Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Food and Social Change

I was a kid in the 1960s, when protests were a popular communications tool. Whether you agreed with the protesters message or not, you agreed they had the right to express themselves in a fashion that is at once peaceful and disobedient.

It's tough to balance these two states of being. The Democratic Convention of 1968 demonstrates this. Peaceful intent gives way to conflict. We watched it on tv, read about it in the newspapers, talked about it around kitchen tables with the neighbors.

When my parents sat with the other adults in the neighborhood, lamenting the loss of their generations' social construct, they would eat and drink. There was soda and beer, potato chips and dip, sandwiches and snacks. No matter how much they agreed or argued, they ate.

The Protester Diet

Well, it's déjà vu for me, watching the latest, greatest protest hits on television. While I empathize with some causes, and others not, I find myself wondering what they eat.

Of course, energy bars and bottled water come to mind. Tuna packets are also popular, as are foil wrapped bean burritos, dried meats and trail mix. Stick a few on-the-go foods in your riot-gear ready backpack and you're ready for battle.

While perusing the numerous sites that enumerate the items needed to protect yourself against local authorities and the weaponry they carry, I came across this article from The Guardian regarding the intended Women's March on Washington in January of 2017.

From the article:
Food: every participant is allowed to have one 12in by 12in by 6in plastic container or gallon bag for meals. The FAQ also mentions food trucks, and DC of course has plenty of restaurants.

This is a clear and practical approach to feeding oneself while protesting the election of a capitalist to the White House. You can take a break from the hate and dine at Mirabelle.

Occupation Fare
Long term protesting requires a food supply. Food Not Bombs recognizes that need and has created a sort of inverse catering industry.

From the website:
We also provide food and logistical support to often marginalized people and social movements by feeding striking workers and their families, people participating at protests, and organizing community projects.

They collect food from food sellers and disperse it, food that would have been thrown away. It's still good; it just can't be sold. They collect the food and use it to feed people. So if you need some way to feed a large group of social warriors, Food Not Bombs are your kind of people.

Future Foods
Protesting is a growing industry. Sales for items like scarves, baggies, backpacks and fume masks must certainly be on the rise. It is a distinctive look this particular brand of soldier is going for, and I'm certain the fashion industry is watching.

I try to imagine what sort of foods will come from all of this. The Depression brought us a multitude of vegetable dishes that continue to occupy menu space. Will we see Food Not Bombs–branded energy bars in the convenience stores where we fill our cars with petrol?

Branded water bottles seem a natural outgrowth of this wave of civil disobedience. Water distributors could offer custom labels: A message on a bottle.

Some enterprising soul will certainly come up with a food product that suits the protester lifestyle. Some sort of pre-packaged dehydrated foodstuff that requires neither heat nor refrigeration, brought to life with a water packet. Whatever they come up with, it will probably taste like chicken.