Grubs a delicacy full of nutrients; various spices enhance their flavour

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Grubs, which are the larvae of moths and beetles, are a prized delicacy in Vizag Agency.

Visakhapatnam: We spray insecticides when we spot grubs on our lawns or potted plants for fear they may multiply and eat away the greenery. But what is loathed by many are food for some.

Grubs, which are the larvae of moths and beetles, are a prized delicacy in Vizag Agency. In local parlance they’re called ‘Bodengalu’ or ‘Agency Prawns’. They live in tree trunks or plant roots, especially in palm trees. These grubs are cooked using various spices to enhance their flavour and eaten.

The grubs, for long a traditional food item here and in several countries, are now a hit in the West due to the nutrition and proteins they contain. These edible insects are laced with chocolate and other delicious flavors and sold as energy bars in western countries.

Those who have savoured them, praise their subtle flavour. “These ‘Bodengalu’ are really delicious. They taste like mashed eggs when eaten. I make it a point to eat them whenever I visit Vizag Agency if they are available. Unfortunately, nobody cooks these grubs over here. This is another ‘indigenous delicacy’ which we can say is confined to, and is the treasure of the Vizag Agency,” said tribal rights activist Ganjivarapu Srinivas.

While there are considerable studies conducted on edible insects, there is not much research carried out on grubs. A 2013 report of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisa-tion on edible insects, ‘Future prospects for food and feed security’, pointed that edible insects like beetles, caterpillars and wasps could supplement diets as an environmentally-friendly food source.

Recently, a study was conducted at La Trobe University in Wodonga, Australia, by Conrad Bilney exclusively on grubs. He observed that these grubs are not only delicious, but an incredibly important source of nutrition for the indigenous Australians who live in desert-like areas, where energy-rich foods are scarce.

“People in several parts of the world eat insects, especially tribals. They consume insects available in their surroundings. Unlike us, they choose food by their instincts but without the modern food information we have access to”.

According to current studies, these edible insects are rich in proteins and fats.
“I’m curious to know, if these are special types of proteins and fats or special nutrients which are beneficial for people living in these areas. A research on these grubs to establish this is needed,” said Vizag-based American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) certified health coach, Sangeeta Muddapu.

Entomophagy should be given due worth
‘Entomophagy’ is the consumption of insects and has been practiced in India for ages by several tribes. Research and study by nutritionists and zoologists has found that entomophagy needs to be revitalised and promoted with rising food scarcity each day.

Jharna Chakravorty of Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory in the department of zoology at Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh, in a research paper said the most preferred edible insects would be those high in nutritional content that can be reared or cultivated in home gardens with the application of modern tools and techniques and then sold to people. He considers these insects as ‘delicacies’.

“There’s scope to raise the commercial value as food and feed for livestock, especially chicken and have availability on demand in a sustainable manner,” he said.

“In the long run, this may serve the twin purpose of insect use as both food and conservation. The support of the still-existing ‘entomophagy’ in this country and perhaps reviving some entomophagic practices have to be seen as actions that will benefit the nation,” he said in a paper, ‘Diversity of Edible Insects and Practices of Entomophagy in India: An Overview’.

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