Elevate Difference

Nine Gallons #2: True Stories by Susie Cagle

In Nine Gallons #2: True Stories by Susie Cagle, writer and artist Susie Cagle recounts her experiences with Food Not Bombs. For those unfamiliar, Food Not Bombs is a "franchise activist non-organization dedicated to fighting hunger with vegetarian meals comprised mainly from wasted food.” Food Not Bombs chapters are all over the world, though predominantly in major cities.

Though this publication is small, Cagle covers a lot of ground. You learn that it’s not easy being involved with the non-organization. One will face working for free (not everyone can afford to volunteer), unreliable volunteers, and uncertainty over where food and resources will come from. The public responds to your work in varied ways, ranging anywhere from positive support to fevered rudeness. There are also issues of class and racial privilege that come into play. As the writer perfectly states, "a largely white monopoly on Food Not Bombs as a cultural institution is an impediment to people of color self-organizing.”

Though the artist didn't touch on weather being an issue, the climate in which you live greatly affects when and where you can serve food. One year, the Food Not Bombs chapter I was involved in served spaghetti at a park on the fourth of July. With little warning, there was a rainstorm that showered us and our hard work. We couldn't afford a tent or cover of any kind, so the food was flooded and had to be thrown away.

Susie's writing is skilled, her illustrations are well-formed and charming, and her characters are both believable and easy to relate to. The only qualm I had with the zine was her illustration style. The artist draws people from a two-thirds angle and they are usually facing the same way. I am unsure whether she is limiting her angles and facial drawings due to necessity or artistic choice. Either way, this repetition distracts us from good stories that deserve our focus.

Overall, Nine Gallons #2 serves as an easy to read, honest, and articulate recount of working with Food Not Bombs.

Written by: Jacquie Piasta, April 11th 2011