As students on student budgets, we are always looking for the best quality for our money. This is why as we are given more options in the organic and local food industries, we want to put our money where it counts.
With all the alternatives out there these days, you might be wondering, where is the right place to shop? After an extensive investigation into some of our local healthy stores, we have come up with a list to help those still pondering their choices.
Trader Joe’s: Locations in both downtown Monterey, and Pacific Grove, both stores are concentrated in sometimes hard to find and hard to get to places. This can result in vicious combat against a Prius to find a parking spot.
Whole Foods: Right off the freeway, Whole Foods tends to have a generous amount of parking spaces. Located in the Del Monte shopping center, you can do other chores at the same time including laundry and tanning; two-thirds your way to a New Jerseyite’s wet dream.
Farmer’s Market: Local Farmer’s Markets in our area are plentiful. But most of them are once a week and very spread out. For those shoppers with set schedules, Farmer’s Market locations might not be a sure thing. Especially for those freshmen who don’t own cars.
Winner: Whole Foods Market. With its convenient spot right off the freeway and its handy placement between other shops is enough to convince us.
Trader Joe’s: Here, they tend to attract more of a low key, middle class, granola packing, seaweed snacking crowd.
Whole Foods: Rule number one- dressing up is a must, rule number two- checking people out is the unspoken understanding of Whole Foods mostly upper-class shoppers.
Farmer’s Market: A pleasant combination of hippies, and yuppies.
Winner: The Farmer’s Market. You can get your fill of Birkenstock and Prada all in the same place.
Trader Joe’s: Usually a kiosk in the back, TJ’s will sample something they want to sell more of. Most likely something you can buy pre-packaged and frozen--though still delicious!
Whole Foods: Conveniently placed little stands all around the store give you access to different options, though most are of the pre-packaged type as well.
Farmer’s Market: Almost every stand at the Farmer’s Market give away samples and you can get your choice of everything from already cooked foods to fresh picked fruits and veggies.
Winner: The Farmer’s Market by a landslide. We cunningly acquired fifteen different testers through our tirades of the Farmer’s Market.
Trader Joe’s: Always on the go, the workers of Trader Joe’s still find time to smile and genuinely look like they’re happy to be there. And uh-hello! Hawaiian t-shirts can brighten anyone’s day.
Whole Foods: Everywhere you turn in this store there is an employee asking whether you need help; it can get kind of repetitive and exasperating. Most customers who need help will find it.
Farmer’s Market: Most vendors at the Farmer’s Market are privately owned entrepreneurs who will help you with whatever you need. However, there are no general meet-and-greeters to point out the whereabouts of certain goods.
Winner: Trader Joe’s. Hawaiian shirts. ‘Nuff said.
Trader Joe’s: Moderately priced with a significant balance between want and need. We found a student can still ball on a budget while shopping here.
Whole Foods: Many overly priced items overwhelm the stores abundance of items.
Farmer’s Market: Sometimes overpriced, sacrifices must be made for buying local. Substituting this week’s meals for organic isn’t worth it if you have to eat top ramen for a month afterward.
Winner: Trader Joes. Their considerable amount of organic fresh foods can be easily bought on a student’s budget.
Ultimate Winner: Trader Joe’s
After considerable deliberation on the matter, we have come to the conclusion that Trader Joe’s is the best selection for those looking to get the most bang for their buck.
After a close call between Trader Joe’s and the Farmer’s Market, the Farmer’s Market’s lack of fixed location pushes it below Trader Joe’s. However, if you can afford to chase your organic produce wherever it goes, we readily urge you to buy local whenever you can.