Earth‐eating is common among primary school children in Luoland, western Kenya. This article describes the social significance and meanings attributed to it. Earth‐eating is practised among children before puberty, irrespective of their sex, and among women of reproductive age, but not usually among adult men or old women. To eat earth signifies belonging to the female sphere within the household, which includes children up to adolescence. Through eating earth, or abandoning it, the children express their emerging gender identity. Discourses about earth‐eating, describing the practice as unhealthy and bad, draw on ‘modern’ notions of hygiene, which are imparted, for example, in school. They form part of the discursive strategies with which men especially maintain a dominant position in the community. Beyond the significance of earth‐eating in relation to age, gender and power, it relates to several larger cultural themes, namely fertility, belonging to a place, and the continuity of the lineage. Earth symbolises female, life‐bringing forces. Termite hills, earth from which is eaten by most of the children and women, can symbolise fertility, and represent the house and the home, and the graves of ancestors. Earth‐eating is a form of ‘communion’ with life‐giving forces and with the people with whom one shares land and origin. Earth‐eating is a social practice produced in complex interactions of body, mind and other people, through which children incorporate and embody social relations and cultural values.