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"I am one of the gorons, the stone-eating people who live on Death Mountain."

Remember that old joke about two people deciding which restaurant to go to?

 Alice: I know a place where we can eat dirt cheap.

Bob: But who wants to eat dirt?

Well, these guys do, apparently.

There's a tendency in fantasy to have certain species or characters, especially stone-based ones, eat earthen materials. Often, this extends to having their entire diet consists of these things, and they're unable to digest pure organic matter. Analogies to actual human food may be drawn as well: nitrogen-rich soil may be especially tasty, for instance. Gemstones may be considered rare delicacies or quartz may clog arteries.

How they get their nutrition from eating such materials is never explained, but presumably, if they're different enough to find rocks tasty, their nutritional needs are far different from ours.

Examples of Eat Dirt Cheap include:


Anime

  • Monster Rancher Golem eats rocks like food, and consume sand like beverage.

Film

Literature

  • Rockbiter the stone giant in The Neverending Story.
  • The dwarves from Artemis Fowl.
    • Though they'll also eat clay, insects, and the occasional rabbit. Gemstones, diamonds in particular, can cause severe intestinal blockage, so they avoid those.
  • The walking trees in The Chronicles of Narnia. It even mentions a trees' feast with different courses.
  • The trolls in Discworld. And yes, it is possible for them to complain about the food.

Live Action Television

  • The Horta from Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • In Prehistoric Park, much to the annoyance of the park staff, Titanosaurs are able to consume whole trees and thatched huts, but they prefer rocks. Justified in that the rocks allow their digestive system to crush the massive quantities of fibre they consume, easing indigestion; they can't dig except by uprooting trees, so finding an appetizing rock is not as easy as one might expect.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons monsters
    • Gold dragons eat gems and jewels.
      • Actually, al metallic dragons like eating some types of gems, and (at least according to the 3.5 Draconomicon) all true dragons can subsist off of stone and earth, although most prefer meat to dirt.
    • Khargra eat high-grade ores.
    • Xorn (and their cousins the xaren) feed on rare minerals. In module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth they ate crystals and gems.
    • There is a titanic, worm-like Eldritch Abomination that eats soil and stone Beneath the Earth and which excreta shatters psyche just by being near it. It's revered by the Aboleths.
    • The aurumvorax, an eight-legged wolverine-like animal that eats metals and ores, but has a special affinity for gold.
    • According to Spelljammer, this is actually the natural diet of tarrasques. The more familiar all-devouring, all-destroying monsters are all just homicidally insane -- most planetary atmospheres don't agree with them.

Video Games

  • Gorons in The Legend of Zelda series have been mentioned to eat mostly rocks; one Goron describes his race as the "stone-eating people from the mountain." But they don't just eat any rocks (they're stated to be starving while living in a giant cavern, after all), they can only eat the rocks in the neighboring dungeon. Presumably these guys are connoisseurs.
    • Yes, actually. One Goron says they've become such gourmets that other rocks may as well turn to ash in their mouths, for all the satisfaction they get from eating them.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Geodude evolutionary line and many other rock types eat rocks and soil.
    • Sableye eats gems.
    • Larvitar. According to the Pokédex, it won't evolve into Pupitar until after it's consumed a mountain's worth of soil.
    • Aron and its relatives eat iron, which makes them a nuisance to railroads. Nosepass apparently uses its magnetism to attract its prey to it, which suggests that it eats mineral-based creatures.
  • In Master of Orion, the Silicoids and custom Lithovore races.
  • Final Fantasy I had a talking stone giant blocking the path to get to the Earth Cave. He wants a tasty ruby to munch on.
  • The Licensed Game of Blazing Dragons had the title characters eating various gems. Flicker also has to eat a piece of coal to gain his fire breath ability for a moment.

Western Animation

  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Spike is an Extreme Omnivore, but seems to prefer gemstones over anything else (luckily for him, gems in that universe are extremely common and, with a few exceptions, are less valuable than fool's gold). The gemstones thing appears to extend to other dragons in the series as well.
  • Shows up in Futurama. After Lrrr[1] accidentally conquers Earth the next thing we see is the main cast sentenced to the mines to supply his wife with gemstones to eat.

Real Life

  • Earthworms. However, they don't actually get nourishment from eating dirt, it's just how they travel. What they eat is decaying organic material.
  • There's a disorder known as Pica that causes people to crave and eat things that aren't normal food; often, this is dirt or rocks.
  • Many animals have stomach-like organs known as gizzards, which lack the powerful acids that true stomachs have to break down food. For this reason, many creatures with gizzards swallow stones (known as gastroliths) to help crush the food in the gizzard.
  • Certain minerals of a "stone-like" nature can be consumed for medicinal purposes in Chinese herbal medicine, but only in small dosages which are boiled for hours. One such mineral, Gypsum (or, in TCM: Shi Gao), can notably be purchased in large quantities from the Home Depot, as it is mostly used as drywall.
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