Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What a pilgrimage means to me

I am not a religious or spiritual person, so for me, what falls near and dear to my heart is different than what others might find is dear to them. We used to live in a large metropolitan area with a ton of various resources available to us. It was easy to come by organic foods, or natural products, or a community of like-minded people. About two years ago we moved south, to an area that still has a "city," but it is much smaller and the vibe is a lot different. I found myself struggling to maintain the same type of healthy lifestyle we were accustomed to.

One of the things I found myself missing most was Trader Joe's. You have to understand.... I LOVE Trader Joe's. And where we lived before, it wasn't an issue of whether there was a Trader Joe's, it was a matter of which one was closest to your home and which one you most frequently drove past as you went about your life. So I frequented four different ones, and I had my favorites.

And then we moved. And there was no Trader Joe's, and I was sad. When my parents came to visit, my mom would bring me some things from Trader Joe's. Once she even mailed me Trader Joe's things! And when we went to a city near-ish by that had a Trader Joe's, we would go there and bring things back. And when we drove up north to visit family, we'd stop by Trader Joe's and bring things back. But when your vehicle is already loaded with four people and a horse of a dog and all their things, you can only bring so much back. Add to that a 10 hour drive and you're pretty limited.

But as mentioned in my last post, I bought a chest freezer. And with all that freezer space comes all kinds of options. So what else could I do this weekend but drive to Athens, Georgia and hit Trader Joe's?! I mean, really. What else could I have possibly done with my day? It's not like I have kids or school or anything else. Geez.

So off we went. Coolers in the back, rear seats folded into the floor, we were ready! And we got there, and oh holy saints alive, it was amazing! It was like being home again! People with dreadlocks, Birkenstocks, and tattoos! And happy employees! And teeny tiny carts!(why do they do that??) I had a list in my head of a couple of things friends had asked me to pick up for them as well, because of course everyone I know understands the wonder that is Trader Joe's, even here in the deep south.

We made it, literally, down one aisle before I had to get a second cart and recruit Kadin to push it. The wonderful thing about Trader Joe's is that nothing they sell has HFCS or food dyes, so as far as avoiding these for Ansel, I didn't have to check a single label. (FWIW, the same is also true for the store I shop at here, Earth Fare.) But the plan was to stock up on things that I, first off, love, and secondly, that are cheaper at Earth Fare than elsewhere, so that I would be 'stocked' on these things for three months. Which means my next pilgrimage is planned for January! Woot! I can hardly wait already!

It's worth noting that a few things happened.... The two carts were piled so high Kadin couldn't see over either one, and I had to direct him. We also killed their cash register... it freaked out and froze, the receipt was too long to print and we killed their printer, and two guys had to each push two carts full of bagged items out to our car. On the way out, the one guy asked, "Do you have a Mac truck for all this?" To which I replied, "Nope! Just a minivan." Trader Joe's employees being awesome, they even helped me dig out frozen items to load into my coolers.

Was it worth it? Oh heck yes! All $528 of it! (No lie, really.) It was summed up almost immediately upon driving away, when each child was given a fruit leather to enjoy. Ansel said, "I like this candy!" I didn't protest, even though it's not candy at all, and is only fruit, no added sugar. Why should I argue?

As we drove away. Kids have fruit leather, I acquire coffee, and I bask in the awesomeness of all that I purchased at the beautiful place. If you have one near you, appreciate it.

When we got home, I had to take a picture of it all. The other angle just didn't take in the magnitude of it.

Excuse the weird orbs that happened with my phone pictures. I'm quite sure my house isn't haunted. It's just glare. Really.

It's a good thing my counters were clear when I got home.(Because I cleared them before I left, no magic cleaning elves here! Or ghosts.) There were a lot of wonderful things to sort.

I don't like their white cheddar popcorn at all. Why do you ask?

No, I do not dream of their amazing frozen pizzas on really busy nights when I don't have time to, or energy to, cook anything more labor intensive. Ok, fine, I do. Pair this with a quick side salad and it's a great dinner for us. Next to it, you can kind of see some frozen fish. I bought enough for us to have these once a week until January. Amazing!

Phew! That was fun. I am so excited! So far we've finished a bag of the popcorn, the kids have eaten about half a box of squeeze yogurts, and we're working on a box of amazing cereal bars that taste like real things! And aren't fluorescent colors!

Oh, and I feel like I need to say... The bags will not be wasted. I use their bags for my paper recycling storage until I go drop it off at the recycling center. Yes, I do usually use reusable bags, but Trader Joe's has always been my exception to get the bags for recycling.


  1. I totally get this! I've got one friend on board to go to Albuquerque to make a costco run. I feel like i need to get one more on board to make it worth the gas etc. But seriously, they have so many organics and foods we eat! I dream about it! Thankfully we have a wonderful health food store but still. Still. I dream!

  2. LOVE Costco! We're getting one in November and I am sooo excited!

  3. Too funny! By the way, thanks for finding me on the web, which led to me finding your lovely blog here. Anyhow, I confess to being a recovering-TJ-addict. Now, without one for a year I am beginning to forget what I used to buy there. And then on some random night I'll remember those pre-made lovely gnocchis. Or the vegetarian taquitos I can't seem to find ANY WHERE else. Or the veggie corndogs I also have yet to find in any other store. And those yummy tamales. OK, enough. The last time I was near a TJs it was a four hour drive home and I opted not to go in...so I think I'm officially cured until I move near the city again. :)

  4. Wow! Good for you! I can't help myself. It just has so much to offer! I say this after just having eaten some cave aged gruyere I got there. So good!