Craving Earth Understanding Pica - The Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk

ISBN-10: 0231146094

ISBN-13: 9780231146098

Edition: 2012

Authors: Sera L. Young

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Humans have eaten earth, on purpose, for more than 2,300 years. They also crave starch, ice, chalk, and other unorthodox items of food. Some even claim they are addicted and "go crazy" without these items, but why?Sifting through extensive historical, ethnographic, and biomedical findings, Sera Young creates a portrait of pica, or nonfood cravings, from humans' earliest ingestions to current trends and practices. In engaging detail, she describes the substances most frequently consumed and the many methods (including the Internet) used to obtain them. She reveals how pica is remarkably prevalent (it occurs in nearly every human culture and throughout the animal kingdom), identifies its most avid partakers (pregnant women and young children), and describes the potentially healthful and harmful effects. She evaluates the many hypotheses about the causes of pica, from the fantastical to the scientific, including hunger, nutritional deficiencies, and protective capacities. Never has a book examined pica so thoroughly or accessibly, merging absorbing history with intimate case studies to illuminate an enigmatic behavior deeply entwined with human biology and culture.
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Book details

List price: $20.95
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 9/14/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 240
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.748

List of Illustrations
All About Pica
What on Earth?
The Pica Substances
"A devouring passion"
Who Does Pica?
But Why?
A Biocultural Approach: A Holistic Way to Study Pica
The Biocultural Perspective
Pica Data in This Book
Medicine You Can Walk On
The Amazing Properties of Clays
Early Pharmacopeia
Modern Medicine
Religious Geophagy: Sacredness You Can Swallow
Poisons and Pathogens
Heavy Metal Poisoning
Other Physical Damage
But Why?
Dismissal and Damnation: A Historical Perspective on the Purported Causes of Pica
"The natives"
"The weaker sex"
The Mentally Disturbed
Concealment of Pica Today
Establishing Accurate Estimates of Pica Behavior
Pica in Response to Food Shortage
Earth as a Famine Food
Testing the Hunger Hypothesis
Pica as a Micronutrient Supplement
Testing the Micronutrient Supplement Hypothesis
Could Pica Cause a Micronutrient Deficiency?
Pica to Protect and Detoxify
Toxins and Pathogens
The Protective Capacity of Clays
Testing the Protection Hypothesis
Putting the Pica Pieces Together
What We Know
What We Don't Know
Why We Need to Know It
Notable Moments in the History of Pica
Prevalence of Pica Among Representative Populations of Pregnant Women
Prevalence of Pica Among Representative Populations of Children
Pica in Literature
Association Between Pica and Iron Deficiency and/or Anemia in Cross-Sectional Studies
Association Between Pica with Zinc Deficiency in Cross-Sectional Studies
Works Cited
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