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Food Prices Force Haitians to Eat Dirt

The Associated Press reported that Haiti’s poorest citizens are forced to eat dirt because of increased food prices.
In the past year, food prices, throughout the world escalated, due to increased prices in the oil used for agricultural processes. In addition, the 2007 hurricane season flooded and damaged many of the Caribbean nations’ crops. As a result, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency called a state of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean nations. In December, Caribbean leaders met at a summit to discuss options such as cutting food taxes to help ease the burdens of the poor.
The U.N. News Center reported that some countries are giving farmers aid in order to stimulate crop production.
Jacques Diouf, the Director-General for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, said, “Without support for the poor farmers and their families in the hardest-hit countries, they will not be able to cope.? (U.N. News Center)
In the past, pregnant Haitian women ate mud cookies as an antacid. However, as food prices increase, more people are forced to eat the cookies as a daily food source.
“When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day,? said Charlene Dumas, a 16-year-old Haitian mother, to the AP.
The health issues involved vary. Dirt can have toxins or parasites, but can also improve a pregnant woman’s immunity system. In either case, Haitian doctors are reluctant to encourage the eating of dirt.
“Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it,? said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti’s health ministry. (Associated Press)