Dare I say anything negative about Trader Joe’s (TJ’s)? I know there are lots of loyal fans, me being one of them, at least for their nuts; nitrate-free, preservative-free bacon; perfectly grown haricot vert and delicious Huntsman cheese. But can I find the perfect whole grain cracker to go with that cheese at TJ’s? No way. There is not one box of Trader Joe crackers that is made from whole grains. And the worse thing, was all the sneaky ingredients in three of the crackers I examined. Trader Joe’s crackers are really no better than a Ritz cracker on steroids. How can Trader Joe’s, known for its consumer trust of selling only quality products not sell even one cracker made from whole grains, without all the processed ingredients?
Trader Joe Crackers Are Not What They Are Cracked Up To Be
Trader Joe’s 12 Grain Cracker and Multigrain Cracker are made with enriched flour, not a whole grain flour. A product that is whole grain will start with the word “whole” or “100% whole” in the list of ingredients, not with “enriched” flour or “unbleached” flour. Ingredients on a label are also listed in order by percentage of weight. Those 3 grams of fiber found in each serving are coming more from a fiber enhancer called inulin than the portions of grains, seeds and flax. Inulin is a naturally occurring dietary fiber, usually extracted from chicory root. It is known to increase gut bacteria, but is also a FODMAP, a type of carbohydrate rapidly fermented in the colon leading to gas and bloating. If TJ’s really wanted to provide fiber and boast about 12 grains, then why didn’t they just use the entire grain of each of the 12 grains of flour rather than starting with white flour and embellishing it with parts of 12 other grains along with inulin? Come on, TJ’s, this is just sneaky marketing for a disappointing product. You can do better than this!
Sugar In Trader Joe’s Crackers
All these crackers, including Trader Joe’s Social Snacks, contain not just sugar, but invert sugar as well. Sugar and invert sugar are listed as the third and fourth ingredient in these Social Snack crackers – adding 2 gms of sugar to every 8 crackers. And with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommending we limit added sugars to no more than 10% of our total daily calories, that’s about 50 gms for a 2000 calorie diet, these crackers are going to help us reach that. Why does a cracker need sugar in it anyway? Isn’t a cracker really just suppose to be about whole grains, oils and a bit of salt?
Here’s A Healthy Cracker!
One of my favorite crackers – one that would go great with Huntsman cheese – is Triscuit’s Thin Crisps by Mondelez. It’s made with just 3 ingredients – whole grain wheat, soybean oil and salt. The 3 gms of fiber in this serving are just coming from wheat berries, no fiber enhancers. And there is no sugar of any kind and they are even lower in fat than the first two crackers. These crackers have a great crunch, go well with humus, and are great just by themselves without a topper.
You Can’t Assume Anything When It Comes To Food Products
There’s so much I like about Trader Joe’s – their small stores with an easy lay-out, the friendly staff, many of their food products and even the bell they chime when a check-out person is available. But with their mission: “to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere”, Trader Joe’s has to do better with their crackers. Costumers want to trust their products but their crackers could be a heck of a lot healthier with a lot less processing. It goes back to my rule of thumb – find foods with as few ingredients as necessary and if you don’t know what an ingredient is, then assume it’s a cheap substitute for a healthier ingredient.
Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives. Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word.