Why Black Women In The South Eat White Dirt; One Says She Lost 60 Pounds


downloadBy: Krystle Crossman

A new documentary is shedding some light on a highly unknown  tradition that may seem odd to some. The documentary is called “Eating White Dirt” and that is exactly what it is all about. A rock called kaolin is what white dirt really is and it is said to have medicinal properties for things such as dysentery, cholera, and diarrhea. It is also found in many different everyday items such as toothpaste, china, paper and paint.

Adam Forrester directed the documentary. He got the inspiration when he was grocery shopping and found small baggies of a white chalk that was for sale. He asked the clerk what it was and the clerk told him that people ate it so he decided that he wanted to investigate this a little further. Eating this dirt is known as geophagy.

Anthropoligists have a theory that this all started with slaves that were brought over to the US. Forrester interviewed women who lived in rural areas in the South and found that many of them ate the white dirt every day. One woman named Tammy Wright says that she eats it every day and she has lost over 60 pounds because of it.

Along with eating kaolin, it’s medicinal properties can be used by mixing it with water and applying it to the skin. This is done when they need a wet dressing applied. It can help to heal ulcers or pain in the mouth due to radiation treatments. It is also used in certain tests in labs that help to diagnose diseases.

There have been no observed side effects from eating kaolin or using it as a topical pain reliever although it may cause constipation in children. It should never be inhaled as severe lung problems may occur.



  1. Pregnant women eat that alot here (Kenya). They say it provides them with iron(the element), idk how true that is, but guys have some serious craving for the “stone” especially when on their periods too

  2. You are correct in the purpose of eating (chalk)- that white dirt as you called it were known as chalk in the 1960’s, it were used for many medicinal purposes. Back then we had Elder, Friends and Relatives in the Black community who were known as Fire Talkers, there purpose were to Talk the Fire out of a scald or burned part of your body. In the 1960’s many Blacks, did have the transportation as we do today to get to the Doctor’s Office or Hospitals, mostly had mules and wagons, so you would call over the nearest Fire Talker, once they talk the fire out of the part of your body that were scalded or burnt, they prayed over the burnt area, spit on the chalk also known as clay and wrapped the clay in a bandage and apply it to the burnt spot, this would heal the burn, as well as restore the right pigment back to your skin. In 1959, my mother had this done to my burnt left hand as a child, and it worked like a miracle.

  3. When pregnant with my first child, I ate a lot of dirt, loved the taste and smell of it but it was not White dirt, it was right outside my back door in the yard and I wanted it most when it sprinkled for the smell of it just drove me crazy. My neighbor use to laugh at me when she saw me outside with my spoon. Was that not crazy or what??

    • Ann, we my brother’s and I were young. We ate red clay dirt. That was on the dirt road we grew up on in North Carolina. You are not weird at all. Or crazy. We all have done crazy things. Lol.

  4. Wow!This sounds all too familiar to me.When I was pregnant with my kids, I would go outside after a fresh sprinkle of rain and get some dirt to eat.For whatever reason,the dirt smelled so good to me, but I would always clean my dirt first.Many, many years ago, one of my aunts, and my mom too, would eat clay. We lived right at the Georgia-Florida line, so they would go over into Georgia to get their clay, and put it in paper bags. From what I know, when women crave dirt and clay, it is indicative of a lack of iron in the body.For me that’s what it was, and come to find out, because I have Lupus, the Lupus was causing me to be anemic.After getting an iron infusion treatment about a year and a half ago, I don’t crave the dirt and clay like I used to.One doctor tried to tell me that my lack of iron was nutritional, but I knew that was not the case.

  5. I was born in the deep south and I remember after migrating North, one of my aunts would have dirt imported to her from the South. As a toddler, I would eat it along with her and developed a dirt Jones that lasted until weaned myself off of it in my 30’s! When I could not get dirt, I ate Argo starch!

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