What we eat and what we buy affects our health, environment, and economy. When the economy turns bad or we lose a war, we throw out the president, but when an obesity epidemic grows to as high as 30 percent in children we make little noise at the political level. Instead it is left up to our elected officials to implement the changes we desire. Michelle Obama has recently thrown her clout behind the healthy food movement by encouraging Americans to cook at home more. In addition to cutting back on processed food and reading food labels, the First Lady is advising Americans to throw out those “sugary sodas,” and has even planted a vegetable garden at the White House.

Voting with your shopping cart can have as much impact as voting for your elected officials. Vote for your right to healthy food choices on grocery shelves by shopping consciously. Every time you check out at the grocery store you are telling the stores what you want more or less of in the store. Grocery stores stock their shelves based on consumer demand so theoretically you can vote every day. Here are five simple ways to “vote” with your shopping cart:

1. Support your local farmers and help put an end to global warming by buying local. At the Copenhagen Climate Summit, small farmers came from “hamlets and villages” from the four corners of the globe to remind us that produce trucked across the country into your grocery store is contributing to global warming due to the large amount of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful pollutants released into the air. According to these family farmers, “industrial agriculture and the globalized food system are responsible for between 44 and 57 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.”

2. Buy organic produce. In contrast to conventionally grown produce that is full of toxins which are detrimental to your health, organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use of harmful pesticides or toxic fertilizers. Eating organic reduces your exposure to these hazardous chemicals.

3. No dairy products: Cow’s milk is full of growth hormones and antibiotics that can lead to conditions ranging from the common cold to cancer. Try substitutes for milk such as hemp milk, almond milk or rice milk. By doing so, your grocery store will realize that it can actually profit by making these products more readily available.

4. Boycott sodas: Sometimes it is what you choose not to buy that counts. A recent study conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) has finally officially made the connection between soda consumption and obesity. Funded by the California Endowment, the study found that adults who consumed one or more sodas per day were 27 percent more likely to become overweight than those who do not consume soda.

5. Don’t buy anything with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This popular sugar substitute is linked to diabetes, obesity, liver problems and a whole host of other problems. While fructose is a natural sugar, when we combine it with glucose, we not only create table sugar but we also may be creating a molecular monster. Unlike table sugar, foods high in HFCS have very high levels of reactive carbonyls which can cause tissue damage and diabetes according to Rutgers University researcher Chi-Tang Ho.

Every trip to the grocery store is a vote – Make it count. Show our leaders that we demand policies that promote access to healthy food by voting with your shopping cart. Chances are even Michelle will be showing Barack the White House door if he does not provide Americans with healthier food choices.

Allison Biggar is a writer/filmmaker and owner of Holistic Voice- Your online guide to living a natural, organic and healthy life. On our site you will find a wealth of resources on how you can heal yourself of any disease. Please visit http://www.holisticvoice.org.

To download the new book,”The Vitality Diet,” on health, wellness and weight-loss please visit http://www.thenaturalchick.com!