5 Reasons Sharing Food is Political

Wednesday, 27th May 2009 at 8:00 UTC Leave a comment

This post is in part a more considered response to an argument that sprung from a request to borrow a table for Food Not Bombs York, a new group rooted in the tradition of Food Not Bombs (see also Wikipedia), a tactic-movement with over 25 years of history and groups from San Francisco to St Petersburg.

  1. It builds community – In a world where community is heavily under attack, and where spending time talking with people for reasons other than commerce or service is so rare, and in a world where anything proclaimed as free is likely to be viewed as anything but, standing on a street or in a park and giving out free food is bound to make people very much nervous, action to destroy the boundaries between people is long over due.
    We can build new community in our towns, but it has to start somewhere. When we eat together, we build the friendships and connectedness that prevents us from believing the “everyone an island” attitude we being taught endlessly.
  2. It can bring us into contact with other people – and thus make them less other than they were to start with. Doing Food not Bombs we’ve already met a couple of people in town who we’ll hopefully continue to get to know over time, but who we’d never have made that initial contact with.
    Unlike a petitions-info-stall, conversations tend to be fewer, but more intense and contain more capacity to hear people’s own points-of-view, rather than just to convey a message. As such I think sharing food can lead into a listening exercise, which could in turn lead into awareness and further campaigns. Might be wishful thinking, but you never know.
  3. Its less wasteful of ingredients – when we make food to share, we make more of it, leaving less half-used bags, boxes and bottles to go off before we get around the using them again. And out of 50 people, someone will want seconds! By living in larger communities, and cooking communally, we could save a lot on cooking-fuel and ingredients. Indeed, we could save on heating our homes as well.
  4. Its more energy efficient – heating a pan to cook one bowl of pasta isn’t as efficient as boiling one pan to cook two bowls, but factor in 10 pans for 10 people in 10 separate homes and we get a big improvement. Its also more efficient on our own energies, and can encourage us to step out of the ready-meal-for-one mentality that feeds us huge volumes of crap.
  5. It reminds us of our own capacity to make a difference – Do-It-Yourself politics aren’t exactly popular these days. Everyone wants to tell governments what to do, reinforcing our lack of power in the face of any and every issue. But we can change many things, and we can certainly challenge the prevailing narratives of our day. Both realities and opinions are vulnerable to our interventions.

The title of this post might be familiar to long time readers of this blog. On the 3rd September 2007 I wrote a blog post entitled “5 Reasons Real Ale is Political” and it remains in my top 15 posts of all time.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Community, Culture, Food, Materialism, Sustainability.

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