By Yifat Susskind
Real Women, Real Voices
Last week, leaders of the world’s richest countries, the Group of Eight (G8), met to chart the course of the global economy at the luxurious Windsor Hotel Toya Resort and Spa in Toyako, Japan. While President Bush and his colleagues discussed world hunger over a six-course lunch, women in Haiti were preparing cakes of dirt for their children’s dinner.
Eating dirt, mixed with salt and vegetable shortening, is the latest coping strategy of Haitian mothers trying to quiet hungry children in a year when the cost of rice (Haiti’s staple food) has risen nearly 150 percent.
Ironically, many of these women were once rice farmers themselves. But in the 1980s, U.S.-grown rice began pouring into Haiti. Thanks to federal subsidies, the imported rice was sold for less than what it cost to grow it. Haitian farmers just couldn’t compete.
Neither could millions of other farmers around the world, who have been bankrupted by the influx of rice, corn, and wheat from the U.S., Europe and Japan. These farmers have gone from growing their own food and feeding their countries to having to buy food that’s priced on a global market. Now that these commodity markets have spiked, millions of more families cannot afford to eat.
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