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Geophagy: addiction to Dirt

Thursday, November 13, 2008 | | | |
The extraordinary practice of earth eating is well documented by medical and anthropology journals and classified as "pica" or "geophagy". While not being considered a social norm in Western society, the custom is quite common among primitive or economically depressed peoples, and also animals, to augment a scanty or mineral-deficient diet. However, the practice is most often confined to people suffering from chronic mental illness and commonly labeled as "nutters". In contrast, in the slums of Haiti, people make and eat mud pies on a daily basis, with the earth being mixed with water and sieved through a cheesecloth to remove inedible stones. The batter is then formed into pancakes and fried, selling in the local markets at five for a dime. Fortunately these are not approved for the export market, yet, but keep an eye on theTesco's Finest shelves. The picture shows Baobao, an 18-year-old girl from Inner Mongolia, who recently became world famous after eating dirt for 11 years!