This article explores the settlement of Russian Mennonites on the Paraguayan Chaco frontier during the Chaco War years. These colonists engaged in a range of seemingly contradictory place-making practices – from the agro-environmental and the political to the spiritual and the cultural – that served to solidify their tenuous claim to an unfamiliar and highly contested landscape. Ideas of food security – seen in terms of both production and consumption – linked these diverse exercises. In the Paraguayan Chaco, these former Russian wheat farmers experimented with new crops and foodways. Although pacifists, they supplied the Paraguayan military efforts even as they also sent their crops to Nazi Germany. Finally, as an ethnic group practising endogamy and seeking isolation from their neighbours, they unexpectedly initiated a campaign to evangelise the Chaco's indigenous population centred, in part, on reforming the latter's ‘deficient’ diet.