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GI Tag Awarded To Odisha’s Red Ant Chutney, Know The Health Benefits

The red weaver ants are renowned for their highly painful sting, which can lead to the formation of blisters on the skin

Edited By : Aniket Raj | Updated: Jan 10, 2024 14:14 IST
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Red Ant Chutney
Red Ant Chutney

For centuries, communities worldwide have embraced insects as a food source. In Odisha‘s Mayurbhanj district, a unique culinary tradition involves using red weaver ants to create a chutney known as ‘Kai Chutney,’ which is a watery semi-solid paste. This distinctive savory chutney, celebrated in the region for its medicinal and nutritional qualities, was granted the geographical indication (GI) tag on January 2, 2024.

The red weaver ants, scientifically identified as Oecophylla smaragdina, are renowned for their highly painful sting, which can lead to the formation of blisters on the skin. Found commonly in the forests of Mayurbhanj, including the Similipal forests, these ants inhabit Asia’s second-largest biosphere.

Hundreds of tribal families in the district sustain their livelihoods by collecting and selling these insects and the chutneys derived from them. The ants and their eggs are meticulously gathered from their nests and undergo a cleaning process before being utilized. The chutney is crafted by grinding a blend of salt, ginger, garlic, and chilies. Similar red ant chutneys are also present in other eastern states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

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Beyond its culinary appeal, red ant chutney is esteemed for its potential health benefits. It is believed to be a rich source of nutrients such as protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin B-12, iron, magnesium, potassium, and more. This unique chutney is also valued for its perceived role in supporting the development of a healthy brain and nervous system, potentially assisting in the management of conditions like depression, fatigue, and memory loss.

Various research and studies suggest that incorporating insects into diets as a protein source could offer a solution to environmental challenges. Insects have the potential to substitute traditional animal protein sources like cows, which are known for significant emissions of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. This approach holds promise for mitigating environmental impact and promoting a more sustainable food system.

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First published on: Jan 10, 2024 02:14 PM IST

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