Soaring Food Prices Force the Poor to Literally Eat Mud

In Haiti, people are eating mud.

We’re not making this up. There’s a photo of a miserable woman making mud cakes in Port-au-Prince, in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

For the benefit of readers who wish to cut their food budgets, the Telegraph gives us the recipe: you simply mix clay with salt and vegetable fat and lay it out in the sun to cook – like mud pies. Then, you call them “biscuits.”

Last time we looked, mud was not one of the main food groups recommended by dieticians. But all over the world, poor people have to make do with what they can find. Rice is the staple food in Haiti, and it’s trebled in price in the last year, says the Telegraph . Other grains are not far behind. Since January of 2007, wheat has gone up 200% and corn 150%.

Desperate poor have already rioted in 34 countries this year. The ghost of Thomas Malthus, if he bothers to read the paper, must be saying, “I told you so.” Malthus predicted that population would grow faster than food supplies. Millions of people would starve, he predicted. Now, it looks like he might have been too optimistic. He died in 1834. Since then, a series of happy events and technological developments greatly increased the supply of food…while war and family planning reduced the number of mouths to be fed. Now, it appears that the gains from mechanization, bioengineering, chemistry and land clearing may have reached their limits. We may soon reach “Peak Food”…the point at which the world can produce no more food. But the human population – especially the part of it that doesn’t eat at the Tour d’Argent in Paris – keeps growing. Experts predict that the world’s population will grow by 3 billion people over the next 40 years – a 50% increase. Where will the world get 50% more food? At what price? Who knows…but one thing is sure: there will be plenty of opportunities for the world-improvers to make things worse.

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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5 Comments on "Soaring Food Prices Force the Poor to Literally Eat Mud"

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nic meredith

I would argue that Inflation in money supply is the main factor here……thats why the prices are going up.
Especially food.
I believe in Australia we use more resources in our suburban gardens than the entire commercial agricultural sector.


Food is going to have to compete with energy production for biofuels, so land with water is precious.
I suspect we may not see the extra 3 billion by 2050 as crops depend on fuel (tractors and fertiliser production)

Just wait till the governments of Australia make consumers and farmers pay the commercial price of water which includes the scarcity and environmental costs. The flow on (pardon the pun) effects will be tremendous. Food, power (power stations pay nics for their water at the moment), everything will increase just because they will be charging a commercial rate of return on water infrastructure. Add to this carbon taxes that are yet to come in and things are going to get ugly. Time to get self sufficient or establish communal set ups. We have to consume less of everything. Having worked… Read more »
Unpopular Truth
I assume you’re familiar with the idea of necessity being the mother of invention? Food tech has improved in the past, so there’s no reason to think that given higher prices, there will be even more incentive to improve technology now than ever. It’ll either be in farming (quality, waste reduction, land/water use, etc), in machinery (more efficient harvesting, land maintenance so you dont ruin soil, etc) or storage (we have a big harvest this year, we can store it for 5 years rather than 1). Basically, stop scare mongering. 99% of the time any country that has famine is… Read more »
Mr. Eugenicists, May I suggest that we the people start using the land upon which the empty shopping malls and factories now occupy for growing food? But only if Agri business doesn’t mind. Close to my house is a brand new shopping mall built upon 192 acres of pristine farm land, and we already have plenty of Wal-Marts, and dollar stores now. Peak food is a disgusting scare tactic for brain washing people to accept a carbon tax and depopulation tactics used by the elite class when the peasantry is no longer useful. Your politically Fascist point of view disgusts… Read more »
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