Food Not Bombs: Taking Control of Our Rights



Food Not Bombs is a movement dedicated to promoting peace and community building through the sharing of our most basic good: food. The group was started in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists. It has now spread to more than a hundred independent charters based in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. If you want to know more about the history of the group click here.

The Food Not Bombs effort in the Pioneer Valley has been happening in Amherst and Northampton for some time. From the various occasions I have eaten with the group I have noticed trends that are both amusing and telling of a culture unaccustomed to friendly invitations from strangers. “Free food!” Someone will say to the passer-by who looks up briefly in a state of shock that very quickly turns into indifference. Sometimes people will offer a bemused smile and comment on the curious things on the table. “What is that? Stew?” As if it were a rarity. A thing  tainted by being on the street, a thing offered for free (disgusting) by both young and old people who just want whoever is hungry to sit and have a meal.

I should mention that all the ingredients used come from vendors who give away perfectly good food that fails to meet a protocol. What protocol are we talking about really? I would deem it the protocol of planned obsolescence, a term coined in the post World War II reconstruction era. It is “instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary”. In terms of produce, it is the art of pushing expiration dates a little sooner than necessary, in order for vendors to have to keep buying in higher quantities and forcing them to throw out much of the food they buy.

The people who do sit, like I have in several occasions, get to enjoy delicious home vegetarian cooked meals and get the chance to share conversation with a diverse group of people. It never fails to be uplifting and better yet, it is a reminder of what basic community forming is in the simplest way.


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