By Howard Zinn

This is an extraordinary book, written by an extraordinary community of people. Their presence became known to me quite gradually, over a long period of time. I began to notice their tables, their signs, and cauldrons of hot soup and supplies of nutritious vegetables at meetings, at demonstrations, and on city streets. Then one night I was invited to a gathering place for poets, musicians, and performers of all sorts who were possessed of some social consciousness, and there was a counter at the side of the room, and, again, that sign: Food Not Bombs.

This time, I paid more than ordinary attention, because I recognized the man behind the counter, Eric Weinberger. I had met him twenty-five years before on the road from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in the great civil rights march of 1965, and again in 1977, in another march, this time of anti-nuclear activists, into the site of the Seabrook nuclear power plant. Now another dozen years had elapsed, and he was with Food Not Bombs. I thought these Food Not Bombs folk are carrying on the long march of the American people, moving slowly but inexorably towards a livable society. The message of Food Not Bombs is simple and powerful: no one should be without food in a world so richly provided with land, sun, and human ingenuity. No consideration of money, no demand for profit, should stand in the way of any hungry or malnourished child or any adult in need. Here are people who will not be bamboozled by "the laws of the market " that say only people who can afford to buy something can have it.

Even before the recent collapse of the Soviet Union, it was an absurd and immoral policy to spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year to support a nuclear arsenal that, if used, would bring about the greatest genocide in human history and, if not used, would constitute an enormous theft from the American people. Today, with no "Soviet threat, " the policy of spending a trillion dollars over the next few years to maintain a nuclear arsenal, other weapons, and a worldwide network of military bases is even more absurd. The slogan "Food Not Bombs" is even more recognizable today as clear common sense.

This slogan requires no complicated analysis. Those three words "say it all. " They point unerringly to the double challenge: to feed immediately people who are without adequate food, and to replace a system whose priorities are power and profit with one meeting the needs of all human beings.

It is rare to find a book that combines long-range wisdom with practical advice, but here is a treasury of such advice. It tells in specific detail how to form a Food Not Bombs group, how to collect food, how to prepare it (yes, wonderful recipes!), and how to distribute it.

Every step in this process is intertwined with the warning: do not allow self-appointed "leaders " or elites to make important decisions. Decisions must be made democratically, with as wide a participation as possible, aiming to reach a consensus.

The idea here is profound. If we want a good society, we need not shout, but rather show, how life should be lived. Yes, this book is truly nutritious.

Send $15 for The Food Not Bombs Handbook to:

PO Box 424, Arroyo Seco, NM 87515

Start a Food Not Bombs group in you community today!

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E-mail Keith McHenry