normal but actually beneficial to consume certain kinds of earth. In
Africa and other places, pregnant women regularly eat special kinds
of earth, and in some cultures clay is mixed with bread or other
foods as an extender.
The practice of earth-eating, also called geophagy [jee-OFF-uh-jee]
has been alive for millennia. There are three main reasons for it.
First, certain kinds of clay can provide mineral nutrients not easily
available elsewhere (which is why it is often eaten by pregnant
women). Second, some types of mineral earth are able to absorb
toxins that would otherwise poison us. Third, soft mineral clay is a
harmless, bulky filler that can extend bread and other staple foods
during times of famine.