Rough Draft - Lynda Guerrero Humanities 202 Professor...

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Lynda Guerrero Humanities 202 Professor Sweeting “Trader Joes: The Side Not Advertised” March 19, 2008 Trader Joes is advertised as the neighborhood grocery store that gives you a quick exotic culinary experience without the high prices of airfare. What people may not know is that many of the ‘exotic’ products come with a high price to the environment and economy. A pantry filled with Trader Joes products has items from all over the world leaving a high carbon footprint on the buyer’s diet. I set out to determine how many of the products in one Boston, Massachusetts Trader Joes came from foreign countries and just how far these products were transported. I found that not only did these products travel far distances, in some cases close to ten thousand miles, many of them also came from economically exploited farms worked by poor exploited workers. My research revealed that Trader Joes, the neighborhood eco-friendly grocery store, has a high environmental and economic cost to the global community. During my visit to the Boston Trader Joes I surveyed 489 randomly selected items from a list of most popular items provided by a cashier. I looked at the top four items: fruit, cheese, wine and coffee (Anonymous). I cataloged each item, where it came from, and the route it traveled to Boston. I then calculated the approximate distance each item traveled. A summary of this data can be found in appendix A. I found that cheese and wine are two products that are imported literally from almost every country in the developed world along with many developing countries. These items come from places such as Italy, France, Holland, Mexico, Spain, Guatemala, England, Switzerland and many other distance countries. This Trader Joes’ cheeses products traveled an average
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distance of over 5,000 miles and their wine products traveled an average distance of over 6,000 miles. An interview with one cashier (who chose not to release his name due to the nature of my research) revealed that the wine and chesses from ‘exotic’ locales are the most popular. “People love to come in to their neighborhood store and leave with exotic products from all over. That’s part of the Trader Joes appeal, you get the exotic culinary experience without the expense of travel” (Anonymous). The cashier was simply reciting the phrase found on the stores two entrances, but clearly he, along with the average Trader Joes consumer, seems to be neglecting the fact that when food is transported there is a price extending beyond the consumers pocket. Importing food from international markets is environmentally taxing. Food must travel on boat or plane into the United States. Many of these ships and planes must be temperature controlled in order to preserve the fresh nature of the food in transport; this requires additional fuel. Once the products reach the United States they are unpacked and transported by truck or by another plane cross country for distribution. Each mile of transportation releases carbon, a harmful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. I found
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