, and I may, out of desperation, be forced to hide her gift (after she opens it of course), so that she will “accidentally” leave it behind, at which point I will have to make use of it until she returns so that it does not go to waste in the meantime.

(Kidding, of course! I would never!)

(Or would I?)

(Muah ah ah…).

~a

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