A delicacy that is fast becoming our next protein source, eating insects such as crickets and worms isn’t for everybody, however, a Mopani worm company based in Gauteng, is changing this perspective by making them go mainstream.
Mopani worms are synonymous with Limpopo and are associated as the province’s delicacy and a popular snack in parts of South Africa.
Mopani Queens is a 100% black-owned female entomophagy (eating insects) company. The Citizen spoke to the founder Phuti Kabasa who said they provide alternative protein in the form of worms.
She started the business as a source of income for her family and grew into a passion as she realised how many people didn’t know much about Mopani worms including that it is an organic protein source.
“This inspiration for me, it was a challenge to see how many people I could convince to put the spice versions in their mouths.”
WATCH: How Mopani Queens makes their detectable snack worms
The Mopani bites come in different flavours, they are dried spiced Mopani worms that come in chutney, barbecue, peri-peri and tomato Mopani tortilla chips.
The reason for the call for eating insects is largely based on sustainability. Insects have a small carbon and water footprint.
Studies show that insect farming emits less carbon and methane gas than large livestock like cattle and pigs.
Much less water is needed to produce the same amount of protein. Insects feed more efficiently than other sources of animal protein. Farming them could be a new source of jobs and income.
There is also a growing number of people eating less meat, and eating bugs seem to be the next best option.
Kabasa is passionate about this subject, she is well informed as to why we need to start eating Mopani worms, and most importantly how much protein they have. She says the snack is part of our indigenous heritage.
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“It is a food choice that is enjoyed in the whole of SADC [Southern African Development Community], it is a food source that we as the human race need to turn towards now if we want to save our planet and eat sustainably. Edible insects are the future.”
The process of making Mopani Queen’s tortilla chips involves grounding down the Mopani worms into flour and then mixed with ingredients such as corn starch, maize meal and spices. They are then cut and fried. The tortilla chips are delicious, flavourful and crunchy, they would be great as a snack, or eaten with salsa and guacamole.
Kabasa hopes to see her business in food courts, “It must become a food choice for people, I should be able to walk into a shop and find it”.