Yesterday I helped out for the first time with a Food not Bombs cooking day. The principle is simple: take thrown out food from a dumpster, cook it, and serve it to people who are hungry. This means the ingredients you start with are essentially randomized – and it’s up to you to use them and whatever other ingredients you’ve been able to stash from previous dumpstering to make food that people will actually want to eat.
It’s not actually that difficult. We made a vegetable stew, two large fruitbreads, baked apples, and sauteed greens with dandylions.
What I liked most about FNB is how friendly the people were – it’s kind of an odd volunteer group, every week a lot of the people who come are first timers, which means it can be pretty inclusive as opposed to volunteer organizations with longstanding tight memberships. Of course, there are downsides to this as well – relative chaos (although it really wasn’t bad yesterday), and heavy dependence on the few people who know what’s going on.
Also, no one asked each other “What do you do?” – i.e. “define yourself!”. People talked about things they were doing, but not in a way that excluded others. For example, people talked about the ABC letter writing night they were also cooking for and going to later, but this was open – anyone could come, and I actually did.
The organization (if you can really call it that) doesn’t seem to have one strong coherent “politics”, but just a lot of friendly people who are politicized. I suppose you could say that FNB is anarchist, anti-poverty and vegan, but no one came over the top with their food politics, and to be honest, there wasn’t that much political discussion anyway.
I think I will go back to Food not Bombs – it’s an easy and friendly way to pass a Sunday morning. And, it seems like a useful way to meet others involved in different anarchist and vegan groups operating in your locality. If one exists in your city (and it probably does), it might also be worth your time to check it out and decide if unstructured cooking with strangers is right for you!