Thursday, September 8, 2011

Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Costco, OH MY!

That's raspberries on the right, blackberries on the left and Mr. B in the middle!
August, 2011

On a gorgeous, but terribly hot, Sunday afternoon, Mr. B and I took off towards the mountains of western North Carolina.  It was a bit of a ramble further into this particular section of the mountains than we'd ever been.  Although we were never really lost, it often felt as if we were, but once we reached our end destination, what a sweet gem of a place we'd found!

In my journey towards healthy eating, arriving at, and maintaining an appropriate weight, I've set some higher standards for myself (and wishfully for Mr. B!) with respect to WHAT I eat and WHERE it comes from.  Earlier this summer, I stumbled upon the most wonderful book entitled, Farm Fresh North Carolina and I'm having such fun combining delicious food finds with really cool roadtrips!  Zimmerman's Berry Farm was one such discovery. 

It was the raspberries that drew me!!  I've picked blackberries all my life and have a wonderful source at our local farmer's market, but raspberries were new and I wasn't even sure our area was conducive to their growth.   These were plump, bright red and totally luscious.  It is such a joy to visit these local farms, meet the growers and experience some of their enthusiasm along with the obvious pride in what they've produced.  The grower happened to be in his little shed when we finished, but we had already discovered upon our arrival that the system was totally based on honor.  Inside the little shed was a scale for weighing what you'd picked and a place to leave your money.  In the spirit of total honesty, we left more money than what was weighed because it's my guess we ate half a pound as we picked!

I wished I had taken more pictures.  The only negative of the day was that it was incredibly hot, so we didn't linger long.  But you can bet we'll be back!

 Honor Shed for weighing your "gold."

An incredibly beautiful place in the mountains of western North Carolina!

I am a native East Tennessean and most of the time, am proud to call it home!  The one time I cringe is when any sort of health statistics, obesity/weight comparison or fitness oriented surveys are released.  I know we will always be near or on the bottom.  Not everyone in Tennessee is lazy or obese as we are often portrayed in movies, but many are and the news doesn't often seem encouraging!  

For me, the way this plays out is in our lack of convenient access to many things most of you take for granted.  It has only been in the last few years that we've gained access to a good farmer's market.  Most of our chain grocery stores are sadly lacking in locally grown produce, health foods or anything out of the ordinary.  Memphis and Nashville, the two largest metropolitan areas are bright spots with better options and both have a Trader Joes and a Whole Foods.  Without appearing to be totally negative, I am happy to say that here in Knoxville, we do have Fresh Market and Earth Fare, both of which provide better alternatives than our major grocery store chains.  We also have Three Rivers Market, a co-op where I have not shopped, but has just moved into much larger facilities and I plan to check it out.

So imagine my surprise and utter delight, when within a span of three months, Costco, Whole Foods AND Trader Joes ALL announced definitive plans to locate in Knoxville.  Rumors had been running rampant for years about Costco and more recently, Whole Foods, but Trader Joes came out of the blue and all three are a done deal.  I am so excited.  All three are to be completed and open for business sometime in 2012. 

Mr. B and I do not live on the newer side of town and this is quite by choice.  The Costco and Whole Foods will be a good distance away, but the Trader Joe's will be fairly close by and conveniently located next door to my favorite Barnes and Noble, a place I visit frequently!  I've patiently read your reviews, gazed longingly at product pictures and silently hoped the day would come I, too could shop at these places.  I know it's still a year away, but can you tell I'm pretty pleased.

Maybe there's hope for my beloved Tennessee to get with the program and catch up................

P.S.  I am so excited to tell you that when this posts Thursday morning, I will already be on my way to hike here.  With the record rainfall we had from Tropical Storm Lee, these falls will be gushing.  Me and my hiking boots are simply giddy with anticipation.  It's been far too long - can't wait!

Do you shop at either of these stores?  Are they close by?  Do you shop exclusively at this type of grocery or do you also use other sources for groceries?


  1. I hope you're having an awesome hike!

    Memphis doesn't have a TJ's, but we do have Whole Foods and Fresh Market and other local markets. I've shopped at all of them (TJ's in other cities) and actually prefer Kroger, which has a really good grocery selection, far better prices, and is 2 blocks from my house. Maybe if I bought more "products" or was a more adventurous cook, the other stores would have greater appeal. As it is, I can get healthy versions of those I do eat at Kroger and pay less for them.

    The one thing I do love about WF is the food and spice bins, where I can choose how much I want to buy. Very handy for trying new things or buying small amounts of seldom-used spices. Love the bins!

  2. When I was in the Dayton, Ohio area, I shopped at Trader Joe's frequently. They really do have quite a few interesting, healthy items. The TJ brand is top-notch quality. Just watch out for TJ's ginger snaps -- really, don't even go there!! Seriously though, they do have some things. It's more of a speciality store for me -- like going for the "health food" items not found in a regular grocery. However these days, I'm staying away from many of the things I used to get there like almond butter and peanut butter Puffins. If you're a Greek yogurt person, you cannot beat TJ's prices on Greek yogurt that tastes just as good as the more expensive brands.

    Whole Foods -- there is one in LR. I go about once per month. Their bulk bins are relatively cheap and contain every grain, nut, or granola you can imagine. The granolas are really high in calories though. I buy quinoa and wheat berries in bulk there. I also stock up on Larabars (try them if you haven't -- wonderful date-based, all natural, oat-free bars) and sodium free black beans. There's a great variety of things... fun to just browse. I always find interesting things. And if you're a meat eater, you can find grass-fed beef, organic chickens, and the like. If you're not a meat eater, they have a wide selection of tempeh, seitan, etc. And they make fantastic guacamole.

  3. I'm happy to imagine you hiking along the falls today. Hope you have a great time. And that's wonderful news on the trifecta of good groceries coming your way. You know I like shopping at Whole Foods. I mostly go there for healthy or super fresh foods that I can't snag at my other groceries (whole wheat egg noodles, beautiful fresh veggies for a company dinner, etc). I shop at Costco for staples (chicken broth, milk, oatmeal, yogurt, orange juice) and for whatever they have that looks good in the fruit/veggie line. I almost never go to TJ, although there's one nearby. It's small and seems more expensive.

  4. Oh those berries!

    Well, Costco, often. There are several "staples" that we buy there including milk. Today we are actually planning to get a Sam's Club membership too while they have a special deal. We gave up that years ago when we defected to the Costco. Sam's is even closer to the house and they do have a few products that the other doesn't.

    Whole Foods - hardly ever. I used to have some items I got from there but they were actually things I don't eat anymore. (Okay... you are probably wondering. Some great biscotti and some yummy ginger cookies and dried veggie chips and...) I go in now and then for something. Pricier than the other stores for the same items though.

    TJs. Sigh. I have a post ready about this. Ours finally opened after long anticipation. I found they also have a lot of products that are just very tempting to me that I should not eat. Oh, to be "normal."

    I had high hopes to find some great non-fat or low-fat cheeses at the WF and TJs, but, nope.

    So, other than the Costco stuff, I do most of the shopping at grocery stores and Target.

  5. Love all three of those stores - we have Trader Joe's within 7 minutes from the house; in fact I've walked (2.3 miles each way) there and back when I only had a few items to get that would fit in the back pack.

    I LOVE Costco, but the closest is about 25 minutes away. My membership has lapsed but I'll probably re-up it when a friend invites me again!

    Whole foods is good, but much pricier for some things. For stuff I can't get elsewhere - I pay whatever just to get it. Very blessed to be able to do that!

    Yay for Tennessee joining the new milennium of great shopping!

  6. I love berries of all kinds! Once you get your Whole Foods and TJ's check out my printable grocery lists for both stores on my blog. Click on My Pantry tab on the home page and it takes you to printable grocery lists!

    I shop at the Organic Farmers Market and a variety of stores including, Sam's Club, Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Target, Raleys, Safeway and Belair grocery stores!

    There are certain products I can only get at certain stores. So over the coarse of a month or 6 weeks I poke my head in a variety of stores depending on whats on my menu.

  7. I love the berry farm. I have been wanting raspberries lately.

    I am happy that you're getting your beloved Trader Joes! Honestly, I hardly ever go to ours because it is total chaos and I get frustrated trying to get to what I want.

  8. Our nearest Costco is 15 miles away, and TJ's and WF is 22 and 24 miles respectively. I grew up in Western New York where Wegman's originated, and that place is a festival of amazing food. I believe their stores are only on the East Coast. They also had fabulous farmers' markets back East.

    When Clint and I retire out West (hopefully I will live long enough to see the day), there is a chain of stores called Raley's which are similar to Wegman's. Very nice food.

    I usually make a trip to Costco and TJ's about every three weeks -- rarely go to WF...I've been disappointed in some of their quality. Their prices, despite what they say, are still pretty exhorbitant.

  9. The first (and only) time I ever went blueberry picking for wild blueberries was so much fun. It was like a hunt of the blue kind. We just wandered around all day looking for wild blueberry bushes--and sometimes struck gold, and other times went bust for quite a while. That was in northern Minnesota, up by Canada.

    :-) Marion

  10. I'd love to go berry picking. Must research in this area!

    Now that I'm not working I'm not near any of these stores. Personally, Whole foods is fascinating to me, but completely overpriced. Honestly, their produce is WAY overpriced and is not as good as some other stores. Trader Joe's is one of a kind! Love some of the stuff you can get there, and some of the prices are fantastic. I have been to a Sprouts lately and I really love it. Great produce at great prices, and a section of bins where you can buy almost anything by the pound. I have taken to re-filling containers this way--much cheaper. I even got cocoa powder there. Costco of course has some great prices, but the volume is sometimes too much for me. Some of their produce is really great. Its hard to buy berries at the grocery store after being able to buy them for a better price at Costco.

  11. I love berries so much. They are delicious here in Oregon!!

    We have all of these stores near by. My hubby loves Costco....I prefer smaller favorite Haggens has closed. I am sad about that!

    Keep focused!

  12. I adore Trader Joe's. Their fig bar cereal bar is delicious and only 120 calories. It is one of my safe snacks. They also have the best prices on organic milk. I am not a member of Costco and doubt I will be. Whole Foods: once in a while. We have a great and local good quality grocer here that I go to. I am guessing it is similar to WF. The best part of this local grocer is their produce~absolutely no one is equal to their quality and freshness.

    Enjoy your hike!