Due to recent interest in local indigenous crops and dishes, I am updating and reposting this and several other blogs.
In the last blog, I noted that Westerners, on the whole, seem to have an aversion to eating insects. But as Maria noted, snails played an important role in keeping folks fed during World War II. And of course, both snails and frogs legs are popular in France.
Throughout Africa, there are a variety of insects eaten – locusts and termites being especially popular. Below is a trap that is made for catching flying ants, as they fly out of their underground homes, which is generally at some point during the rainy season. In some areas of Burundi, this is an income generating activity for part of the year; the insects are fried and sold on to markets as well as being consumed at home; they are crunchy and quite tasty with a bit of salt.
Certain kinds of grubs are also collected, from manure heaps and other soil-rich areas. These are eaten by the collectors as well as being sold on.
A wide variety of plants are collected and eaten, as well as fruits. Again, some are famine foods but others are regularly consumed – such as a wild species of lenga-lenga (amaranth), which is found in more arid regions of eastern Burundi. Domesticated lenga-lenga is much more mild in taste and requires more water to grow.
Below is a picture of domesticated lenga-lenga patches in the village, where especially women, youth and old folks are commonly found raising them as a minor source of income:
Here is a dish with lenga-lenga that I cooked a while back.
In the training that I conduct with NGOs I like to give an exercise in which the teams being trained spend a day or two going out with villagers to collect wild plants and fruits, noting the kind of soils where they are found, who collects them. season, who eats them, if there are any use rights in their collection, whether they are sold or how they are processed.
It is always a surprise to the trainees in learning how many are identified. We then discuss ways they may be promoted, whether any could be grown – and how they could be protected in the natural habitat.
- Animal Care and Health in the Tropics (dianabuja.wordpress.com)
- 20 Creepy-Crawly Insect Captures – From Electrified Bees to Slow Motion Snail Photography (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Insects: Our Next Food Craze? (newser.com)
- Scorpions, crickets and bees: the creepy crawly taste test (telegraph.co.uk)
- EU investigates the nutritional value of insects (newslite.tv)