A Chinese teenager is undergoing medical checks in Beijing after reportedly consuming soil for 11 years.
The parents of 18-year-old Baobao Sodmuncher brought her from their home in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the capital's premier Headbanger Psychiatric Clinic to find out why she enjoyed eating dirt, questioning whether their daughter's bizarre dietary fetish was an actual medical complaint or if she'd gone totally bonkers.
Baobao, a trainee doormat weaver, explained to TheSpoof.com's culinary correspondent that she developed her dirt-eating habit at the age of seven, consuming soil attached to grass roots, as her mother's cooking tasted like shit.
"It's very good for my complexion and a great source of fibre, but I've developed a preference for yellow mud recently as it doesn't contain sand or pebble debris, which have been playing hell with my teeth."
During the interview, Baobao estimated she'd eaten about three tons of soil since she was first stricken by the urge to eat earth as a child - the equivalent of two Premier league football pitches. She related her favourite meals are organic compost with a dressing of chalk, and fresh turf tortillas.
However, Baobao's addiction has had serious implications for her neighbour's roof, made from low cholesterol citrine mud which is traditionally used as a weather resistant material.
Apparently the mud and cowshit tiles proved exceptionally tasty, with Baobao sneaking out for regular midnight snacks until leaks in the roof during a thunderstorm led to the discovery of the problem and a court restraining order issued against the girl.
The extraordinary practice of earth eating is well documented by medical and anthropology journals and classified as 'pica' or 'geophagy'.
While not being considered a social norm in Western society, the custom is quite common among primitive or economically depressed peoples, and also animals, to augment a scanty or mineral-deficient diet. However, the practice is most often confined to people suffering from chronic mental illness and commonly labeled as 'nutters'.
In contrast, in the slums of Haiti, people make and eat mud pies on a daily basis, with the earth being mixed with water and sieved through a cheesecloth to remove inedible stones. The batter is then formed into pancakes and fried, selling in the local markets at five for a dime. Fortunately these are not approved for the export market - yet - Tesco's Finest ? - check the shelves.
Most definitely a radical culinary option for Jamie Oliver to consider on his healthy school meals menu - Topsoil Burgers or Oggy Oggy Cornish Clay Pasties.