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

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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Abbreviations

FGD:

Focus group discussion

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Acknowledgements

The authors extend special thanks to the Kazoka community for their willingness to participate in this study. We are grateful to Dr. Claire Wendland for her support and useful observations on earlier drafts of this paper. We also appreciate the very helpful comments from the two reviewers. The paper is much stronger thanks to your input. This work was supported by Fulbright US Student Award.

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Correspondence to Valerie J. Stull.

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Stull, V.J., Wamulume, M., Mwalukanga, M.I. et al. “We like insects here”: entomophagy and society in a Zambian village. Agric Hum Values 35, 867–883 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-018-9878-0

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Keywords

  • Entomophagy
  • Food security
  • Food sovereignty
  • Edible insects
  • Minilivestock
  • Zambia