Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sweet irony, presented by Wal-Mart and the U.S. Congress

Wal-Mart recently unveiled both a solution and a problem wrapped in one neatly bio-engineered package: the Sweet Spark cantaloupe. This latest produce entry symbolizes so much of what is perilous for those without means or say in this nation today.
Even by the company’s admission, historically, winter cantaloupe in its U.S. stores tastes terrible. Perhaps it never struck anyone that may be because it's winter cantaloupe. Cantaloupes here are summer fruit, as nature intended it. Generally speaking, anything grown outside its designated season will taste terrible. Wal-Mart had other ideas.

As the world’s largest retailer – and sizable grocery chain, too – it has proudly produced a franken-fruit that is up to 40 percent sweeter than its previous cantaloupe varieties. Even Amazon Fresh hasn’t stretched that far, yet.

While U.S. society is promoting greater consumption of fruits and vegetables to help ward off ailments such as type 2 diabetes, Wal-Mart introduces a “natural” product that may help spike such diagnoses. Normal cantaloupe already outpaces other melons in sugar content; with this new confection, the unwitting could face some serious issues. Fruit as a gateway drug.

Maybe that’s a built-in incentive. Wal-Mart may yet catapult past Walgreens and CVS to finally become the nation’s biggest pharmacy chain, too.  After all, diabetes drug and treatment sales are soaring.

A disproportionate share of those with the disease are working class people struggling to make it. Coincidentally, so is Wal-Mart’s clientele. Funny how that works out.

But those shoppers  likely will be joined by a new ones soon, courtesy of a GOP-dominated Congress that continues to look at how to trample the protections of the Affordable Care Act. Particularly troubling is their tinkering with provisions that may force people with pre-existing conditions to pay even more for healthcare. While the current U.S. president is trying to duck the atrocity produced by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate is speeding ahead with the American Health Care Act.  That’s even as many senators, Republicans included, don’t know what’s in the bill or how much it will cost. New legislation regulating costs for pre-existing conditions and more could pass before the summer recess.

Conservatives contend the hoo-ha about pre-existing conditions is overblown, that only a “fraction of a fraction” of the population will be impacted. The Kaiser Family Foundation tallies say it’s more like 1 in 4 Americans who bear that designation, as defined in the pre-ACA/Obamacare days. But let’s not quibble over mere numbers or lives.

With jacked up insurance rates on the horizon, people with acne or arthritis, fibromyalgia or female body parts, or any of a host of other “pre-existing conditions” soon may be swapping runs to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for those to Wal-Mart.

And since their health status already would have wrecked their insurance rates, picking up some type 2 diabetes-encouraging fruit while browsing beneath that big yellow smiley face could just add to the joy. 

Would you like that in paper or plastic, ma’am?

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