With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.
Charlene, 16 , with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
Cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal for her, according to this report .
At the market , two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.
Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies , they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun. The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.
"I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me." said Charlene .
About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.