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In Haiti: People Eat Dirt Cookies

A Haitian woman making dirt cookies. (Screenshot/YouTube)
A Haitian woman making dirt cookies. (Screenshot/YouTube)

While going through my Facebook feed, I noticed a video post from a female friend on dirt cookies. Initially I thought it was a play on words to describe a type of cookie or perhaps a fancy recipe. It turns out the video was about dirt – literally – and how poor Haitians eat it.

As you’ll see in the video below, the poverty and hunger these Haitians face has led them to make and eat dirt cookies. The video itself is a few years old but given that Haiti remains impoverished I can only presume this practice is ongoing.

Known as “bonbon de terres” they’re made from clay mixed with water, salt, vegetable shortening, and – if available – sugar.

People can buy the dirt cookies for 5 cents apiece.

Some Haitians believe the cookies contain nutritional value, such as calcium, which is why pregnant women and children will eat it. However, medical experts beg to differ saying eating them promotes tooth decay and constipation among other things.

You can see the eye-opening video below:

Apart from zero nutritional value, the dirt cookies usually contain dormant microscopic parasite eggs says Free The Kids. After they’re eaten, the eggs become active and hatch parasites in the person’s body.

Living in a developed country, the thought of having to eat dirt is unheard of. Unfortunately, this is commonplace in Haiti and some parts of Africa.

This video went viral after it was published in 2008, with many news outlets covering the subject. After seeing the video, I looked online to see if these occurrences are still ongoing and couldn’t find a recent article from any news outlet reporting on the issue.

Like many “hot topics,” in mainstream media, once the attention shifts, it rarely comes back. So perhaps, this is one topic needs to be brought to light again.

Haitian kids with some dirt cookies in the foreground. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Haitian kids with some dirt cookies in the foreground. (Screenshot/YouTube)

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