Administration
Debuts Grocery Initiative

The Obama
administration announced yesterday a series of sweeping regulations intended to
improve the bottom lines of grocery stores and ensure the health of all
Americans. The reforms are also widely
expected to reduce the environmental impact of grocery stores and enhance multicultural
awareness.

In
the wake of last year’s bailout and nationalization of major grocery chains, the
federal government, under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration, has
capitalized on the opportunity to overhaul the delivery of foodstuffs to the
American people and to integrate shopping with health care, environmental
stewardship, and the celebration of diversity.
The administration unveiled the comprehensive reform package in a
ceremony attended by a select group of approved media representatives.

The
pilot store, a former Safeway in the nation’s capital, is now named
GreenGro. One of the first changes
visitors will notice is the lack of unsightly shopping carts scattered in the
parking lot. Instead, the new "Smart
Carts" stay in the store. They run on
tracks throughout the store in a set pattern and at a uniform speed.

When
the shopper enters the store, she waits for the next available cart to come by
on the track. She then "adopts" the cart
by swiping his Universal Care Card in the onboard reader. The UCC will track purchases, and the cart’s
onboard computer will offer friendly prompts and advice about the shopper’s
eating habits.

As
the cart automatically wends its way along the track, the shopper may browse
the aisles at leisure, keeping track of the cart by means of its numbered
flag. "No need to push the cart, and no
more traffic jams in grocery store aisles since these carts are always moving,"
enthused the pilot project manager, Steve Gustafson, Deputy Director of Grocery
Store Enhancements for the FDA.

A study conducted by the non-partisan Spew Research
Center determined that the average shopper pushes his or her cart through the store
at a speed of .3 miles per hour, so that is the speed of the Smart Carts. After further study, the speed may be
adjusted to account for variations in local averages. For example, a store located in a
neighborhood with an overall younger clientele may apply to the FDA for a
feasibility study. "If the feasibility
study demonstrates the utility of a deviation from the national average, then
the change certainly will be given serious consideration at the highest levels,"
explained Mr. Gustafson. "But no
promises," he added.

A
new division of the FDA will be developed to weigh such decisions. But the decisions won’t be made in the dark
since the UCC will store and sort data about individuals’ — and the nation’s
— shopping habits, eventually enabling the federal government to regulate the
purchase of suspect foods such as eggs, cheese, red meat, and soft drinks. For example, the purchase of beef products
will be limited to a certain amount per month per person, and that amount will
diminish over time with the goal of encouraging all Americans to adopt a
vegetarian diet.

"We’re
still working out the details. But such
standards would improve public health, and even more importantly, the
environment," explained Gustafson. "All
those cows won’t be eating grain and emitting greenhouse gases in feedlots," he
said. Since participation in the
National Health Insurance program is conditioned on each insured’s best efforts
to maintain good health, the FDA could adopt regulations to enforce these
rationing efforts without the necessity of congressional action, thus saving
even more hot air.

Another
environmental advantage of GreenGro will be the elimination of disposable
grocery bags. Each shopper will be
supplied with two re-usable canvas bags at no charge. "Think of the landfill space and tons of
carbon output that will be saved in just the first year," Gustafson commented
as he also applauded the jobs that would be created by the increased demand for
canvas bags. "This will really please
the Chinese," he noted. Asked about the
increased risk of food-poisoning deaths from the use of canvas bags, Gustafson
changed the subject.

GreenGro
will sell compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) exclusively, even though the
nationwide phase-out of incandescent bulbs will not be completed for several
more years. "Why wait? If people don’t have enough sense to choose
CFLs, we won’t give them a choice," Gustafson said, wagging his head in
amusement.

As
for CFL disposal, "We’re still working on that," said Gustafson, dismissing as
"hysterical" the concerns about mercury content. "The six-step cleanup procedure in the event
of a broken bulb is actually quite simple, and hazardous waste sites nationwide
already accept CFLs under certain guidelines and at certain times. It’s really very convenient," he added.

GreenGro
will also feature exclusively halal meats, which will obviously afford the FDA
diversity bragging rights. "Pork isn’t
practical anyway. Muslims won’t handle
it, and meat packers can’t refuse to hire them.
So it’s easier to just stop selling it.
Besides, it’s not good for you," said Gustafson.

Stocking
halal meats will also reduce unemployment among the burgeoning influx of
immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, at least until meat consumption is
outlawed. "It’s only halal if it’s
butchered by an imam, so that segment of the population will have job security,
even if no one else outside the government sector does," Gustafson explained.

All
in all, GreenGro is a beacon of hope and change for the future of our
nation. Better health, better
environment, better diversity. Bon
appetit!

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