After the United States cancelled the credits for wheat imports to Nicaragua in April 1981, the Sandinista government started a political campaign entitled "El maíz, nuestra raíz" to promote corn consumption. The paper analyzes how food politics, discourses and consumption patterns influenced each other between the 1970s and the 1990s. It focuses on two political transition processes: the first after the Sandinista revolution in July 1979, and the second one after their electoral defeat in 1990.
During the Somoza period, food and nutrition were marginal political issues. When the Sandinistas came to power in July 1979, they gave food policy a new priority. Their goal was to make food accessible to all Nicaraguans. In consequence, they tried to raise basic grain production and established a new state distribution system. The National Food Program (PAN) promoted corn consumption by publishing pre-Columbian legends, old recipes and organizing corn festivals. After 1990, Nicaragua entered into a severe crisis with high levels of malnutrition and poverty.
In focusing on the periods of transition, the paper explores on the one hand how political changes affected food consumption patterns. On the other hand, it shows how different governments failed in trying to modify consumption habits. According to Nicaraguan statistics, corn, beans, rice, wheat, and sugar remain until today the most consumed aliments in the country.