The health benefits of eating mud

Rethinking the myth that Haitians eat dirt to keep from starving VIDEO

Topics: Video, Poverty, hunger, food insecurity, United Nations, Haiti, ,

If you believe everything you read about the food situation in Haiti, you could be forgiven for feeling a mixture of overwhelming pity and revulsion. For example, this 2008 headline from National Geographic: “Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt.” Or this 2009 variation from the Huffington Post: “Dirt Poor Haitians Eat Mud Cookies to Survive.” Or, in a less formal take from a discussion forum: This is Really Sad!!!!!!! Haitians so hungry they eat dirt.

In truth, says the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), mud cakes, or what Haitians call “galette,” aren’t necessarily eaten as an act of desperation. True, they’re not quite a delicacy. But the spirit in which they’re consumed doesn’t quite line up with the sentiments conveyed by most headlines. The WFP does some myth-busting:

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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