Who Are Your Food Dollars Supporting? It's Time to Think Twice Before Spending

By Nancy Smorch

I’m sure you are all too familiar with how the lobbyist scene works in Washington D.C. And, I’m sure you have heard more than your fair share of stories about how monetary contributions have been known to persuade peoples’ behavior, decisions, and actions. Hearing these things leaves me feeling amazed (although it shouldn’t), frustrated, and, especially, powerless. How can the average citizen compete with that kind of money and power?

I have heard people say that every food dollar spent is either supporting organic farming and organic practices, or conventional or factory farming. That was kind of an obvious statement for me. It’s a for-or-against situation.

But, for some reason, the other day as I was driving to Flint (often, this is my thinking time - 2 1/2 hours without distractions is the perfect time to ponder), I was thinking a lot more about that statement.

I chewed on it for quite some time (pun intended).

That statement is true on multiple levels. We, the consumers, may not be able to vote directly to have genetically modified food labeled. We can’t directly vote to make inhumane factory farming illegal (and in some states, citizens can’t even legally expose the conditions of these farms, thanks to the Ag-Gag laws). We can’t vote to ban the planting and harvesting of genetically modified seeds, or to reduce the amounts of pesticides and herbicides sprayed on our food.

But here’s what we CAN do:

Money talks for the big farms, for the politicians, and for the processed food companies. And, of course, money talks for the rest of us too.

BUT our actions speak even more!

So, refuse to eat meat that isn’t hormone and antibiotic free and grass fed.

Refuse to eat eggs that aren’t cage free, organic and from free-roaming chickens.

Make sure the milk you buy is organic – or, at least, not from factory farms that fill their cows (and you) with hormones and antibiotics. Yes, I will give you this - organic milk is more expensive than regular milk, but do we really need to be drinking that much milk in the first place?

In restaurants, refuse to eat meat that isn’t hormone and antibiotic free. Yes, this will limit your options (depending on which restaurants you choose), but given the choice of poisoning your body and supporting factory farms, or foregoing the meat and trying something else - opt for experimentation with the latter rather than your health.

Ask if the fruits and vegetables you’re buying at the grocery store or the farmer’s market are genetically modified. If they can’t tell you, then refuse to buy it. Support those that are taking the time to know and grow organic, heirloom, or non-GMO foods. As young Birke Baehr says, think about food, and where it comes from. No more mindless consumption!

I could go on and on, but you get my point.

After thinking about how far we can really take it, I started to feel more and more empowered. Ultimately, the power really is in the hands of the people. We have the power to choose. We have the power to decide how we spend our money, and to whom we give it.

We can say no to food that isn’t in our best interest.

And eventually, the companies and farmers will start listening. Because, again, money talks. If we aren’t buying their products, they will stop producing them.

Every purchase you make is a “vote,” which supports whichever company or farmer is behind that product you buy.

Do you say you can’t stand the thought of chickens being cooped up all day and night in cramped, unsanitary conditions, yet spend your hard-earned money supporting those very practices you claim shock you by buying regular eggs?

And here again, yes… organic free range eggs are more expensive, but maybe you need to shift your spending. Maybe buy the organic eggs one day, and forgo the deli meats that are processed and contain fillers and additives and are produced from factory farm animals.

And $2-4 for a dozen organic eggs isn’t all that much when you look at all you can do with a dozen eggs. Compared to $4 for a latte, or $4 for a couple of bags of chips, which are over in one or a few sittings. Make your food last, and make it an important part of your life.

We have all worked hard for our money (could this be another title to a song?). Like it or not, we still live in a society where money does talk.

So, understand that, and think twice about what you spend your money on, and what that says about your beliefs and principles.

Take your power back - the power you have been led to believe you lost. You never lost it. It’s just a different kind of power now.