Entomophagy in Japan.

I have a habit to ear insects, which is kinds of bee itself, and its brood. In my countries, there are some areas where people have a habit of eating insects. These are mainly mountain regions, basin areas and few of upper river sides. The reason why it becomes familiar with entomophagy in those areas is that it was difficult to get seafood in those areas, unlike the sea side areas. Insects were the significant diet to get nutrition, especially as a protein source because people rarely have meat in my countries in the past. In the ancient era, the emperor restricted to having meats especially beef, chicken, and horse. Then, seafood and beans were the main sources of protein and other nutrition. Indeed, the regions which have entomophagy are in the inside prefecture. The main insects for food are the bee and its broad and locust. The bee, which is ‘Vespinae’, because that species contain much more nutrition than other species (see Figure.1). Finke (2005) explained that a bee brood contains moisture, protein, fat, fiber, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins (especially the B-vitamins and C-vitamins). In addition, it also has a high quality of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and the trace minerals iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Such an entomophagy as the protein source is seen in the other countries, such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

heboFigure 1: The Vespinae (red circle) is major species for food.


How to catch the bees.

My grandfather has been interested in the bee, and he sometimes goes to mountain area to take nests of Vespinae. In the area of my hometown, eating bee is famous, and there is kind of club activities about bees. My grandfather participated in snestuch activities, and I have heard about some of their activities. For example, they competitive the sides of honeycomb which they took (see Figure.2), and researched the ecology of bees and how to grow beehives. The way take honeycomb of Vespinae is drawn on traditional formula. Firstly, they should find the comb to mark a sign on the bee. What the way is that tied the small cotton on the piece of chicken or fish (but people used flogs in the past.), and give a worker bee the sign to carry. Then, they try to                      Figure 2: The honeycombs of Vespinae   follow that bee because worker bees                                                                                                     never release a food until it reaches their comb. After finding the comb, people dig out the comb, but they need to make bees enfeeble using smoke. In this way, getting honeycomb is hard. Therefore, they have been tried to grow combs by themselves by examining to construct the case of beehives. In recently, the number of bees and its combs have been decreased due to the climate change. Then, that bees and bee broods are hard to get and becoming valuable things, and growing beehives might be crucial for inheriting this habit.


Benefits of Entomophagy

Nowadays, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) encourage the entomophagy as one of the measures for food security. FAO reported that several advantages to utilizing insects as food and feed (FAO, 2016).

  • Environmental Benefits:  The ‘feed conversion efficiency’ is high because insects are cold-blooded. It is needed to feed 8kg for cattle to produce a 1kg of its body meet, while insects require only 2kg of feed   to produce insects mass.
  • Health Benefits:   The insects contain lots of high-quality protein and rich nutrition compared with meat    and fish. In addition, it has a low risk of diseases comes from animals such as H1N1 (bird    flu) and BSE (mad cow disease).
  • Livelihood and Social Benefits:  Correcting insects and making a living by it are possible to do for women and low-income people because it is not required to own their particular land. In addition, those insects are utilized for creating employment by culturing and manufacturing.

In the present circumstances, the areas having entomophagy and quantities of insects for food are limited. However, for promoting the entomophagy as s global policy, FAO supposed that they need to examine expanding the cultivation (FAO, 2016). Due to the corroboration of the modern science and traditional knowledge, it might possible to promote supplying insects as a food efficiently. They also mentioned that it is possible to secure the food without compromise the environment.


How to promote Entomophagy?

The most significant concern is the image of insects for encouraging entomophagy. Even though entomophagy is traditional culture, lots of people have a negative image for eating insects because of its shape and cautious against toxic. Indeed, I cannot eat other insects despite I usually eat bees and its brood. I do not have a negative image for having bee because I had started eating them since I was a child which is before I have the particular image for bees. I found the research that clearly understanding the mentality against eating insects by using a PAC analysis, which is a physiological interview technique (Yoshimura, Sekiguchi and Uchiyama, 2011). The research team identified several indicators of the mentality for entomophagy. It is not only people have a negative image, but also some people think it is something entertainment, for example. In the result, they concluded that there are several approaches. One of their suggestion is the scientific approach, which is researching their nutrition and supposing insects as major food for the future. In addition, promoting it as an ‘entertainment’ because there are some areas and people that entomophagy is not familiar with. In resent year, some of food companies are considering and contriving how to promote entomophagy. They produce their particular snacks containing powder of insects and itself.


Having bee as a dishes is kind of home cooking food for my home town. Therefore, actually, entomophagy is familiar for me and I thought it is traditional food in rural areas. However, it is a new style and entertainment for people who do not have a habit of entomophagy. In addition, I understand there is great potential to promote entomophagy, such as for measurement of food security.


 Reference:                                                                                                                                              FAO (2016). To food security, livelihoods and the environment, Insects for food and feed,    Available from http://www.fao.org/edible-insects/en/