1. Health & Lifestyle

Fresh Water snails: A Perfect food source packed with all kinds of nutrients

Prity Barman
Prity Barman
Healthy Food

Fresh water snails have traditionally been used by people as a means of food. A land snail, Iberus alonensis, from Benidorm, Spain, has the earliest record of using snails as food, dating back to the late Pleistocene and Holocene ages.

As a human food source, there have been records of snail farming in Europe since Roman times, and in South Asian nations during World War II.

Actually, in many European countries, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, as well as Latin America, Asia and Africa, snails are considered a delicacy.

Snail caviar is an item of luxury food that has seen rising demand in Europe. The words used for snail farming are Heliculture or Heliciculture, mainly for the consumption of flesh and eggs and for the use of slime for cosmetic purposes.

Fresh water snails consumption in India:

Wild species of freshwater snails and calms are widely harvested in underdeveloped nations and eaten by economically and socially challenged societies as a cheap source of protein. India has a tradition of tribal groups eating snails especially from the marine, central and north eastern areas.

In the southern part of India, different classes of snails are eaten by coastal populations, such as snails, clams, oysters and squids. In the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal and the entire northeastern region, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura, snails (gastropods) are commonly preferred.

Studies have shown that snails are rich in calcium and significant quantities of phosphorus, iron and zinc, especially in species such as Pomacea canaliculata, Pila globosa, etc.

In Tamil Nadu and other coastal areas, freshwater snails belonging to the genus Pila are eaten both for food and for medicinal purposes.

Fresh Water Snails as a traditional food in North Bengal:

During the winter and monsoon seasons, snails are mainly hand-picked from ponds, streams and marshy areas. In addition, snails are obtained during monsoons exclusively from paddy fields.

Women are the majority of the vendors offering freshwater snails.

According to the locals, the number of people selling snails during the monsoon (June to September) and post-monsoon (October to February) seasons is higher than during the summer season (March to May).

Snails are sold in many parts of northeast India as well, not only in the major markets, but also on the roadside and in small markets. Snails are either already packaged in packages of one kilogram or sold loose as needed by the user.

Depending on the species, the average cost of snails during the off-season is about 50 to 100 Indian rupees per cup and 20 to 50 Indian rupees during the monsoon and after-monsoon seasons.

Medicinal uses of Fresh water Snails:

Tribal groups assume that snail intake increases or helps preserve healthy eyesight and proper functioning of the kidneys. In poultry fodder, crushed snail shells are also added as a strong calcium substitute to improve the development of eggs.

There are several other factors as already seen in the global markets where snail’s mucus is used widely in the cosmetic industry as well.

Hence, this field also has lots of areas for research especially the medicinal properties which needs to be reconsider and find out any possibilities which would be a great help in the field of science and medicines.

Snail farming a great option in Indian market:

Freshwater snails are harvested from thousands of wild populations. Sadly, there is no updated list of many Indian freshwater snails species, especially those harvested.

According to Locals opinion stocks of freshwater snails are declining and they also consider this may be due to over-harvesting. Snail faming may be applied in the areas of North Bengal, Assam, the other states of North east as well as the South India to fulfil the needs of local communities.

The snail farming market can flourish more in the Indian market in comparison to other global countries as this would help the tribal communities to expand its traditional food market. In a way this can even help India follow its “Atma Nirbhar” path as well.

In order to determine population trends, long-term population surveys on freshwater snails in the wild must also be conducted. Pollution, dam building and habitat loss endanger freshwater habitats in the north eastern region of India.

So let’s save our traditional food and culture and make our nations independent from all sorts of taboos related especially to Traditional or tribal foods.

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