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Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry and Build Community.

"Vegetarians, peaceniks, community organizers who want to |outpoor' the poor -- this book, Food Not Bombs," I thought, "is not going to sell in the Central District."

I paged through the book, stopping at each picture. "Eight dark-skinned people in those pictures," I muttered -- a black male marching in one, five frightened Vietnamese children running from the horrors of war in another, two black policemen on guard at a Food Not Bombs table in a third. "That's how we are pictured," I thought, "marching as victims, or gatekeepers, of the status quo."

"People of color pour out their blood every day for family, church and country," I grumbled. "But do we ever get credit? Never."

I was about to put away the book when I came to the chapter with recipes: "A cookbook, too," I muttered. "Give me Julia Child." Then I read some of the recipes and stopped. "With these recipes you can feen hundreds of people nourishing, tasty meals from food that is being thrown away," I said to myself. "It's practical; it will work."

I decided to go back to the beginning of the book and read it carefully. I found its vision, method of attending to group development and approach to social change realistic and enlightening.

Authors C.T. Lawrence Butler and Keith McHenry recognize that violence at home and abroad are connected: "In our society, it is acceptable to profit from others' suffering and misery."

They point out that corporate control of food in the United States keeps the poor from having access to food and weakens the quality of food available to all: "Our society's current meat-based diet allows for huge |agribusinesses' and dependency on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, resulting in declining nutritional value of the food produced and also destruction of the environment."

They state that our current international policies require that we use force to control the production and distribution of goods and services abroad. We have no say in the way goods are produced or distributed. Top-down control of production and jobs supports control of job security, keeps wages low, leads to the development of an underclass and, thus, "encourages domination and violence."

One of the Food Not Bombs collectives responds to human exploitation by its commitment to the growth of its own members. Each member is encouraged to participate in decision-making, initiate action and take responsibility, in varying ways, for the life of the group.

Consensus is the method of decision-making. Members are encouraged and trained to exercise leadership. Many organizations to which I belonged failed to grow because their leadership did not cultivate the ideal of shared objectives, and goals did not change with the times and programming became repetitive and unimaginative.

Food Not Bombs describes a program of self-renewal in which "individuals feel more satisfied and, therefore, less likely to burn out of fade away."

I especially appreciated the collectives' commitments to supporting other groups by getting usable excess food from businesses and getting it to food banks or shelters for the homeless. They also cook and give away food and rallies sponsored by other groups or at events that highlight their own concerns. They raise others' awareness and address their particular concern: providing healthy sustenance for the homeless and hungry.

Vegetarians? Peaceniks? Perhaps. But also clear-thinking, compassionate people with suggestions for change I found most helpful. I am glad I read the book.



Makes: 100 sandwiches

Equipment: 20-qt or larger pot

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour or more
 2 heads garlic, diced 12 to 15 any rood
 8 to 12 onions, chopped vegetable (carrots,
 1/2 cup safflower oil potatoes, dikon, etc.)
 1 TBSP thyme 2 bunches any
 2 tsp cayenne green leafy vegetable
 2 TBSP sea salt (collards, kale, spinach,
 2 TBSP black pepper etc.)
 3 to 4 cans tomatoes, 2 cabbages
 or 20 to 30 fresh or 6 eggplants
 tomatoes, chopped 100 sandwich rolls

5 to 6 any squash

(zucchini, summer,

winter, etc.)

Saute the chopped garlic and onions in the oil over medium-high heat in a 20 qt or larger pot until the onions become clear. Add spices, then all the chopped vegetables and either fresh or canned tomatoes. (If you do not have any tomatoes, add a little water to start the vegetables cooking). Stir often to prevent sticking. Once the liquid in the bottom starts to boil, lower heat to medium low. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is thick like stew, usually about 1 hour, but simmering longer enhances the taste. Adjust seasonings, especially salt, pepper, and cayenne. Serve on a sandwich roll, or over b read or brown rice on a plate. We call this a trident sub because it is spicy "hot!"

Jesuit Father Joseph McGowan, a sacramental minister at St. Therese in Seattle, is an intern at the Virginia Mason Chemical Dependency Clinic.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Catholic Reporter
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:McGowan, Joseph
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 19, 1993
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