Saturday, September 07, 2013


Can eating snails solve the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and other third world countries? Researchers are optimistic that these common mollusks could provide much needed nutrition to people living in developing countries where inexpensive sources of protein are hard to come by. According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health snails may actually be superior to beef in terms of nutritional value, taste acceptability, and cost. Eating Snails: A Solution to World Hunger? To test the feasibility of snails as a source of nutrition in developing countries like Nigeria, researchers baked snail pies and offered them to young mothers and children living in Nigeria. To their surprise, most of the children as well as their moms preferred the taste and texture of the snail pie over a pie made with beef. This is good news since snails are a readily available source of nutrition that can be easily collected and prepared as food. No farmland is required to raise them and large pools of labor aren’t needed to collect them and turn them into meals. Is Eating Snails Nutritious? Snails are surprisingly nutritious – high in protein and low in saturated fat. One ounce of snail has five grams of protein and is an excellent source of essential fatty acids. They’re also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin K, magnesium, iron, and selenium. There’s a Precedent for Eating Snails Eating snails has been a culinary custom for thousands of years and is a delicacy in many Asian countries. In France cooked snails are referred to as escargot and served as a gourmet appetizer. To prepare them, the snails are removed from their shells, cooked, and placed back into shells along with garlic, hot butter, or sauce. They’re then eaten with a special snail fork.   The Dangers of Eating Snails Even if this sounds appealing, don’t be too quick to try eating snails or slugs out of your own garden. In Australia, a man was diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis after eating two slugs from his garden. The man survived, but was unable to return to his normal activities for five months after this culinary experience gone awry. Snails and slugs can be infected with a parasite known as A. Cantonensis which can cause a rare form of meningitis called eosinophilic meningitis if ingested. Don’t let this unfortunate experience happen to you. If eating snails appeals to you, at least make sure they’re well cooked.