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Can one live on Trader Joe's alone?

chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 01:45 PM

We have a young, Russian contractor in our office. He almost lives in the office. Sort of like Bartleby, Scrivener. He is here at all hours. As far as I can see he only leaves to play tennis and to sleep.

He takes all of his prepared Trader Joe's microwave meals in the office. I never see any fresh fruit or vegetables. Today I saw a chub of salami.

Will he get supersized? Malnutrition? It doesn't seem to affect his programming. He is super smart, but also super willful.

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    escondido123 RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 01:58 PM

    There is all you need for a balanced diet at Trader Joe's. Guess this guy is just making bad choices and ignoring all the fresh and prepared fruit and vegetable options.

    1. e
      ediblover RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 02:01 PM

      Not only live, but live well. Sure, there are a lot of misses along with the hits, but TJ does offer a lot of health-oriented products. I wouldn't mind (wouldn't choose to) eating only things from there. Heck, it'd give me an excuse to buy all their frozen desserts that I've been dodging.

      On fresh produce, from what we "know" of our nutritional needs, there's nothing in fresh fruits or vegetables that we need. Course, we really don't know all that much. There are compounds beyond vitamins and minerals that fresh produce have that are good for us, we just don't know enough to set a recommended amount and stuff.

      15 Replies
      1. re: ediblover
        escondido123 RE: ediblover Aug 19, 2011 03:55 PM

        There isn't a food group you can't find at TJs. And if you have no cooking facilities, they have proteins of all kinds ready to eat from their chilled case. I consider fruit and vegs to be an important part of my diet but of course you are free to make you own decisions, we're all different.

        1. re: escondido123
          mcf RE: escondido123 Aug 24, 2011 03:45 PM

          There's a difference between "important" and necessary. There is no human requirement for anything other than protein and fat. That's not to say there's no good reason to eat veggies, but you can be very healthy without them.

          1. re: mcf
            escondido123 RE: mcf Sep 4, 2011 10:43 AM

            Without fruit and vegetables I don't feel well, so they are both important and necessary for MY health. Others, of course, will make their own choices.

            1. re: mcf
              pdxgastro RE: mcf Sep 4, 2011 09:21 PM

              I'm right there with you, escondido. My body feels sluggish if I don't get some fruit/veggie cellulose.

              1. re: mcf
                Bkeats RE: mcf Sep 7, 2011 02:00 PM

                Really? Have you heard of scurvey? In the age of sailing ships, sailors who were fed a diet of dried beef and hard tack biscuits for months at a time would die from the lack of vitamin C.. First you get sores, your teeth fall out, the bones fail and then you die. You need fruits or vegetables to get vitamin C (unless of course you're taking some supplement or pill). You can get protein and fats from fruits and vegetable but I don't think there is any vitamin C lurking in your steak.

                1. re: Bkeats
                  mcf RE: Bkeats Sep 7, 2011 03:59 PM

                  Then you'd be wrong. The DRIED meat was the problem. The drying.

                  1. re: mcf
                    Bkeats RE: mcf Sep 8, 2011 07:36 AM

                    Ummm, did you stay awake in biology or history? Scurvy is caused by a deficiency of ascorbic acid which usually comes from vit C. Drying meat has nothing to do with whther meat has vit C or not. These days, almost everything is fortified but if you stick will an all animal protein based diet, your gums will get sore pretty quickly.


                    1. re: Bkeats
                      huiray RE: Bkeats Sep 8, 2011 10:11 AM

                      It's not a simple matter. Raw meat contains some Vitamin C but you need to eat it raw. Drying or cooking does reduce the Vit C content, processing often wipes it out completely. Animal organs contain much more Vit C - livers especially - and if you want to subsist on a pure meat diet you would need to eat (preferably) raw animal organs/offal since it is unlikely you - as a normal human primate - would eat enough raw muscle meat alone to get your DRI of Vit C.
                      Vit C DRI: http://iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/S...

                      Vit C content - meats:

                      Eskimos, whose traditional diet WAS essentially all meat, ate their meat largely raw or lightly cooked and also consumed offal/livers:

                      In addition to their eating the raw meat & organs of their animal prey, NON-PRIMATE carnivores (meaning NOT you or me, nor apes, monkeys, etc) also have the ability to synthesize their own Vit C due to their possessing a functional gene for the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase. Primates have a non-functional gene for this enzyme - which is why Vit C is an essential nutrient for you and me but, as it happens to be, not also your kid's hamster.

                      p.s. Dogs/canines are omnivores. Cats/felines are obligate carnivores - in the wild they would consume all/much of their prey, organs & stomach contents included; domesticated cats need supplementation of Vit C and other essential nutrients as they don't make enough Vit C on their own.

                      1. re: huiray
                        mcf RE: huiray Sep 8, 2011 12:22 PM

                        You do not need to eat it raw; look up the content of even stewed meats.

                        1. re: mcf
                          huiray RE: mcf Sep 8, 2011 02:46 PM

                          True, but then you would need to be sure to consume sufficient animal organs (liver, etc) rather than just muscle meat.

                          "Stewed meats" have other stuff added in. "Stewed meat" in those tables cannot mean the plain muscle meat stewed in its own juices without anything added, since the Vit C content of the raw meat, low to begin with cannot increase by an order of magnitude or so just by stewing it in its own juices. For example, raw beef of various cuts has more-or-less 0 Vit C in it, whereas "Beef stew, canned entree" has 10.2 mg Vit C/cup. Look at entry 22905 and the following entries for beef (raw) in this (better) publication: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp... . I imagine that canned beef stew probably has carrots and potatoes and oil and stock and thickening/flour in it, which add Vit C. (...and you would need to eat **9 cups** of it to get your DRI of Vit C)

                          From that same table, the values for pork varies from 0 to 1 mg Vit C per 3 oz portion - the highest being pan-fried bone-in pork loin chops, separable lean [entry 10176] - meaning it was fried in oil.

                          Compare with the daily recommended intake of 90 mg of Vit C for an adult male (for example) in the table I linked to in my previous post (http://iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/S...


                          The same situation broadly applies to chicken & fish.

                          Only when you eat the organs/offal, whether cooked or raw (better) do you begin to get larger amounts of Vit C. See the USDA table in this post again. So if you want to be purely carnivorous, you should eat a fair amount of animal organs.

                          1. re: huiray
                            huiray RE: huiray Sep 9, 2011 06:40 AM

                            Correction: In the second paragraph
                            "Look at entry 22905 and the following entries for beef (raw) in this (better) .." should read:
                            "Look at entry 22905 and the following entries for beef (cooked) in this (better)..."

                            1. re: huiray
                              mcf RE: huiray Sep 11, 2011 06:12 AM

                              According to study of the Inuit, eating dried meats (not the ones we're eating, except maybe char) and being certain to consume the broth that meats are stewed in supplies adequate vitamin C status, even without mention of organ meats, which are certainly useful. One can eat meat alone and remain healthy; the arctic explore experiment at Bellevue demonstrated this as well. But one has to choose sources well.

                        2. re: Bkeats
                          mcf RE: Bkeats Sep 8, 2011 12:22 PM

                          It is available from fresh meat sources in the amounts required to prevent scurvy, along with the mean for biosynthesis.

                          1. re: mcf
                            huiray RE: mcf Sep 8, 2011 03:07 PM

                            "...along with the mean for biosynthesis."
                            Do you mean "means" or "meat" ? In any case, as I mentioned above, primates lack the ability for biosynthesis of Vitamin C. We (humans) simply don't have the expressed functional enzyme in our bodies to make Vitamin C.

                    2. re: mcf
                      mcf RE: mcf Sep 7, 2011 03:58 PM

                      I eat boatloads of veggies, and modest amounts of fruit occasionally. I don't know anyone who eats close to the amount of veggies I do, low carbing. But there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate in human biology. That doesn't mean there aren't benefits from the good ones.

                2. Will Owen RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 04:05 PM

                  Just thinking over what's available in TJ's prepared-foods/convenience foods section alone, a person could probably live reasonably well just on those. Probably not some overweight 70-year-old with gout and high triglycerides, but a fairly hale young guy, sure. If his teeth start falling out you might offer him some citrus …

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen
                    escondido123 RE: Will Owen Aug 19, 2011 05:38 PM

                    But Will, there's prepared chicken and fish in the cool case, all sorts of whole grain breads, brown rice and lentils in pouches, and full selection of produce. I think that 70 year old could do just fine too.

                    1. re: escondido123
                      Will Owen RE: escondido123 Aug 19, 2011 06:49 PM

                      Well, he does do just fine, but he has to cook this stuff (ask me how I know!) . Some people, such as our Russian friend, do not consider actual cooking to be an option; this includes nuking something and adding it to something else you've nuked. This person wants to put one package into the microwave oven, hit the button, and get his dinner. Anything more complicated is too complicated.

                  2. f
                    FireFlyFiftyFive RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 04:30 PM

                    I will say yes. Is he getting the frozen microwave meals or the refrigerated microwave meals? I guess it doesn’t really matter.

                    One could get a prepared leafy salad to get that sort of thing. Most of them are miles ahead of anything a typical grocery store sells. They might be a little short on soups in the refrigerated area.

                    And snacks. Don’t get me started.

                    On a side note: every Thanksgiving I always proclaim you can have a wonderful (absolutely wonderful!) Thanksgiving with just TJ.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive
                      chocolatetartguy RE: FireFlyFiftyFive Aug 19, 2011 05:52 PM

                      Yes, he is getting the frozen microwave meals or the refrigerated microwave meals. Only prepared meals. Nothing involving separate ingredients. Aren't they basically glorified TV dinners? He is not the type to take advice on sports injuries, nutrition, or system design.

                      1. re: chocolatetartguy
                        oldunc RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 06:14 PM

                        He would do well to take some B complex supplements. And eat an orange.

                        1. re: chocolatetartguy
                          escondido123 RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 19, 2011 06:36 PM

                          If he's an adult, guess he gets to make his own decisions.

                      2. pamf RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 20, 2011 07:22 PM

                        Could you invite him over for a home cooked meal, or at least to a restaurant that you feel has good wholesome food?

                        I would guess that the guy is away from home, maybe under pressure to get a lot work done, maybe lacks cooking skills or maybe has budget considerations (any or all of the above). Then there are those "eat to live' types who just don't worry about food.

                        He could do worse than TJs fare.

                        1. j
                          jfprieur RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 20, 2011 07:25 PM

                          Sodium may become a problem....

                          1. t
                            tastesgoodwhatisit RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 20, 2011 07:41 PM

                            My guess would be that you can certainly live on microwaveable meals, but that it's probably not a healthy choice in the long term.

                            Based on my observations of young programers who practically live in the office, though, he's on the healthier end of that diet range. At least he's not living off of coke, instant noodles and potato chips.

                            1. g
                              givemecarbs RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 20, 2011 09:03 PM

                              How often does he play tennis chocolatetart guy? Does he get a really good workout a coupla times a week do you think? Might make a huge difference.

                              1. p
                                pine time RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 22, 2011 12:47 PM

                                I may be finding out real soon--most of the big chain grocery stores have voted to strike (again). TJs, here I come.

                                1. f
                                  fullyfunctional RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 22, 2011 03:12 PM

                                  Just logged in to give you lots of credit for the Bartleby the Scrivener reference. Seriously.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: fullyfunctional
                                    Emme RE: fullyfunctional Aug 23, 2011 06:33 PM

                                    i would prefer not to.

                                    to keep on topic, one *could* live on Trader Joe's if one varied selection... well actually, the question is really can one live *healthfully* on TJ's alone... some of the frozen and some of the fridge meals aren't unhealthy; some and some are. i gather however that he isn't getting salads and the "just chicken," and assembling balanced combos. as mentioned there are plenty of nutrient rich products, to name a few - the lentils, steel cut oats, salads, just chicken, egg white salads, baked eggplant parm, etc. of course, the mac'n'cheese, orange chicken, fettucini alfredo, chicken marsala, etc are high in fat, sodium, yadda yadda yadda...

                                    as an exercise in discussion, yes he *could.* however, are you asking for concern, or just out of sheer marvel?

                                    1. re: Emme
                                      escondido123 RE: Emme Aug 23, 2011 08:53 PM

                                      Virtually anything you can find in a regular supermarket you can find in TJs, except for Coke and a lot of other brand names. They have all different produce, meats, seafood, nuts, grains, baked goods, dairy, cheeses, tofu, vegan, wine, beer.... I truly can't imagine what you would want you can't find at Tjs as long as you aren't looking for brand names.

                                      1. re: escondido123
                                        srsone RE: escondido123 Aug 24, 2011 09:21 AM

                                        no coke??

                                        count me out of going to trader joes then....

                                        1. re: srsone
                                          escondido123 RE: srsone Aug 24, 2011 09:52 AM

                                          There selection of meats is too limited for me, but I stopped drinking Coke so that's not a problem. They do carry many kinds of soda in all sorts of interesting flavors, but not the standard national brands. My husband loves their root beer by Hansen's.

                                          1. re: escondido123
                                            srsone RE: escondido123 Aug 24, 2011 09:56 AM

                                            my root beer lately is Ibc

                                      2. re: Emme
                                        huiray RE: Emme Aug 24, 2011 04:23 PM

                                        "...one *could* live on Trader Joe's if one varied selection..."
                                        But I presume you would prefer not to.

                                        1. re: huiray
                                          Emme RE: huiray Aug 24, 2011 08:03 PM

                                          ,,,oh I prefer! Just pretty sure our OP's Scrivener-sky prefers not to.

                                    2. srsone RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 22, 2011 03:30 PM

                                      since there are no Trader joes anywhere near me ...
                                      i would starve.......

                                      1. pdxgastro RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 22, 2011 04:07 PM

                                        He's not hitting up fast food places for all his meals, which shows he's not American. So that's a plus. ;o)

                                        1. Ruth Lafler RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 23, 2011 10:13 AM

                                          Probably better than living on fast food, which is what a lot of people who don't (or won't) cook do.

                                          1. r
                                            Roland Parker RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 23, 2011 10:17 AM

                                            Your Russian friend sounds very .... Russian.

                                            The Russian diet is heavy on meats and starches with little fresh vegetables or fruit.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Roland Parker
                                              Isolda RE: Roland Parker Aug 24, 2011 02:23 PM

                                              My 14 year old son (American) can do a very good Russian accent. Think his veggie- and fruit-free diet has anything to do with it? ;)

                                            2. huiray RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 24, 2011 04:27 PM

                                              It never even crossed my mind to even think about being able to live on Trader Joe's alone.

                                              1. m
                                                MarkKS RE: chocolatetartguy Aug 24, 2011 08:15 PM

                                                TJ's has good stufff. So does WF. In the Bay Area, Andronicos has good stuff. Costco has some good stuff. Farmer's markets have good stuff. You just have to figure out what you need, and shop around. Growing your own stuff is good too.

                                                1. c
                                                  celesul RE: chocolatetartguy Sep 3, 2011 11:34 PM

                                                  It's quite possible to have a healthy and varied diet living only on food from TJs. I've done it for maybe a month, because I had gift cards, and not much money (college student). Is he eating the foods that lead to a balanced diet? Sounds like a no, although you can do far worse than TJs microwaved meals. Perhaps try to offer him fruit and vegetables, but he should probably be reasonably okay.

                                                  I will say that everything one would like is not necessarily at TJs. The most annoying item I couldn't get there was yeast. I asked someone who worked there, because I couldn't find it, where it could be. I was informed that yeast is a seasonal item. Bah. I was very annoyed.

                                                  1. f
                                                    Fromageball RE: chocolatetartguy Sep 4, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                    A lot of the microwave meals at Trader Joes seem to be of better quality than, say, Lean Cuisine or other brands. He may just eat them at work for convenience.

                                                    Aside from frozen meals, TJs also sells things like packets of rice or lentils that you can heat up in the microwave, or the packet Indian meals. So compared to a lot of grocery stores, the prepared foods seem to be a lot healthier.

                                                    Of course if he's just eating frozen mac & cheese all the time that's a different story.

                                                    1. PeterL RE: chocolatetartguy Sep 4, 2011 10:09 PM

                                                      TJ's sells fresh meat veggies and fruit. Just because he don't eat those don't mean TJ's are not healthy. At least I hope he don't drink 2 buck chuck, does he?

                                                      1. a
                                                        Alica RE: chocolatetartguy Sep 10, 2011 02:50 PM

                                                        We have a friend who rented a cottage near us and she invited us to the cottage for dinner. She had mentioned that she got some pizza already to serve that night. I love to cook and I love to entertain and I thought "She's serving us frozen pizza for dinner?" Anyway, everything she served was from Trader Joe's. Corn and some veggies which she grilled, some pizzas, I forget what else but at the end of the night I thought 'It was not that bad!"

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Alica
                                                          celesul RE: Alica Sep 10, 2011 04:48 PM

                                                          It's certainly much better than eating what a bad cook serves. Whenever we have friends come over, my mom tends to serve them that sort of stuff, because it's generally tastier and less work than her actually making something.

                                                          1. re: celesul
                                                            Alica RE: celesul Sep 11, 2011 07:06 AM

                                                            Another good point! She is someone who truly cares for her guests!

                                                          2. re: Alica
                                                            escondido123 RE: Alica Sep 10, 2011 06:25 PM

                                                            If you want to cook from scratch, TJs has most everything you would need--though they don't carry everything. But as far as fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, grain, dairy--they've got you covered.

                                                          3. RUK RE: chocolatetartguy Sep 11, 2011 06:50 AM

                                                            re Vitamin C - see above in this thread
                                                            I am reading this thread with amazement! I was attracted to Trader Joe's by the low price of Orange Juice, when due to raising Gas prices, every store in my region jacked up theirs to above 4 or 5 $ /half gallon, TJ sold it then for 1.99 $ and it is still the cheapest around now!
                                                            There are several Fruit and Vegetables isles. The stuff may not be to everyone's liking, but I would think it is impossible to avoid Vitamin C (and other Vitamins) when shopping at the Trader Joe's in my region.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: RUK
                                                              huiray RE: RUK Sep 11, 2011 12:58 PM

                                                              I don't think anyone here is saying that you can't get your dose of Vitamin C from eating only foodstuffs from Trader Joes.

                                                              The Vit C discussion above related to a poster's insistence that a normal (average?) human can do just fine and be completely healthy from eating only protein and fat (his words). I might note here that "protein" doesn't even necessarily mean "meat", let alone "muscle meat" like beef or "organ meat" like livers, let alone "stewed beef" or "stewed meats".

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