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Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt
Associated Press ^ | Jan 29, 2008 | JONATHAN M. KATZ

Posted on 02/16/2008 11:31:16 AM PST by IssuesOriented

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: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dirt; dirtcookie; foodcrisis; foodinsecurity; haiti; hunger; mud; mudpie; pica; poverty; starvation
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1 posted on 02/16/2008 11:31:18 AM PST by IssuesOriented
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To: IssuesOriented
I was in Haiti many years ago back when "Papa Doc" was still alive. I assume it hasn't improved much since then.
You have to see Haiti first hand to believe it. The poverty level is indescribable.
2 posted on 02/16/2008 11:37:17 AM PST by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: IssuesOriented

Well, when you worship voodooism and Satanism, this is bound to happen.


3 posted on 02/16/2008 11:37:41 AM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (The Constitution does not give me the authority to run your life - Ron Paul)
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To: IssuesOriented

Waiting for the Barack supporters to hold up his .7% GDP giveaway to the U.N. as a justification and cure-all for all things like this now.


4 posted on 02/16/2008 11:44:13 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly posting without reading the article carefully since 2004)
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To: Fiddlstix

The U.S., alone, has provided Haiti’s 8 million people with more than $600 million in foreign aid over the past six years. Where did it go? What was it used for? What is wrong with this picture?


5 posted on 02/16/2008 11:49:47 AM PST by 3AngelaD (They screwed up their own countries so bad they had to leave, and now they're here screwing up ours)
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To: IssuesOriented
Ahem. A couple of lines from Bill Cosby, talking about his father:

The man ate dirt until he was 30 years old. That's all there was, was dirt.
6 posted on 02/16/2008 11:51:05 AM PST by arderkrag (Libertarian Nutcase (Political Compass Coordinates: 9.00, -2.62 - www.politicalcompass.org))
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To: IssuesOriented

I’m sure we’ll be sending a few billion over there too. Africa gets 30 billion for “aids research”, why not throw some more at this hellhole?


7 posted on 02/16/2008 11:54:14 AM PST by The Worthless Miracle (No one can steal your inner worth if they don't know where to look for it.)
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To: IssuesOriented

16 year old with five siblings, unemployed parents, and already has a child of her own.

STOP F-—ING.


8 posted on 02/16/2008 11:54:50 AM PST by CGTRWK
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
Well, when you worship voodooism and Satanism, this is bound to happen.

My thoughts exactly.

9 posted on 02/16/2008 11:59:00 AM PST by Jorge
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To: 3AngelaD
I haven't been back there in many years and have no intention of ever going back there. Once was enough for me.
To answer your question, I'll guess at it.....
We send them "so called" aid and the few very wealthy, the "overlords", use it to build lavish mansions and estates.
Much like certain other countries south of our border who we send "aid" to all the time.
10 posted on 02/16/2008 12:08:20 PM PST by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: arderkrag

Raising Arizona.

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!


11 posted on 02/16/2008 12:09:19 PM PST by cripplecreek (Just call me M.O.M. (Maverick Opposed to McCain.))
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: 3AngelaD
The U.S., alone, has provided Haiti’s 8 million people with more than $600 million in foreign aid over the past six years. Where did it go? What was it used for?


13 posted on 02/16/2008 12:10:47 PM PST by Dumpster Baby (Eschew obfuscation)
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To: IssuesOriented

Haiti is an island. If I were hungry, I’d go down to the sea and fetch some fresh food.


14 posted on 02/16/2008 12:13:03 PM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
Her baby, named Woodson......
A name like Woodson might hurt him in the voodoo business.
15 posted on 02/16/2008 12:13:39 PM PST by Krankor (kROGER)
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
According to a Lutheran priest I met who works with Food for the Hungry, this isn’t the only place this happens.

Fellow Freepers, much of world hunger results from corruption and dictators who fear free markets and free people! Keeping them hungry keeps them under control.

16 posted on 02/16/2008 12:14:00 PM PST by GAB-1955 (Kicking and Screaming into the Kingdom of Heaven!)
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To: IssuesOriented
Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Five bucks for a bucket of tasty dirt..........


17 posted on 02/16/2008 12:14:31 PM PST by Dumpster Baby (Eschew obfuscation)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

Funny thing is that the Dominicans live on the same island and I don’t hear much about them starving.


18 posted on 02/16/2008 12:15:01 PM PST by cripplecreek (Just call me M.O.M. (Maverick Opposed to McCain.))
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To: IssuesOriented
An American black guy I met last year described his stopover on an inter-island flight in Port-Au-Prince.

He said the people looked at him like he was food. He said he saw nothing in there eyes....just dull, animal like desperation.

He was clearly shaken. This was a guy who worked for a major U.S. company and who was obviously well off.

Having been raised on white oppression grievance politics, and maybe even being the beneficiary of it, he was having a hard time coming to grips with a black ruled country that clearly has no one else to blame but itself.

The other Carribbean islands that are still French departments are nowhere near this bad. In fact, some, like Martinique, are positively well off.

But then, they aren't ruled by primitives reverting to jungle tribalism.

19 posted on 02/16/2008 12:15:02 PM PST by Regulator (And What Will America Look Like Under Chief Obama? Zimbabwe)
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To: Dumpster Baby

Wow!!! Great pic. That guy’s so poor he can’t even afford fenders on his bike!


20 posted on 02/16/2008 12:16:06 PM PST by Krankor (kROGER)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: cripplecreek
Funny thing is that the Dominicans live on the same island and I don’t hear much about them starving

The slums in Santo Domingo are still pretty bad.

But the inflow of money from tourism and expatriate Dominicans in the U.S. has changed things. The airport is now quite nice, and a lot of the thug customs types were replaced by fresh looking kids wearing nice uniforms. And they don't dream up reasons for you to hand over $10 anymore...someone realized that shaking people down right at the entry to the country actually deters biz.

So it is far better than Haiti. But still a place to be very careful in, and nowhere near as nice as say, San Juan.

22 posted on 02/16/2008 12:19:08 PM PST by Regulator (And What Will America Look Like Under Chief Obama? Zimbabwe)
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To: Dumpster Baby

Are you saying we paid $600 million for a nice paint job? That building replaced one blown up in 1912 and was built after the US Marine occupation began in 1915. Or did we pay for it twice?


23 posted on 02/16/2008 12:25:11 PM PST by 3AngelaD (They screwed up their own countries so bad they had to leave, and now they're here screwing up ours)
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To: IssuesOriented

Perpetual victims — just like the New Orleans Superdome crown, only more resourceful.


24 posted on 02/16/2008 12:25:19 PM PST by Migraine (...diversity is great... until it happens to YOU...)
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To: Migraine

crowd


25 posted on 02/16/2008 12:25:52 PM PST by Migraine (...diversity is great... until it happens to YOU...)
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To: Regulator

I suspect the eastern end of the island is more suitable for farming which helps as well.


26 posted on 02/16/2008 12:36:58 PM PST by cripplecreek (Just call me M.O.M. (Maverick Opposed to McCain.))
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To: 3AngelaD

just like mexico. there is a class of really rich and the rest are dirt poor.


27 posted on 02/16/2008 12:39:17 PM PST by television is just wrong
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To: 3AngelaD

just like mexico. there is a class of really rich and the rest are dirt poor.

or maybe we are being lied to and no aid was ever sent.


28 posted on 02/16/2008 12:39:46 PM PST by television is just wrong
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To: Regulator

hard time coming to grips with a black ruled country that clearly has no one else to blame but itself.

Amazing, isn’t it? Try this word game—substitute responsible and caring for white. Substitute selfish trash for black. Gives you a whole different perspective.

Trash can be either color, and so can responsible and caring. Always wondered why there were no successful countries run by blacks, and I am not being racist in any way. I imagine the guy you met got quite a rude awakening.


29 posted on 02/16/2008 12:39:55 PM PST by gardengirl
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To: IssuesOriented
Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

Still much safer than consuming "food" imported from China.

30 posted on 02/16/2008 12:49:52 PM PST by E. Cartman (Huckaboob will never be Vice President.)
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To: IssuesOriented

P.S. we have people in our own nation starving as well.


31 posted on 02/16/2008 12:50:53 PM PST by television is just wrong
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To: television is just wrong

P.S. we have people in our own nation starving as well.”
____________________________

Let them starve....there is more opportunity here than anywhere in the world. Bad choices, quite simple.


32 posted on 02/16/2008 1:11:27 PM PST by cowdog77 (Circle the Wagons)
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To: IssuesOriented

I would suggest use a condumn.


33 posted on 02/16/2008 1:23:32 PM PST by Brilliant
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To: IssuesOriented; big'ol_freeper; TrueKnightGalahad; blackie; Larry Lucido; Diplomat; honolulugal; ...
Re: Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

Hun? How can that be?

Didn't Bill Clinton early in his presidency... use that loathed American military to invade Haiti and set up a Clintonista Liberal Paradise that would outlast the White Man's evil democracy in America?

34 posted on 02/16/2008 1:29:37 PM PST by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: IssuesOriented

Geez, when I saw this thread I was horrified, feeling sympathy and empathy for these poor, desperate fellow human beings. Eating dirt?!
But, after reading these postings in response I now see the humorous side of it. It’s really pretty funny!
Thanks guys. I feel much better.


35 posted on 02/16/2008 1:53:15 PM PST by BunkDetector
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
>Well, when you worship voodooism and Satanism, this is bound to happen

Hmmm... If eating dirt
comes from Satanism and
voodoo, what's our deal?!

36 posted on 02/16/2008 1:59:42 PM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: CGTRWK
16 year old with five siblings, unemployed parents, and already has a child of her own. STOP F-—ING

Better tell the men to STOP R--PING.

37 posted on 02/16/2008 2:00:06 PM PST by Albion Wilde ("How [Obama] stumbled onto Walter Mondale's political philosophy is beyond me." —Tony Blankley)
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To: BunkDetector
>I was horrified, feeling sympathy and empathy for these poor, desperate fellow human beings. Eating dirt?! But, after reading these postings in response I now see the humorous side of it. It’s really pretty funny! Thanks guys. I feel much better

And the pretty girls
got in the act just below
your observation . . .
38 posted on 02/16/2008 2:01:14 PM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: IssuesOriented

Don’t worry help is on the way with Barak and Al sharpton in the lead and our tax dollars in tow!


39 posted on 02/16/2008 2:01:50 PM PST by ronnie raygun (Id rather be hunting with dick than driving with ted)
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To: CGTRWK
STOP F-—ING

Not much else to do there. No TV. No internet.

40 posted on 02/16/2008 2:05:41 PM PST by reg45
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To: television is just wrong
"P.S. we have people in our own nation starving as well."

Where?

41 posted on 02/16/2008 2:19:42 PM PST by Eagles6
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

Yes, funny thing that. Surrounded by an ocean full of fish and the people have to eat dirt.


42 posted on 02/16/2008 2:26:17 PM PST by Eagles6
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To: 3AngelaD
Are you saying we paid $600 million for a nice paint job? That building replaced one blown up in 1912 and was built after the US Marine occupation began in 1915. Or did we pay for it twice?

Anytime you want to know where millions and billions of foreign aid went, you go in the front door of the presidential palace. The trail starts there and almost always ends there.

43 posted on 02/16/2008 2:28:34 PM PST by Dumpster Baby (Eschew obfuscation)
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To: reg45
Not much else to do there. No TV. No internet.

They do have some pretty intense trances, though.

44 posted on 02/16/2008 2:32:10 PM PST by Migraine (...diversity is great... until it happens to YOU...)
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To: Eagles6

mostly single families, Ozarks, Appalachians, etc.


45 posted on 02/16/2008 4:50:10 PM PST by television is just wrong
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To: Eagles6

mostly parent single families, Ozarks, Appalachians, etc.


46 posted on 02/16/2008 4:50:28 PM PST by television is just wrong
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To: The Worthless Miracle

“Africa gets 30 billion for “aids research”, why not throw some more at this hellhole?”

NO they don’t. They get 30 billion to stop the Commies from taking over. The line item is AIDS research.


47 posted on 02/16/2008 5:28:16 PM PST by EQAndyBuzz (Shouldn't the libs love a Hunter Thompson ticket in 08?)
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To: television is just wrong
P.S. we have people in our own nation starving as well.

Name one (anorexics don't count).

48 posted on 02/16/2008 5:32:08 PM PST by dfwgator (11+7+15=3 Heismans)
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To: television is just wrong

Sorry, I don’t buy it. Things may be tight for some but between gov’t programs, family, friends, church and food banks no one is starving in America. There maybe families where the mother would rather smoke crack than feed her kids but that’s a different story.


49 posted on 02/16/2008 7:16:58 PM PST by Eagles6
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To: gardengirl
I imagine the guy you met got quite a rude awakening

I could see him shake when he talked about it.

It's that bad.

50 posted on 02/16/2008 10:00:09 PM PST by Regulator (And What Will America Look Like Under Chief Obama? Zimbabwe)
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