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Not Enough Dirt to Go Around

News of the Weird has a depressing economics story this week about food prices in the poorer sections of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which is perhaps the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

The price of rice, the staple product, has doubled in the last year. This increase naturally has residents looking for substitutes for rice.

Apparently in the past they have baked “dirt cookies,” using salt and vegetable shortening along with clay from a nearby area. The clay has some nutrients in it, so it is not entirely filler. The problem, though, is that the supply curve of clay is not horizontal; so with this increased demand for the clay, its price has risen too — by 40 percent during the same period. One might say that the dirt is no longer dirt-cheap!