USDA Unveils New Plans to Control How We Shop

Even before they finish consolidating control of the healthcare industry, our nanny state overlords are taking the next logical step by moving in on food. First they got a large percentage of the population dependent on government funding to buy groceries through the food stamp program. Now they are using that leverage to tell us what to eat. If Hollyweird ever wants to make a comedic sequel to 1984 ridiculing soft tyranny, it could get some excellent ideas from the USDA:

The agency commissioned an “expert panel” to make recommendations on how to guide the more than 47 million Americans on food stamps into spending their benefits on fruits and vegetables. …

[One] idea included a point-based system where food stamp recipients could receive movie tickets in exchange for healthy food purchases. Grocery store staff could also be used as “ambassadors” for the USDA’s agenda.

“In this role, floor staff has the ability to re-direct consumer purchase towards more healthful choices by explaining the incentive or the nutrition labeling system,” the report said.

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It is unclear whether supermarkets will be compelled to hire people to tell you what the government wants you to eat, in which case they would pass along the cost via higher food prices, or whether these shopping advisors will be financed directly by the taxpayer.

The panel came up with six preferred strategies: discount coupons for SNAP recipients; rebates of up to $60 for healthy purchases on EBT cards; buy one get one free deals for SNAP recipients; a targeted marketing plan to promote healthy food; a USDA loyalty card; and new specialized shopping carts.

That is, the government will mandate that moochers get discounts on food they aren’t even paying for. All costs will be picked up by those of us old-fashioned enough to pull our own weight.

The idea of simply not allowing people to buy junk food with EBT cards was evidently too radical to entertain.

Regarding the specialized shopping carts,

The “MyCart grocery cart” would provide dividers for shoppers to make sure they are selecting enough items in each “MyPlate” category, the USDA’s food icon.

“MyCart is a nonfinancial approach that would use behavioral economics to encourage healthier purchases by any consumer, including SNAP participants,” the report said.

The cart would be color-coded, physically divided, and have a system installed so that when the shopping cart reaches its healthy “threshold” it would congratulate the customer.

As for the cost,

The report estimated that implementing the new carts would cost roughly $30,000 for every store. The change would be costly. For instance, Safeway, Inc. would need to spend $40.05 million to introduce the carts at its 1,335 stores in the U.S.

No worries; greedy capitalists have plenty of money.

They had better. Just coming up with these moronic suggestions cost the government $999,891. Since government only consumes and does not produce, the money has to come from somewhere.

Other strategies include compelling supermarkets to allocate certain amounts of shelf space to certain foods, to present foods the government wants us to eat more prominently, to create “healthy aisles,” et cetera.

Even the stocking of supermarket shelves is to be based on political considerations rather than what makes sense economically. No doubt special staff will be required to sort out all the federal recommendations.

When these recommendations fail to achieve gastronomic utopia, they will inevitably be replaced by dictates. Our continued failure to live up to the ideals of our rulers will eventually force the government to nationalize all food distribution, replacing the current supermarket cornucopias with the barren shelves of the Soviet Union.

But admittedly the Soviet Union didn’t have talking shopping carts.

The Bitter Half plans to “impact the nature of food in grocery stores.”

On tips from Artfldgr and G. Fox. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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