Big Brother is Watching What You Eat… And Encouraging You Through a Talking Grocery Cart?

With the claimed interest in making sure we eat allegedly “sustainable” food, you would think that these food dictators would want to make sure that they used economical means to promote good food. But you would be wrong if you thought that.

Instead, our food masters want to make us vegetarians through extravagant technological innovations.

The concept is bizarre since it is being widely acknowledged that people resent and resist attempts to dictate to them what they should eat. Even children resent it. Adults resent it much more.

According to the Free Beacon,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is suggesting major changes to grocery stores to “nudge” Americans to purchase healthier foods when they shop.

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.

The group released an 80-page report this month presenting their ideas, which include talking shopping carts and a marketing strategy for grocery chains that would feature better store lighting for healthier items.

“Most Americans, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, do not purchase enough whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and legumes, and purchase too many items with excess calories from fats and added sugars,” the report said.

“At the same time, the food retail environment is saturated with food marketing messages, including health and nutrition claims and information, advertisements, and promotions for many unhealthy food items,” it said.

For the record, I am skeptical that the USDA knows what it is talking about when it says we need to get more whole grains or legumes, or when it complains about how many calories come from fat. But whether or not I am right, blaming food choices on “advertisements and promotions” is simply false. We already know that food companies use sugar because consumers want it. I wish they didn’t, but they do.

But having the simplistic notion that food companies simply control consumers, the USDA then justifies the idea that they can control consumers.

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.

“The algorithm would group the purchases to classify them using the MyPlate designations and to provide consumers with a message of support or encouragement (e.g., “You achieved a MyCart healthy shopping basket!”),” the report said.

The panel based this approach on a $999,891 government-funded study entitled “Nudging Nutrition,” arguing the research “suggests an intervention of this sort might be successful in modifying consumer shopping behavior.”

So despite the claims of Michelle Obama that women shopping for their families need better information, the truth is that they simply need to be manipulated by bells and whistles.

And how much is this going to cost?

“To accompany the approach, a MyCart shelf tag could be created to identify healthier items on shelves,” the report said. “Consumers could be guided to healthier choices through the use of visual displays and other signage, including ceiling banners, refrigerator and freezer door clings, and shelf talkers.”

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.

How exactly is that a sustainable way to grocery shop? This seems more like a stimulus project than anything else. We are supposed to spend millions of dollars to invest in technology that probably won’t work.