Photo via Great Lakes
Malnutrition and iron deficiency are rampant problems in developing nations across Africa. They can lead to serious health issues and mortality, especially in young people. But a nutritionist in Nigeria has uncovered a remedy that could drastically improve extremely poor diets and help feed Africa's youth--a recipe for giant snail pies. More nutritious than beef, and far more abundant, giant snails could be the key ingredient to a healthier Africa. Oh yeah, and evidently they taste great.
The Giant Snail Diet
Ukpong Udofia of the University of Uyo recently completed her research on the nutritional content of the African Giant Snail, a resilient animal that has become a notorious invasive species around the world. The snail is incredibly common in swamps and forests of Africa, and is a popular novelty pet in the US.
But it's also rich in protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and many essential vitamins. According to Science Daily, Udofia's study compared the snail meat to a beef steak, and found the snail to be superior in every way. It's cheaper, more nutritious, and easier to obtain. Which means it could help address malnutrition in many more communities than beef, the typically pursued iron and protein source, ever could. It's evidently best eaten in a sort of simple-to-make pie.
That leaves one important factor up in the air: will anyone be able to stomach giant snail pies?
Giant Snail Pies--Better than Beef Steak?
Apparently, yes. Udofia administered a taste test--and people overwhelmingly preferred the snail pies to beef pies. From Science Daily:
Udofia and her research team baked pies of both varieties and asked young mothers and their children to try the tasty meal. Most of them preferred the taste and texture of the pies baked with the snail Archachatina marginata to those made with beef. The kids and their mothers judged the snail pies to have a better appearance, texture, and flavor.With that hurdle cleared, Udofia believes that she's found an important part of the solution in addressing malnourishment across Africa.
She says that the snail could be a major tool in fighting iron deficiency anemia, and is ideal because of its availability: "The land snail is a readily available and affordable source of animal protein, inhabits a lot of the green forest and swamps of most developing countries including Nigeria," Udofia says.
It's an ingenious solution, and one that's easier on the environment as well. In many places, there are already too many giant snails, and in others, efforts to cultivate them have been successful. Giant snails consume far less water and fewer resources than cows and other sources of protein, making them efficient to raise.
While it certainly has definite, inspiring potential for the hungry in Africa, it looks like we might all be better off if everyone traded in steaks for giant snail pies.
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