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Speaking of Hunger and Coping with Food Insecurity: Experiences in the Afro-Ecuadorian Highlands

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Using examples from an Afro-Ecuadorian community, we analyze indicators of household food insecurity and discuss them in terms of household structure and different time frames. We found that perceptions of hunger vary independently over time and are expressed differently in different types of households. We also found that definitions, although variable within the population, can be framed in five conceptual categories: a) an experience filled with anguish or despair; b) hunger as an economic issue; c) a concern over child welfare; d) an experience of the physical body; e) hunger as the experience of not having any food rather than not having variety in what is eaten; and f) those individuals who indicated they had never experienced hunger. We also learned that individuals act and react in a variety of ways to food insecurity. Our study highlights the way people attempt to adjust to fluctuations in food and resources, how they can feel helpless and alienated, and how they attempt to do the best they can with dignity and hopefulness.
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Keywords: Afro-Ecuadorian; Hunger; coping strategies; food insecurity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA 2: Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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