Food Choice in Bureautopia


Grocery Stores in Bureautopia

There was once a country called Bureautopia. Bureautopia, in its time, looked surprisingly similar to the United States. It had vast natural beauty and resources. It had varied regional cultures across its land. And it had a government that, for better or worse, tried to provision important resources like food to each citizen.

In fact, one of the few things Bureautopians agreed on was that a full belly was important, especially for the youth of Bureautopia. Quality nutrition gave young Bureautopians the energy and nourishment necessary for them to grow into responsible, productive citizens. This widespread agreement on this issue led Bureautopia to adopt a policy designed to make sure that every child in Bureautopia was provided with quality food. But Bureautopia’s food program wasn’t like any food assistance program here in the United States.

The United States previously provided food directly to needy families. Everyone has heard of the “government cheese” that came in those rations. Now, the United States issues funds to families that are earmarked for food through programs like SNAP and WIC. Recipients of those funds can take them to nearly any grocer and use them to feed their families.


Government Run Stores vs. Food Choice

Bureautopia, however, chose a different direction. The government of Bureautopia decided to set up government stores. Those government stores would be funded according to how many people they served and the people who needed them could shop there for food, receiving it for free up to a certain amount. The store you shopped at was determined by where you lived. You always went to your nearest store. You could not go to the store in the next town over. 

This has led to some issues for Bureautopians. Some of the youth in Bureautopia have special dietary needs. They may need to consume diets that are gluten-free, vegetarian, or low-sodium. But not all of Bureautopia’s government food stores stock these items. Those who need to consume these diets have to hope their local store carries what they need because they can’t go anywhere else.

Others say that the food provided in Bureautopia’s government food stores is lacking in quality compared to many of the private food stores that often serve the materially better-off Bureautopians. Many studies have confirmed this to be the case. They show that when lower-income children in Bureautopia are given stipends to spend at the private food stores, they end up healthier and better nourished than when restricted to the government stores in their neighborhood.

Even more people have qualms with how the government stores are funded. You see, it isn’t Bureautopia’s federal government setting the budgets for the local stores, though they do provide some funding for them. The local governments, called Boards of Nutrition, collect taxes from the local economy that significantly affect the final funding figures for the local stores. Naturally, this means the government stores in wealthy areas carry abundant goods in sleek, modern facilities. However, the stores in poorer areas  have scarce supply and less-than-stellar buildings. 

The Food Choice Movement

Recently, a “food choice” movement has begun in Bureautopia. Its proponents say that families should be able to spend their food funds where they please. They could take their funds and use them at any other government store or go to one of the private stores for their food needs. That way, good stores will receive more funding and bad stores will lose customers. 

The opponents of food choice say that this cannot happen. If this happens, the better private stores could outcompete the government stores. They might lose some of the funding allotted to them. They say that families should still use the government stores even if it negatively affects the children. Some even take issue with what the private stores offer and say that families shouldn’t spend government food funds at vegetarian stores. They claim that the needy will go without food if everyone has the choice of where to buy their food because government stores will go out of business.

The food choice movement is slowly but surely gaining ground in Bureautopia. More and more people there are getting to experience alternative options for their grocery shopping needs and are reaping the benefits. What side would you pick if you were a Bureautopian? If you picked the “Food Choice” side, I agree with you. I would also like to introduce you to the same movement currently advocating for choice in American education, the “School Choice” movement.


Jacob McCoy is a Contributor to the Cardinal’s Nest Blog.

Read more about education freedom and the “School Choice” movement here.


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