Fish Tale: Does Trader Joe's Sell Endangered Seafood?
this under Good Stores Doing Bad Things. The environmentally sensitive
consumer's dilemma is embodied in Four Story blogger Nathan Walpow's recent post,
"My World Is Coming Down Around Me," about charges that Trader Joe's is
not green enough when it comes to protecting fish. "Quick," writes
Walpow, "somebody make sense out of this for me. I can't have another
of my diminishing list of icons shattered."
Fish R Us
Photo credit: Greenpeace.org
The source of Walpow's angst is the Greenpeace USA-spun blog, Traitor Joe's,
a look-alike site mimicking Trader's Joe's own Web page, but which
accuses Trader Joe's of "greenwashing" to project an eco-friendly image
while selling endangered sea food. A link connects readers with a
recently issued Greenpeace scorecard, which ranks TJ's No. 17 (out of 20 stores selling seafood) for being "the largest US grocer operating on a nation-wide
scale that refuses to substantively respond to
Greenpeace inquiries regarding its seafood
sustainability policies and practices."
Specifically, Greenpeace blasts TJ's for selling "red list" species such as orange roughy,
Chilean sea bass, Atlantic salmon and monkfish."
dutifully carries a link to TJ's response, which really isn't a
response but a few paragraphs that are part of the company FAQ page
regarding store "issues." The brief statement does claim that the chain
stopped selling Chilean sea bass in 2005 as a direct result of customer
pressure, and that "when we do offer seafood species on the Monterey
Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch 'red' or 'avoid' list, we undertake
additional steps to fully understand the ways in which those items come
to market to be sure they fit with our customers' needs and concerns.
We're also evaluating alternatives to those red list species."
the company was contacted by phone, Trader Joe's executive vice
president for marketing and merchandising, Joe Basalone, issued this
statement: "Trader Joe's does not participate in any surveys. As a result,
information gets gleaned from sources outside of Trader Joe's, and this
can lead to inaccurate reporting, which can lead to confusion. That's
why we wanted to take a moment to clear up a few things.
report details that Trader Joe's sells a certain number of items on
their 'Red List.' But several of the items that they call out are NOT
for sale in our stores. We do NOT sell Chilean Sea Bass, Monkfish,
Ocean Quahog or Redfish in any of our stores. In fact, Trader Joe's
sells fewer items on that 'Red List' than the #1 ranked grocery
retailer in their report."
"In response to TJs announcement [regarding] all the fish that they 'don't
sell,'" Greenpeace USA spokesman Daniel JKessler emailed, "they are victims of their own lack of transparency. To
illustrate, the ocean quahog that they 'absolutely do not sell' is
easily found. Just look in any can of Trader Joe's brand clam chowder.
It's mislabeled as 'sea clam.'"
In the wake of Greenpeace's scorecard, some San
Francisco TJ's stores were targeted by protesters dressed as fish. In a
culture that has become inured to shaming campaigns, it remains to be
seen how effectively the scorecard and protests will play with
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Los Angeles dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.
More Food & Drink News
- A New Wave of L.A. Social Enterprises Serve Pizza and Coffee With Community in Mind
- SCI-Arc's Adorable Campus Cafe Is No College Cafeteria (And It's Open to the Public)
- In a City With Few Meat CSAs, Could This Box Be the Future of Grass-Fed Beef?
- Chef Phillip Frankland Lee's 10 Favorite San Fernando Valley Restaurants