Something Stinks…

by Michelle Frey

August 25, 2009

This weekend I stopped in my "neighborhood" Trader Joe’s to escape the hot, humid weather and do a little investigating. Are they really selling seafood that they shouldn’t? And, if so, how much? I was pumped with caffeine, armed with my camera phone and ready to find some answers.

The store was small, but there were seafood products in almost every aisle. The frozen section, canned goods, pre-packaged meals in the produce aisle and end-caps.  It didn’t take me very long to find seafood that was less-than-sustainable. In my scouring I netted lots of seafood that Greenpeace has on their red list. I easily hooked swordfish, yellowfin tuna, tropical shrimp, Atlantic salmon, cod, halibut and albacore tuna.


As I prowled the aisles searching for more red list seafood a strange announcement came over the intercom, “Would Mary please report to the captain’s desk?” What? Where was I, a grocery store or a marina? I admit Trader Joe’s has a fun décor and theme, but the fun stopped once I learned Trader Joe’s is harming the oceans by stocking their stores full of seafood that is helping to destroy the oceans.

What is Trader Joe’s thinking? They have organic produce. I didn’t see any plastic bags. Do they have a secret evil side to them that hates the oceans? Were they unaware that their seafood harms the environment?

Then, the sad truth dawned on me — like everything in this world, it’s all about the bottom line. Trader Joe’s can buy unsustainable seafood cheaply and sell it to all of us without sharing the dirty details. And, unless we make a big stink about it, they will continue to do so.

keep swordfish and cod in the oceans

Trader Joe shoppers want a good bargain, of course, but they also want to feel good about their purchases. That’s why Trader Joe’s spends so much money on fun in-store signs, web marketing and newsletters. They proclaim they are green and doing their part to help our planet. But, they aren’t doing enough.  

The pressure all of us have been applying is working. Trader Joe posted a note on their website stating, “As we’ve often mentioned, we listen to our customers. Hearing recent feedback, our goal is to offer seafood options that fit customer needs ranging from food safety and taste, to concern over the environment.”

But, they are still selling tons of red list seafood. And so, we need to keep the pressure up. Here are four quick things you can do to help. You’ll feel good after you do, of that, I’m sure!

  • When you are in the store shopping, find some red list seafood, bring it to a manger and ask them to stop selling the items in their stores. Here are some tips >>


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