I was first drawn to the concept of "voting with your dollars" when reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan points out that making conscious decisions about the food you purchase is the best way to effect change in the food industry.
My Environmental Health professor recently reminded me of the power of this idea by pointing out that "our economic system responds almost instantly to changes in consumer spending patterns." It is often frustrating to watch politicians go back and forth on important issues while making no progress, which makes "voting with your dollars" such a powerful idea.
Shopping with this perspective requires a new sense of awareness and understanding that can sometimes test your commitment to a cause. Now that I am back in school and no longer have an income, I am often tempted to purchase non-organic produce, or stop shopping at Whole Foods to save money. However, I remind myself that my purchases are investments in my health and hopefully positive changes in our food system.