Instead, the practice of soil eating is almost a worldwide phenomenon that is not limited to any particular age, group, race, sex, geographical region or historical time. While geophagy may not be common in today's Europeanised society, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the practice is widespread elsewhere with both benefits and problems to the participants. At one site in Nigeria, some 400-500 tons of clay are excavated annually for redistribution into the West African market system.
Geophagy remains a (largely) unrecognised and under-reported practice, which warrants more attention. Perhaps Mr Laufer was just ahead of his time?
PETER W. ABRAHAMS
Institute of Earth Studies
University of Wales