Food Not Bombs is an organization devoted to developing positive personal, political, and economic alternatives. Revolutionaries are often depicted as working to overthrow the government by any means necessary. Food Not Bombs groups in general do not have the time or resources to attack, tear down, and overthrow the existing death culture. However, not spending our time trying to overthrow the existing power structure does not mean never struggling with it. By simply exerting our basic rights to free speech and association, we challenge the power elite, and they will try to stop us from focusing on what needs to be done. We want to create new alternatives and life-affirming structures from the ground up. We want to replace the culture of death with a culture of "Plumbers Not Bombs," "Day-care Not Bombs," and "Health Care Not Bombs."
Food Not Bombs responds to poverty and the lack of self-esteem in two ways. First, we provide food in an open, respectful way to whomever wants it. We will not make people jump through any bureaucratic hoops designed to control, humiliate, and often punish the people who are poor. Second, we invite people who receive food to become involved in providing that food. This provides an opportunity for them to regain their power and recognize their ability to contribute and make a change.
The idea of food recovery or food "recycling," is not new. Individuals have been "dumpster diving" to find meals for a long time; however, store owners often poison or lock dumpsters to discourage this practice. Similarly, environmentalists have long advocated composting, but this has not yet been practiced on a large scale. Therefore, it is a radical political act in today's society to recover large amounts of food in an organized and consistent manner and to feed the hungry the edible part.
Although Food Not Bombs does not have a strict political platform, there
is a general political philosophy with which it has become identified over
the years. The core of this philosophy is that each local group is autonomous.
Every individual and group chooses its own values and politics. This chapter
presents some of this philosophy from the authors' own perspective.
Just like many people today, we are concerned about the direction in
which the world is heading. Domination, violence, and seem to be the predominant
choices of our society. This is what we call the "death culture." Acceptance
of war, nuclear annihilation, environmental destruction and genocide are
widespread, and are the foundation of the power elite's "New World Order."
More than ever, the death culture is pushing the idea that it is necessary
for young people to join the army and kill to have peace. Peace through
threat of war is impossible, because using the threat of destruction as
a way to prevent war is nothing but domination. Few voices, however, say
there is an alternative to domination and violence. Our society places
very little value on working for peace, and there is little opportunity
to learn about nonviolent conflict resolution, war tax resistance, or creating
a life-affirming culture.