Letters to the Editor

Is crocodile meat a healthy choice?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013    

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Dear Editor,

In Jamaica, there is evidence that a few people are eating the "exotic" crocodile and mongoose meat. Crocodile meat is said to taste very much like chicken and can be prepared like chicken. This news has been met with consternation by many in the population. This is, however, a natural cultural or ethnocentric response, as there are many Asian countries in which people eat everything that moves. So imagine dogs, rats, cats, cows, goats, snails, lizards, grasshoppers are not immune from human digestion.

In Jamaica crocodiles are a protected species and there is a clash between conservationists and nutrition. Whether it is the crocodile or mongoose they could be placed in the category of wild animals which research has shown to be more nutritious than domesticated animals grown for food. It is a fact that wild animals have less harmful fat content and are a more concentrated source of protein and calorie. For example, a pound of crocodile meat, in terms of protein and calorie content, is equivalent to two pounds of chicken meat. Crocodile meat has little or no saturated fat or cholesterol and contains all the amino acids essential for growth and bodily sustenance.

It should be noted that the average human being needs just about 2-3ozs of protein daily for sustenance; men needing more than women.

Overall, research has shown crocodile meat is a healthier choice than our regular meats (beef, ham, sausage, chicken, or pork). It should also be noted that crocodile meat is also high in potassium and magnesium, the lack of which can predispose an individual to high blood pressure and all the other connected health problems.

The reality is that if people can verify the facts there is going to be a demand for crocodile meat locally, therefore, the response by the authorities should not be that the meat is dangerous, as such a statement could also be said about "yard fowl" or any other home-grown fish or meat.

Threatening people with imprisonment or a fine if caught with it in today's globalised world should not be a first step. We should begin with accurate information, not ethnocentric hysteria.

Is crocodile meat unhealthy? The answer is no, not under normal circumstances. Why it shouldn't be captured in Jamaica is because it is an endangered species and protected by law.

How will we then satisfy the demand for crocodile meat and tails? We either import it, rear it, or have a crocodile hunting season like we do for lobster, conch and some types of birds. The obvious choice would be the one that does not involve spending scarce foreign exchange. We can save the crocodiles by having a well-thought-out plan of action and not a call-the-police plan.The police already have been given several baskets to carry ice, do not add another, they need the time, support and space to save the endangered human species in Jamaica.

Michael Spence

micspen2@hotmail.com

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