Medicine: Why People Eat Dirt

Many a homesick or sardonic Northern Negro, writing to Southern friends, says "Ship me a bag of good dirt to eat." Sometimes he means it. Even in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, Negroes and whites send requests to their upcountry friends for a bit of red clay, declaring that black Delta soil is "right bad eating." In certain parts of Mississippi, poor whites will walk miles for a spoonful of dirt from a favorite bank of clay, because it "tastes sour, like a lemon." In other sections of the South, some top their meals with a savory tablespoon of dirt, believing that it...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!