Interview with Food Not Bombs Member

I interviewed an 18-year-old activist involved with Food Not Bombs, as well as Black & Pink and a few other groups. (They have asked me not to disclose their name, although they did consent on tape to the interview.)

Their work at Food Not Bombs involves cooking and sharing vegan food with the broader community. As a whole, Food Not Bombs is a self-organized (anarchist) chapter “dedicated to nonviolent social change.”

That Saturday, they had a table setup in Central Square like this, with a giant canvas banner that said: “ALL WAR IS CLASS WAR” in black paint. In front of it, they had written messages in colored chalk in different languages; for example, an Arabic: “Down with the regime!” In Spanish, “No human being is illegal.”

I spent the afternoon hanging out before the interview. It was a really helpful way for me to understand their work, hands-on. We distributed root veggies, rice stew, feminine hygiene products, bagels, & vitamins. I observed as my interviewee distributed info-pamphlets, explained FnB, and really, genuinely listened to every single person who spoke to them—including someone spreading the word of Jesus Christ, and one guy who kept coming back to tell us about his injured knee.

My interviewee told me about an initial push towards activism in high school, when a few of their friends were attacked and otherwise harassed by the police. My interviewee is passionate about protests, marches, and forms of expressions that resist police force. For example, solidarity through masks and clothing, that protect you from being identified, especially within a larger group.

We also chatted about food as a medium. (They didn’t say this outright, but I noticed its connection to previous comments.) Giving away food to the public, without a special permit, is illegal in some places. People in national Food Not Bombs chapters have been arrested for their work. This was interesting to me because I always viewed their food as a media for healing and spreading a message; now I know that they also perceive it as an act of defiance against an oppressor.

Cambridge Food Not Bombs’ meals are also entirely vegan; my interviewee is trying to be fully vegan themselves. They helped me understand the way vegan food philosophically aims to create a peaceful and equitable world. I really appreciated the way they attended to social change intersectionally, never just talking about one given “-ism” as its own individual battle.

Because of schedule changes, our interview was kind of compromised—at 15 minutes and shoddy sound quality! Still, I’m really grateful the opportunity to speak with them, and found some connections between what we spoke about and my later conversation.

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