Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

In Hungry Haiti, Dirt Is Food
Associated Press ^ | January 29, 2008 | JONATHAN M. KATZ

Posted on 01/29/2008 3:25:32 PM PST by decimon

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.

With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.

Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds 3 ounces he weighed at birth.

Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she said.

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.

The global price hikes, together with floods and crop damage from the 2007 hurricane season, prompted the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency to declare states of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean countries. Caribbean leaders held an emergency summit in December to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large regional farms to reduce dependence on imports.

At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.

Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with flies. Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as Fort Dimanche, a nearby shanty town.

Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison for which the slum is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun.

The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.

A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

Assessments of the health effects are mixed. Dirt can contain deadly parasites or toxins, but can also strengthen the immunity of fetuses in the womb to certain diseases, said Gerald N. Callahan, an immunology professor at Colorado State University who has studied geophagy, the scientific name for dirt-eating.

Haitian doctors say depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.

"Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it," said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti's health ministry.

Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.

"I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: clintonlegacy; dirt; dirtcookie; foodcrisis; foodinsecurity; haiti; hunger; mud; mudpie; starvation
...a tiny elite controls the economy.

There's the problem.

I cannot believe that ample food could not be produced in Haiti.

1 posted on 01/29/2008 3:25:34 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: decimon

Dominicans live on the same island and they seem to be doing OK.


2 posted on 01/29/2008 3:26:55 PM PST by cripplecreek (Duncan Hunter, Conservative excellence in action.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

A good friend of my husband and I’s was a Missionary in Haiti and so was his wife, it’s sad this country is falling apart and their government doesn’t seem to wanna help


3 posted on 01/29/2008 3:28:12 PM PST by Poetgal26 (God bless the US Military and our allies!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

The Dominicans have not stripped their half of the island of trees for firewood for cooking.

Haiti is a hellhole. When a country is dedicated to Satan, as this one was in 1804, the result is not surprising.


4 posted on 01/29/2008 3:29:19 PM PST by exit82 (How do you handle Hillary? You Huma her.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: decimon
...a tiny elite controls the economy.

The George Soros vision for all of humankind?

5 posted on 01/29/2008 3:31:36 PM PST by BenLurkin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

I thought Clintoon fixed Haiti


6 posted on 01/29/2008 3:31:49 PM PST by NonValueAdded (What Would Hobson Choose?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon
Absolutely. Independent since 1804. and with its splendid resources of climate, sun, and soil, Haiti should be an island paradise. But their history has been a dreadful cycle of dictatorship, revolt, dictatorship, revolt.

There are a lot of Haitians in the Boston area, and --- I have to add this --- they're beautiful.

7 posted on 01/29/2008 3:33:23 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Credo ut intelligam. -- Anselm)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Every night for dinner
We got a big old chunk of dirt
And if we were really good
We didn’t get desert

When I was Your Age...


8 posted on 01/29/2008 3:35:09 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck is the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aren't going.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Poetgal26

The government is the problem.


9 posted on 01/29/2008 3:35:21 PM PST by Mark was here (Hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: NonValueAdded

He fixed it alright.


10 posted on 01/29/2008 3:35:54 PM PST by BenLurkin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Mark was here

Yes I am aware of that, thank you


11 posted on 01/29/2008 3:36:29 PM PST by Poetgal26 (God bless the US Military and our allies!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: decimon

A “Turd World” typical socialist paradise. Every democrat’s dream come true.


12 posted on 01/29/2008 3:36:57 PM PST by FormerACLUmember (When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

>> two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents

I really feel for those poor folks.

But 2 cups of rice for 60 cents sounds like Associated Press Bull$hit to me.

It’s inconceivable that private enterprise couldn’t deliver rice the short distance to Haiti for much less than that.

Or maybe those prices have UN corruption factored in.


13 posted on 01/29/2008 3:37:38 PM PST by Nervous Tick (Retire Ron Paul! Support Chris Peden (www.chrispeden.org))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MrEdd

Raising Arizona

[an old convict and H.I. lying on their prison bunks, passing the time]
Ear-Bending Cellmate: ...and when there was no meat, we ate fowl and when there was no fowl, we ate crawdad and when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand.
H.I.: You ate what?
Ear-Bending Cellmate: We ate sand.
[pause]
H.I.: You ate SAND?
Ear-Bending Cellmate: That’s right!


14 posted on 01/29/2008 3:38:26 PM PST by cripplecreek (Duncan Hunter, Conservative excellence in action.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Yeah, no kidding. It should be a great growing climate.

I am also surprised they wouldn’t be going after plant leaves (even grass) of some kind and eating these instead of dirt. The only thing I can think of is that they don’t have any of this around where they are. I’d go for plants and grass first. At least you may be able to boil them and kill off any bacteria/viruses (mostly).


15 posted on 01/29/2008 3:40:01 PM PST by Secret Agent Man
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MrEdd

If you weren’t really good—you got dessert! Pie-ala-mud.


16 posted on 01/29/2008 3:40:47 PM PST by Keli Kilohana (Editor, ZARR CHASM CHRONICAL [sic], Sore, WV)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Poetgal26

I spent 4 weeks there on a medical missionary team. The only cure to Haiti will be to invade, completely take over the country, and run it as a territory of the US for at least 2 generations.

The problems are so systemic and so ingrained in the population that just bringing in a “new” Haitian government will result in zero change.

Truly a shame, because the country could be beautiful, a massive producer of sugar, coffee, wonderful tourist destination, and an economic success like many Caribbean nations. The people have so many generations of outright repression they have zero history - or even concept - of a free life or even a normal life. No one alive has even the slightest concept of what life could be like, because they - nor anyone they know - ever experienced anything but destitute poverty.

Truly a case of the haves and the have nots, and it will not change short of an external force.


17 posted on 01/29/2008 3:40:57 PM PST by PugetSoundSoldier (Complaining about the sting of truth is the defense of the indefensible.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: decimon
I've been to Haiti, and the first thing you notice from the locals is the sea of bright yellow eyes where the whites oughtta be showing.

In my case, every one of them was fixed on me. You know you're not dealing with healthy people when you see yellow eyes.

18 posted on 01/29/2008 3:41:03 PM PST by The KG9 Kid
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon

The only way for Haiti to ever get out of this self destructive cycle is foreign occupation. Haiti is simply a failed state that cannot function by itself. But it would be selfish to do that because it’s “neo-colonialism”.


19 posted on 01/29/2008 3:41:04 PM PST by Shadow44
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NonValueAdded
I thought Clintoon fixed Haiti

From Wikipedia:

US occupation

Throughout the nineteenth century, Haiti was ruled by a series of presidents, most of whom remained in office only briefly. Meanwhile, the country's economy was gradually dominated by foreigners, particularly from Germany. Concerned about German influence and growing military presence, and disturbed by the savage public dismembering of President Guillaume Sam by an enraged crowd, the United States invaded and occupied[6] Haiti in 1915. The United States imposed a constitution written by future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, and applied an old system of compulsory corvée labor to everyone. Previously this system had been applied only to members of the poor, black majority.

Nationalist rebels, called Cacos[7], waged a persistent guerilla warfare, headed by Charlemagne Péralte (until 1919) and Dominique Batraville (until 1920). Roosevelt was disenchanted with the burden and negative social aspects of attempting to impose U.S. influence on the population and proceeded to implement an earlier disengagement agreement, thereby ending the U.S. occupation in 1934.[8]

Woodrow Wilson and FDR fixed Haiti.

20 posted on 01/29/2008 3:41:31 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: MrEdd

Is that from Weird al yankovich?


21 posted on 01/29/2008 3:43:03 PM PST by tbw2 (Science fiction with real science - "Humanity's Edge" - on amazon.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Let them eat dirt. We need the biofuels to keep our import economy going.


22 posted on 01/29/2008 3:43:13 PM PST by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, will write Duncan Hunter in)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Poetgal26

A sad mess.
I have friends who used to go down there on missionary work 25 years ago and things were dire then, too.
I can’t recall a time in my lifetime when Haiti wasn’t a crumbling disaster in the making.


23 posted on 01/29/2008 3:43:48 PM PST by mountainbunny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Gives a new meaning to chitting bricks.


24 posted on 01/29/2008 3:44:23 PM PST by dragonblustar (Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God - G. K. Chesterton)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: familyop
We need the biofuels to keep our import economy going.

I think that is the least of any food shortage problem they have.

25 posted on 01/29/2008 3:46:19 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Seems that I read somewhere that they have an astronomical crack addiction rate there as well.


26 posted on 01/29/2008 3:50:07 PM PST by cripplecreek (Duncan Hunter, Conservative excellence in action.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: PugetSoundSoldier

“The only cure to Haiti will be to invade, completely take over the country, and run it as a territory of the US for at least 2 generations.”

The US Marines did that early in the 20th century and stayed there until at least the 1930s. It didn’t seem to help, though.


27 posted on 01/29/2008 3:50:45 PM PST by kiriath_jearim
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: decimon

This is going to sound cold-hearted, but I have to say ...

I think one is very lazy to BUY DIRT to make cookies,


28 posted on 01/29/2008 3:51:33 PM PST by daku ("My dream continues with ferocity, thank you.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: decimon
Image hosted by Photobucket.com where 16 year old Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents...

and the cycle continues...

29 posted on 01/29/2008 3:52:02 PM PST by Chode (American Hedonist )
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tbw2
Of course.
30 posted on 01/29/2008 3:54:20 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck is the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aren't going.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: decimon

It’s terrible and it’s sad, but the problem isn’t those of those who “have”. “Have not” is the natural order of things for the bulk of humankind and human history. With a capitalist system, the rule of law, and relatively low corruption, societies can pull themselves out of this state... unfortunately, with the encouragement of the world’s intellectual elite, more emphasis is placed on maintaining “culture” and “fairness”.


31 posted on 01/29/2008 3:54:55 PM PST by I Hired Craig Livingstone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: daku

To be fair it seems to be some special kind of dirt that is trucked in. Not sure why it’s special beyond being yellow though.


32 posted on 01/29/2008 3:56:06 PM PST by SlapHappyPappy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: kiriath_jearim

I would hope that if we went in, it would be more along the lines of rebuilding Germany, Japan, and Iraq. The early escapades were more a means to keep others out, rather than strengthening Haiti itself.


33 posted on 01/29/2008 3:57:48 PM PST by PugetSoundSoldier (Complaining about the sting of truth is the defense of the indefensible.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o
There are a lot of Haitians in the Boston area, and --- I have to add this --- they're beautiful.

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have them take over your neighborhood.

34 posted on 01/29/2008 3:59:26 PM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: decimon
Fine ... eradicate the native population and colonize the place.

Would that make AP happier?

35 posted on 01/29/2008 4:10:10 PM PST by Centurion2000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

Raising Arizona was one weird movie. Bill Rosz was even in it!


36 posted on 01/29/2008 4:17:23 PM PST by TenthAmendmentChampion (Global warming is to Revelations as the theory of evolution is to Genesis.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

Put the U.N. in charge .... move their HQ there.

empty the local markets of every person that seems to understand running a business and issue them some land and all the supplies they need to start a farm... immediately plant every piece of gov’t owned dirt with citrus , mango’s , papayas and every other kind of fruit tree...


37 posted on 01/29/2008 4:49:07 PM PST by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: decimon
Like most stuff that comes out of the media, this is a bit misleading. There's no doubt that Haiti is a hellhole and that people can't afford food, but plenty of country Black people in the South used to eat clay when they were able to afford food.

I suspect eating dirt in Haiti is more tradition than starvation.

38 posted on 01/29/2008 4:56:16 PM PST by Toskrin (Bringing you global cooling since 1999)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TenthAmendmentChampion

Taking over Haiti isn’t the answer. We don’t need to mix that level of poverty into our society. (see tagline)


39 posted on 01/29/2008 5:14:32 PM PST by P8triot1 (Liberalism ALWAYS produces the exact opposite of its stated intent. Quinns 1st. law..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: exit82

I recently saw cruise boats are returning to Haiti and I thought to myself WHY? I am thinking of booking one to show my kids how good they have it.


40 posted on 01/29/2008 5:16:42 PM PST by ThisLittleLightofMine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

Example of Clintonista’s “Nation Building”.


41 posted on 01/29/2008 5:29:22 PM PST by Leo Carpathian (ffffFReeeePeee!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: decimon

Eating dirt or eating bark in NK. Sorry guys I’d have to go with the dirt - and wash that sucker down with some self-created “beer.”


42 posted on 01/29/2008 5:31:56 PM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (The Constitution does not give me the authority to run your life - Ron Paul)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Moonman62

Nah. We’re in East Tennessee. All we’re getting is Yankees.


43 posted on 01/29/2008 5:32:38 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Bodacious Yankees.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Mark was here
There is a big revolt (or at least a demonstration) brewing that will take place at the end of the Rah-Rah celebration in February. I have my sources.
44 posted on 01/29/2008 8:02:29 PM PST by Wabashtadpole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: NonValueAdded
I thought Clintoon fixed Haiti

I don't know if we're still messing around down but my ship went there in 2005 to pick up some Army units that were leaving. I've never seen anything like the incredible poverty on the hillsides of Port au Prince. We went in, loaded up and got the hell out.

45 posted on 01/29/2008 10:34:13 PM PST by GATOR NAVY (Your parents will all receive phone calls instructing them to love you less now.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: decimon
I just had a heaping bowl of gruel with a side of North Korean tree bark, for desert some Haitian dirt cookies ...

I don’t see the problem here

46 posted on 01/29/2008 10:54:25 PM PST by daku ("My dream continues with ferocity, thank you.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson