Yes, you read it right. Cookies made from mud are real. Terrifyingly real. Humans eat to survive. With thousands of years of evolution, wars, and famine, humanity has always found ways to create food from not so ordinary sources.
For example, agricultural communities have created foodstuff from some pests and rodents. Pirates, pioneers, and warriors among others have boiled leather so they could eat it when real food is hard to come by. These, among other examples of “crazy” food, are a proof that crisis is the mother of invention—or in this case, the mother of food.
But there are forms of food that are quite disturbing, not so much because of their ingredients, but because of the origin and glaring social realities that they reflect. Mud cookies are one such thing.
When we first encountered it in college, we sometimes called it “Lupa Cookies” because they were literally made from soil (lupa) or edible clay. It’s one of those “famine foods” in Haiti.
Haiti is a Latin American country located in the picturesque Carribean. It used to be a former colony of the French. As an underdeveloped country, Haiti is described “as an impoverished country without a stable government, a country where nearly 3 million people don’t have enough to eat. Hunger is becoming a serious issue. While the wealthiest 10 percent of Haitians earn 70 percent of the nation’s total income, most Haitians live on only $1 or $2 or less per day.”
The existence of mud cookies reflects the problem of Hidden Hunger. To put simply, hidden hunger means there is food to fill the stomach but it lacks the proper nutrients that the body needs. Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency are conditions used to describe this.
So how does mud cookies work?
Mud cookies or “Bon bon terres” as Haitians call them are a mixture of dirt clay, vegetable oil, and salt for taste. After “mixing the “batter” by combining dirt with water, the cookies are formed on the ground and allowed to dry in the sun.”
Eating mud cookies have negative effects on those who eat them. Health-wise, mud cookies have no nutritional benefits and the overall cleanliness of the food is already jeopardized.
In the Philippines, an example of hidden hunger is the notorious consumption of noodles of poor families. Noodles are filling and cheap. In Eugene Domingo’s “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank”, she shows how the usual noodle meal is prepared by putting one pack of noodles and drowning it in a disproportionate volume of water. It’s a dismal meal with no health benefits. It exists to fill the stomach but not nourish the body.
Food sufficiency and malnutrition are perennial problems faced by underdeveloped and developing countries like the Philippines. And as of 2017, an estimated 7 million Filipino children suffer from hunger and malnutrition.