Strength of Cravings

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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To say that geophagists “eat earth” does not convey the often imperative nature of their drive. In fact, the desire for pica substances is so overwhelming that the strength of these cravings has been equated with those for tobacco, alcohol, and drugs for hundreds of years. Today, in online discussion groups about pica, people regularly use terms and phrases such as “addiction,” “getting clean,” and “staying off the stuff.” See addiction.

Compelled by these cravings, people go to extreme lengths to eat the earth that their hearts desire. They may be secretive about the whereabouts of their clay pit, walk many miles to the site with “good dirt,” tussle with the cattle who are also eating “their” clay, and hide their behavior from family members.