Reflections On Food Insecurity-- And American Perceptions Of Greed

By Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez

In my house we hide food.  En mi casa, si mami te compra tus galletas favoritas, tu las escondes.  This is common practice, accepted means of living in my casa. It is entirely normal, to look for a saucepan and find chips hidden inside it. In my house, it is normal to look for soap and find bread hidden there.  

I have heard someone say under their breath that this particular practice is selfish.

During my honeymoon, with my then, white American husband, we went to Nicaragua. It was at an all-inclusive resort, which is relatively affordable for some locals.   To get to the food at this resort there was no system, no line.  However my “polite” ex-husband began to resent the buffet, as the vacation went on, because he felt disrespected by the locals who went for the food while he “politely” stood back and waited for his turn (which never came).

He called the locals, my compatriots, greedy.  Even though I, too, reacted this way toward the buffet.  I, too, went directly for what I wanted and got it, because there was no line.

I grew up with food insecurities in my household.  Growing up poor, you learn what hunger means.  You see your childhood friends sniffing glue to curb their hunger pangs. You learn this at age 5, and you know what starvation looks like: It looks like Valeria from your clase de prescolar.  

Food insecurities means that you barely get what you need to survive, so when you get that one treat you’ve been dying to get: you hide it.  You hoard it.  You do not make a line and follow any outsider-imposed framework for how you approach food.  You go and get you some.  

Food insecurities do not leave you, easily.  My little sister came to the USA at 3 months old, and although she never knew Nicaraguan-poverty she still hoards her treats because she has inherited that practice.  She has seen me do it, my brother, my mother, and my father.  She has only known food insecurities, second-hand.  

Food insecurities are my immigrant tells.  It is how I can tell the difference between a new immigrant and someone who has adopted American-approved ways of appropriate behavior.  I think for a long time I tried to adopt these practices, but it came at the price of ridiculing my own family.  It came at the high price of rejecting where we came from, and our basic survival instincts.

Americanization is funny like that; it requires us to not only shed our well-earned and respectable ways of living through the world in our perspective countries, it requires us to reject that entire part of who we are.  If anything says that more, it is in the Oath of Allegiance that we are suppose to swear to when we become naturalized in the USA:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen…

…Naturalization is unnatural, and I intend on valuing my food insecurities as MY declaration to never renounce my allegiance to my context as a Nicaraguan from barrio Chicopelon in Managua.  Because when people call it selfish and greedy, it will remind me that people in my country have died of starvation due to the ills caused by colonization from the selfish and greedy people like themselves.


Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is a chonga Mujerista from Managua, Nicaragua currently living in Miami, FL. She recently graduated with her Masters from Vanderbilt University, and is looking to take some much needed time off to refresh. She is also the founder of Latina Rebels, a blogger for HuffPo Latino Voices, and a columnist/editor at Chica Magazine. Her interests are within biopolitics as it relates to Latina embodiment, specifically concerning models of conquerable flesh around narratives of naturalization for women of color. Thus her work is around reclaiming and upholding embodied resistance, particularly within chonga and chola subcultures. Que viva la mujer!

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