Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt
January 31, 2008 5:21pm CST
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — 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. Continued http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hcJ474CjaJGOUznskl4ZgTHdpxUAD8UFQVR00
10 Feb 08
Ah, bad bad bad. I wonder when we shall be able to sort this problem out. My heart really cries out when people starve. There is so much of food available, just that people are not responsible usually. I wish to be able to do so much for such people... Now I am contributing only in small way.