Media watch: No longer ‘Traitor’ Joe?


April Forristall, assistant editor

Published on
April 20, 2010

Trader Joe’s announcement late last month that it will sell only sustainable seafood by 2012 garnered its fair share of mainstream media attention.

The majority of news outlets credited Greenpeace with getting the U.S. retailer, which operates 339 stores nationwide, to enact the policy.

Last year, Greenpeace activists demonstrated outside several Trader Joe’s stores after the chain ranked 17th out of 20 in its report scrutinizing U.S. retailers’ sustainable seafood purchasing policies. Greenpeace also launched a Web site,, featuring a cartoon pirate named Traitor Joe who urged Trader Joe’s to stop selling species it claims are caught or farmed in an environmentally harmful manner. ran the headline “Trader Joe’s to adopt sustainable seafood policy after Greenpeace campaign,” and claimed Trader Joe’s “bowed to pressure” from the environmental group.

Only a few outlets, like, left Greenpeace out of its story about Trader Joe’s and simply focused on the details, while praising the move.

However, not all media outlets reported on Trader Joe’s pledge with enthusiasm. writer Sarah Gilbert questioned if the move will make a difference: “Is this latest move, like those others, a harbinger of change that will soon creep into mainstream American and European grocery stores? Or is it, as some have suggested, a last desperate cry to heal an industry that is fast using up all its resources?”

In addition to Trader Joe’s, there was also a smattering of seafood-related health news in the mainstream press. A new study, reported on by various health Web sites, showed that eating seafood can help with male fertility programs.

The New York Times ran a cooking feature on how to “reel in the benefits of fish.”

TopNews’ U.S. Web site was one of a few media outlets that ran coverage of a study that eating fish may prevent bowel cancer, and Nebraska’s York News Times ran a story on how good nutrition, including eating seafood, can reduce stress.

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