Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Greens Tags

[press release]

Washington -- A coalition of giant supermarket chains and token small grocers, along with a nutritionist from a supermarkets-funded program at an otherwise little known academic institution, hailed the bipartisan agreement today by the state's legislature and governor to establish the marketing of grocers greens tags.

"A lot of overpaid lobbyists have billed for a lot of hours to make this bill a reality," a spokesman for one supermarket chain is imagined to have said. "It is crucial to our efforts to improve the diets of Americans."

Background

In the past, the effort to introduce leafy greens into diets has been stymied by the extra expense of a product that shrinks substantially when cooked, thus requiring so much more to supply a satisfying meal. A cycle of reluctance to buy enough and consequent disappointment with the shrunken result prevented the movement of greens from grocers' shelves at an adequate rate to remain profitable.

That all changed in the mid-1990s when Enron expanded into the wholesale grocery business. The company's "whiz-kid" accountants perceived that there were two parts in the cost of leafy greens. As food, their cost was comparable to other, more popular, items. The extra cost was for the nutritional attributes. Enron convinced the state of California to require grocers to sell a certain percentage of "healthy" foods, particularly leafy greens which could be quickly grown.

The "greens obligations" were calculated from the purchase of the extra-cost nutritional attributes, as represented by "grocers greens tags," accounted separately from the regular food part of the greens. Grocers greens tags are "grown" at the same time as the food itself, and thus the grocer could buy the greens both as food and as a benefit to the diet.

But what if a grocer's wholesaler did not have enough greens to sell? Since some grocers had more than enough greens to meet their greens obligations, they were allowed to sell, or to allow their wholesaler to sell, the excess greens tags to others. This very effectively promoted the growth of greens by creating a profitable market for their nutritional attributes apart from their value as food. This market also allowed grocers to meet their greens obligations, if not to their own customers then by helping to defray the costs of better nutrition for the customers of other grocers.

Today

The use of grocers greens tags is now commonplace, with brokers springing up across the country and many companies buying them for their cafeterias and vending machines. Even individuals can buy them to "offset" their bad diets. Today's announcement brings the total number of states that have established a greens tags system for a healthier America to 17.

"We can all eat better, even if we don't," an executive of one of the coalition's grocery chains is said to have said.

"It's the market at work -- everyone wins," an analyst from a bloated Wall Street investment company that happens to have substantial investments in the giant grocery business added. "With grocers greens tags, combined with greens obligations standards, venture capitalists are very excited by the lower risk and much larger returns."

The coalition also recognized the untiring efforts of many public interest groups such as Greens Pease International and the state's Public Interest Group.

A statement from Greens Pease in praise of the new bill echoed the business interests: "We can have our greens and eat them, too -- or not and say we did."

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