India's poor urged to 'eat rats'

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India's poor urged to 'eat rats'

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BBC
An official in the Indian state of Bihar has come up with a new idea to encourage low caste poor people to cope with food shortages - rat meat.

The Principal Secretary of the state's Welfare Department, Vijay Prakash, said that he was advancing his proposal after "much survey and ground work".

Bihar's extremely poor Musahar community are rat-eaters by tradition.

The Musahar are on the bottom strata of the caste system with the lowest literacy rate and per capita income.

Less than one percent of their 2.3 million population in Bihar is literate and 98% are landless.

Delicacy

Mr Prakash says his proposals to popularise rat meat eating are intended to uplift their social-economic condition.

"There are twin advantages of this proposal. First, we can save about half of our food grain stocks by catching and eating rats and secondly we can improve the economic condition of the Musahar community," he told the BBC.

According to Mr Prakash, about 50% of total food grain stocks in the country are eaten away by rodents.

He argues that by promoting rat eating more grain will be preserved while hunger among the Musahar community will be reduced.

He said that rat meat is not only a delicacy but a protein-enriched food, widely popular in Thailand and France.

"Rats have almost no bones and are quite rich in nutrition. People at large don't know this cuisine fact but gradually they are catching up."

However he may find it difficult to popularise such a strategy in a conservative society like Bihar and other north Indian states.

Mr Prakash says that he has recipes to make rat eating a delicacy, which he now wants to distribute to all the hotels in Bihar.

He also wants to encourage rat farming in the same way that poultry is farmed.

While eating rat meat is still stigmatised in urban areas of the country, Mr Prakash says that his research has revealed that it is a popular food item in some parts of Bihar where it is known at roadside hotels by the name of "patal-bageri".

This is not the first time that the department secretary has come out with such an innovative idea.

Earlier, he proposed to recruit eunuchs as security guards to maternity wards in hospitals.

"Yes, that proposal is in its advance stage and we'll very soon engage them in various social activities of our department," he said.

And the welfare secretary's next plan?

"I'll make snake catching popular for the economic value of its venom," he said.
Bihar to uplift Musahar community by commercialising rat meat (India PRwire)
Rat meat may soon be available in hotels as a delicacy. Rat farming, akin to rearing poultry, would be given to the poor Musahar community of Bihar as a means for their socio-economic upliftment as well as promote a new kind of food item in urban pockets.

The Musahars, known as the traditional rat eating community and still regarded as 'untouchables', usually hunt rats in the paddy fields.

'The government has decided to engage the Musahars in commercialisation of rat meat for their overall development,' Vijay Prakash, principal secretary in the social welfare department, told IANS.

'We will encourage and help the Musahars to organize rat farms in order to commercialise rat meat' he said.

The Musahars, estimated to number 2.3 million, are among the most deprived and marginalised section of the society in Bihar. They are yet to taste the fruits of development. They are widely known as rat eaters either out of choice or as compulsion to fight hunger.

Engaging Musahars in commercialisation of rat meat would help create a regular source of income for them. 'It will help empower them and change their poor living conditions if the venture is properly designed and clicks,' said Prakash.

Prakash maintains rat meat has the 'potential' to become a popular food. According to dieticians, rat meat is rich in protein and tastier than chicken.

Prakash said when Musahars rear rats in farms, on the lines of chicken and fish farming, the age-old image of catching rats being a wild activity will change.

Eating rat meat is considered a stigma in urban pockets and confined to the poorer sections of society, said Prakash. 'However, I discovered during a fact-finding mission about rat meat that it is a popular food item in the Mokama riverine areas and roadside hotels in Danapur in Patna district. It is called 'patal-bageri' and its demand is high,' he said.

Many people at toddy shops demand rat meat for its rare taste with spices.

The state government plans to set up stalls in rural fairs across the state, followed by rat meat centres in urban areas.

Prakash hinted that his department would approach government and private agencies in and outside the country to speed up commercialisation of rat meat.

'We'd like to have a network with other experts to boost the rat meat business,' he said.

Dalits constitute nearly 15 percent of Bihar's population of 83 million. The poorest Dalits were declared Maha Dalits in Bihar. A government commission has identified 18 of the 22 Dalit sub castes, including Musahar, Bhuiyan, Dom, and Nat as Maha Dalits. They constitute 31 percent of the Dalit population in the state.

The commission has not included four Dalit castes - Paswan, Pasi, Dhobi and Chamar - in the Maha Dalit category. These four constitute 69 percent of the Dalit population in the state.

A few months ago Nitish Kumar announced a special package of Rs.3 billion ($76 million) for the socio-economic development of the poorest among Dalits.

He set up a commission in August last year for the welfare of certain Dalit castes that are socially and educationally more backward than others.

Bihar is the first state to constitute a commission to study the status of the neglected sub-castes among Dalits and suggest ways to uplift them.

The commission in its first interim report to the government a few months ago painted a bleak picture of the Dalit sub-castes. The report said there were no high school teachers or senior officials from these castes in the state despite reservations in government jobs for them.
Wow.
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Post by Uraniun235 »

Life gives you rats, make steak.
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Post by TithonusSyndrome »

Uraniun235 wrote:Life gives you starvation, get disease.
I guess it's a more expedient way to die, anyways.
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Post by Cycloneman »

That's not what this is at all. India's poor already eat rats; he's proposing that India's rich start eating rats as a delicacy, so the poor can sell the rat meat to them and make money.
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Post by Buddha »

The fallout (re: illness) will ensure that the genius who thought of this will be run out of town. How do make rat meat trendy? Is this a sick joke about rat farming? I wouldn't care that it's against my religion to eat beef. Bring out the sacred cows!
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Post by Lord of the Abyss »

Buddha wrote:How do make rat meat trendy? Is this a sick joke about rat farming? I wouldn't care that it's against my religion to eat beef. Bring out the sacred cows!
Um, isn't that just the same sort of proposal, but aimed at cows ? Disdain for eating rat ( at least clean, healthy rats ) is just as irrational as disdain for eating cows, or pork, or horses.
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Post by Shroom Man 777 »

I wonder if a lot of these untouchables and lower-caste people would be susceptible to some kind of communist/socialist upheaval to get back at those bourgeoisie pig dogs and stuff. I mean, eating rats? Come on.
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Post by Broomstick »

What's wrong with eating rats - other than social taboo?

They ARE nutritious meat. You do have to cook them thoroughly to kill off disease vectors but that's true of any game meat. Eat enough of them and their population drops to the point that the rats have fewer crowd diseases. Really, the people are just as much in danger from massive numbers of rats living amongst them as they are from eating the damn rodents.

Foods like snails and lobsters were once considered proper only for the low class, now the rich eat them with gusto. Popularizing rat meat isn't that whacko an idea, once you get past the emotional issues.

That said - there might be other, more expedient ways to accomplish the intended goals.
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Post by Zor »

Invest in Indian Ketchup Factories.

Anyway, i saw something in a documentry they catch the things in areas of China for food, so it is not that unusual.

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Post by Admiral Valdemar »

India has a thriving bio-tech industry. If they want to impress me, develop proper, marketable vat produced meat. You'll hopefully solve the hunger and energy/pollution problems associated with mass farming. As a hat trick, you'll give exterminators a chance to make a living off rodents.
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Post by salm »

He said that rat meat is not only a delicacy but a protein-enriched food, widely popular in Thailand and France.
I don't know about Thailand but rat sure as hell is not widely popular in France.
That said, i don't see anything wrong with eating rat. Might even be tasty.
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Post by Winston Blake »

You could call it 'little rabbit' or 'tender rabbit' or similar - better connotations than 'rat meat'.

Although a big problem I can see is that there's no economic incentive to catch wild rats. It would be more profitable to farm domesticated ones. It would help minimise disease too.

Also, a big potential market without the cultural issues is pet food. Boil it up and process it into dog and cat food. If it's so protein rich, then it might be better value than conventional meat by-products.
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Post by Fingolfin_Noldor »

Broomstick wrote:What's wrong with eating rats - other than social taboo?

They ARE nutritious meat. You do have to cook them thoroughly to kill off disease vectors but that's true of any game meat. Eat enough of them and their population drops to the point that the rats have fewer crowd diseases. Really, the people are just as much in danger from massive numbers of rats living amongst them as they are from eating the damn rodents.

Foods like snails and lobsters were once considered proper only for the low class, now the rich eat them with gusto. Popularizing rat meat isn't that whacko an idea, once you get past the emotional issues.

That said - there might be other, more expedient ways to accomplish the intended goals.
India also has had several instances of bubonic plague in the country. I believe the last major outbreak was some time in the 90s.

But yes, that's about all the food the poor there can acquire.
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Post by PainRack »

There really isn't any problems with eating rats...... provided we're talking about field rodents which usually don't have the related insect vectors involved. Rodents ARE clean animals in the wild afterall.

I do recall some documentaries showing people rearing rodents for sale in Africia and I think they do eat some rodents in northern thailand, although calling them delicacies is a bit much.

We're just expressing our social taboos at foods here, similar to how people reject eating worm candy, fried ants and spiders.
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Post by Galvatron »

John Spartan didn't seem to mind his rat burger.
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Post by Ender »

Honestly, provided it is clean meat, this seems to be about the same prejudice against eating catfish. And I am confident that, like catfish, given a good recipe and skilled chef you could make it one of the most delicious meals you will eat.
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Post by salm »

According to this guy rat tastes better than chicken:
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Post by Sidewinder »

"There are twin advantages of this proposal. First, we can save about half of our food grain stocks by catching and eating rats and secondly we can improve the economic condition of the Musahar community," he told the BBC.

According to Mr Prakash, about 50% of total food grain stocks in the country are eaten away by rodents.

He argues that by promoting rat eating more grain will be preserved while hunger among the Musahar community will be reduced.
He also wants to encourage rat farming in the same way that poultry is farmed.
Aren't these two goals (saving food stocks that would otherwise have been eaten by rats, and rat farming) contradictory, i.e., domesticated rats need to be provided with large amounts of food?
Galvatron wrote:John Spartan didn't seem to mind his rat burger.
John Spartan didn't mind a rat burger because he knew no other sources of red meat existed in the "future" he awoke in.
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Post by Broomstick »

Sidewinder wrote:
"There are twin advantages of this proposal. First, we can save about half of our food grain stocks by catching and eating rats and secondly we can improve the economic condition of the Musahar community," he told the BBC.

According to Mr Prakash, about 50% of total food grain stocks in the country are eaten away by rodents.

He argues that by promoting rat eating more grain will be preserved while hunger among the Musahar community will be reduced.
He also wants to encourage rat farming in the same way that poultry is farmed.
Aren't these two goals (saving food stocks that would otherwise have been eaten by rats, and rat farming) contradictory, i.e., domesticated rats need to be provided with large amounts of food?
Depends on how you go about it. Rats can eat things people can't, after all. Feed them on that it could be practical.

But really, I think the idea is to eat the rats that are already eating foodstocks, thereby recouping at least some of the food calories that would otherwise be lost.
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Post by Singular Intellect »

Broomstick wrote:What's wrong with eating rats - other than social taboo?

They ARE nutritious meat. You do have to cook them thoroughly to kill off disease vectors but that's true of any game meat. Eat enough of them and their population drops to the point that the rats have fewer crowd diseases. Really, the people are just as much in danger from massive numbers of rats living amongst them as they are from eating the damn rodents.
I was just about to ask on that paritcular issue, but you answered it.
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Post by Molyneux »

Winston Blake wrote:You could call it 'little rabbit' or 'tender rabbit' or similar - better connotations than 'rat meat'.

Although a big problem I can see is that there's no economic incentive to catch wild rats. It would be more profitable to farm domesticated ones. It would help minimise disease too.

Also, a big potential market without the cultural issues is pet food. Boil it up and process it into dog and cat food. If it's so protein rich, then it might be better value than conventional meat by-products.
How about 'city rabbit'? For cat and dog food, that actually sounds like a pretty damn good idea. What is the 'traditional' food of cats (and small dogs), after all?
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Post by Oskuro »

Galvatron wrote:John Spartan didn't seem to mind his rat burger.
Despite any failings on that movie, that moment was a sweet lesson to us all who were expecting Spartan to spit the burger out.
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Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Frankly, those of you balking at eating rats need to grow a set of metaphorical balls. Provided the meat is cooked you kill any parasites, and the meat if seasoned well (curry?) might taste pretty good. All of this bitching about eating rats is social taboo, like eating insects. And I can tell you right now, insects are tasty (I am about the worst urban gay man ever...)

So try something new. Eat some insects, and rats. I imagine a rat and termite stir-fry.... wow that actually sounds pretty damn good
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Post by Invictus ChiKen »

Ender wrote:Honestly, provided it is clean meat, this seems to be about the same prejudice against eating catfish. And I am confident that, like catfish, given a good recipe and skilled chef you could make it one of the most delicious meals you will eat.
True personally I'd try it but then I'd try anything once.
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Post by Darth Wong »

Ender wrote:Honestly, provided it is clean meat, this seems to be about the same prejudice against eating catfish. And I am confident that, like catfish, given a good recipe and skilled chef you could make it one of the most delicious meals you will eat.
There's a prejudice against eating catfish? I've eaten catfish plenty of times.
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