THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Voting with your food dollars is not enough!
Keywords:Food Dollars, Food Choices, Consumer Preferences, Corporate Profits, Food Advertising, Convenience Foods, Cheap Foods, Junk Foods, Invisible Hand
It is often suggested that we vote with our dollars if we want to change the food system. A dollar spent is a vote for whatever we buy and a dollar not spent is a vote against whatever we don’t buy. Consumers are led to believe that the current food system exists only because they have voted for it with their dollars. They are told to boycott foods, agribusinesses, and production systems that don’t align with their social or ethical values.
Those who have discretionary dollars to spend should vote with their dollars. Food producers respond to things that affect their bottom line. However, consumers haven’t gotten, and won’t get, the foods they need, or even want, by simply voting with their dollars. The “invisible hand” of economic theory just doesn’t work very well in today’s agri-food economy (Majaski, 2023). The current industrial food system doesn’t have the capacity to translate consumers’ food purchases into incentives for producers to provide the foods that consumers need or would even prefer. . . .
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