It’s fall, and Trader Joe’s is chock full of pumpkin-flavored and apple-spiced everything. Jamie Hughes, a 23-year-old resident of Brooklyn, has been spending the past few months happily eating microwavable Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese and hoping that a damning exposé illuminating a sexist corporate culture or shady environmental practices isn’t about to hit the newsstands anytime soon.
“Every morning, I check the New York Times and Buzzfeed homepages, praying that there isn’t going to be an in-depth interview with a former executive who is finally ready to tell her story and then three op-eds in The Atlantic looking at the issue from all sides,” she said.
“Trader Joe’s treats their employees well and some of their packaging is recyclable,” she said, clutching her box of Kitchen Sink Dunkers to her chest in fear. “Can I just have this one thing?”
The grocery store chain is notoriously secretive about the facilities and methods where its signature projects are made. Hughes is just crossing her fingers that her Everything Pretzel Slims aren’t manufactured in a Malaysian sweatshop, infused with chemicals, or baked in a facility where women are encouraged to “dress like women.”
While TJ’s has often been criticized for its role in gentrification, Hughes said, “I live in Bushwick, so it’s kind of unavoidable.”
When asked whether she would stop shopping there if something scandalous did come out, Hughes didn’t hesitate. “Oh, I would never shop anywhere that doesn’t align with my values. I mean, I would probably still eat their stuff if my friends had it at their houses, especially the milk chocolate macadamia nut Lacey’s cookies. And if they came out with something really good, like mini cookie butter ice cream sandwiches, I would have to try that, of course. But I would absolutely stop going there, or at least cut down my shopping trips to once a week.”
Hughes went on to wonder if there’s something inherent about corporate structures that makes them inevitably evil. In the meantime, she’s just going to keep drinking her $10 box of Trader Joe’s red wine and hope for the best.