Global food prices are so high Haitians are feeding themselves dirt — or more specifically, mud cookies made with salt and vegetable shortening. AP reporter Jonathan Katz sampled one: 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." To be sure, this isn't some innovation borne simply of the desperation of the time; Haiti has long been the poorest country in the Western hemisphere (Here's a decent primer as to why), and the immune system strengthening power of dirt cookies, or "pica" have long made them such a staple of the impoverished woman's prenatal diet in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean that some women actually get cravings for them during pregnancy (which, as you can imagine, is not one of those urges the childbirth authorities of the U.S. encourage acting upon.)
But it's a scary reminder of how prohibitively expensive basic needs have become in the Third World, thanks to famine, oil prices and our fucking ethanol subsidies (which I'll remind you again, only McCain seems to oppose.) Two cups of rice at the market in Haiti cost sixty cents these days, which is awfully high, but Haiti is an island and a net importer of food. Bangladesh is suffering a similar fate, though the government has stepped in to lower the cost of basic food commodities.
And with that I suppose I should tell you that if you just started jonesing for a Mississippi mud pie with a side order of Rocky Road, um, you're a terrible person but you are not alone.
Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt
Kevin Sites In The Hot Zone: Haitian Mud Pies [Yahoo]
Related: Why Is Haiti So Poor?
Bangladesh Steps Up Food Aid For Poor
Next Power Antibiotic Born From Haitian Dirt [Boston]
Pica and Pregnancy
Earlier: Will The 'End Of Cheap Food' Make Us Thin Again?