How bad are things in Haiti?

Haiti is poor; we all know that. But just how bad are things?

Rising food prices have forced some residents of the poorest slums in Port-au-Prince to eat “cookies” made primarily of a dried yellow mud. Traditionally, pregnant women and children have eaten the cookies as an antacid and for calcium, but now some residents have, out of desperation, turned the mud cookies into regular meals.

The consumption of dirt and mud for sustenance actually has a name– geophagy– and it is becoming increasingly common in the slums of Haiti, the least developed country in the Americas.

The cookies are made by mixing edible mud with shortening and salt, then leaving them out in the sun to dry. Surprisingly, the mud is not “dirt” cheap– it costs about $5 for enough to make 100 cookies.

The AP has the scoop on how the cookies taste: “[I]t had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.”

It just doesn’t get much sadder than this.

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(Thanks goes out to Gadling blogger Kent Wien for snapping the shots above)