“We like insects here”: entomophagy and society in a Zambian village

Agriculture and Human Values 35 (4):867-883 (2018)

Abstract
Entomophagy—the practice of eating insects—has been touted as a means to combat undernutrition and food insecurity globally. Insects offer a nutritious, environmentally friendly alternative to resource-intensive livestock. But the benefits of edible insects cannot be realized if people do not choose to eat them. We therefore examine the social acceptability of edible insects in rural Zambia, where entomophagy is common but underexplored. Through a village case study, we show that edible insects are not valued equally, are understood socially, and seem to reflect and reinforce social values. We utilize grounded theory and ethnographic methods, including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observation to examine collective entomophagy beliefs. While we expected to see differentiation in perceptions across groups based on kinship, we demonstrate that social values related to class, urbanism, gender, and age emerge as more germane explanations for entomophagy perceptions, reflecting their social weight. By expanding on current apperception of entomophagy behavior, our findings inform future research and efforts to promote entomophagy through minilivestock farming. Systems designed to maximize output, minimize labor, and highlight benefits are more likely to be widely accepted. We do not anticipate tribal association will be the primary limitation on minilivestock adoption in this context.
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DOI 10.1007/s10460-018-9878-0
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