Haiti; The poorest country in the western hemisphere, is beyond the human imagination of suffering. Most of the nationals of the country live in extreme poverty and the average annual per ca-pita income ranges from 350 USD-409 USD. Ever since the prices soared up and the 2010 earth quake, the preferred dietary choices of its nationals changed unfavorably.
Mud cakes or the Gallete “Bon Bon teres” is becoming the food choice of majority of the Haitians who earn 1-2 USD for a day. Extreme poverty, an unstable government and deplorable condition of the country has forced Haitians to resort to the centuries old tradition of eating “Mud cakes”.
The Mud cakes are made of vegetable Oil, Salt and dirt. Initially, the mud is spread out on the ground and allowed to dry. The Mud cakes remain the only source of income for many families. However, the ladies who make these mud cakes, the recipe of which goes back to centuries, believe the Haitian clay used to prepare these mud cakes contain the basic nutrients like Vitamins and minerals.
Since there is no other alternative to the starvation, the mud becomes the staple of the poor in this Carribean country. The minimal nutritional properties in the clay helps them to stay alive but opens Pandora’s box for many medical diseases.
Geophagia is the process of eating substances from the earth and in this case , Mud cakes. This practice goes back thousands of years and was practiced to suppress hunger and in some cases pleasure. Even in countries like USA, the custom of eating clay-rich dirt has been practiced by both White and Black for generations.
Though Clay is reported to have benefits and protects human body from Toxins,parasites,pathogens; minerals like Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc are beneficial to Humans, many experts believe that consuming dirt or dirt made cakes will expose Haitians to various diseases.
The clay is often contaminated by Human and animal feces, in particular Helminth eggs, such as Ascaris can stay viable in the soil for years which can lead to Helminth infection. Other dangers include Tetanus, Lead poisoning and zinc exposure pose a serious threat to those who consume the clay to satisfy their hunger or are suffering from medical complications which result in the consummation of the clay.
But, with no options left on the table for Haitians and extreme poverty breaking the back of its Nationals, Haitians are left to fend for themselves. This remains to see as how long the elite class will be talking poverty in their social clubs than actually going out there and lending a helping hand to those in need?. As of now, Haitians have to fend for themselves by any means possible.