Christina Mapes at the National University of Mexico, the Instituto de Biologia, referred us to a book by R.S. Gliessman, Agroecology: Ecological Processes in Sustain Agriculture, Ann Arbor Press, Inc. Although we were not able to obtain the book, we later learned from Mapes that there is a long history of the people of Mexico using insects as food and medicine. Thomas H. Fredericksen’s writings on Aztec Medicine indicate that a potion was made from insects from the Jatropha currea and Spondias trees. “The carefully selected and harvested insects were boiled in water and during the boiling process, a waxy like film would come to the surface of the water which was then collected.” This waxy film was used to cure rashes and treat ulcers and infections.
A member of our Insecta Inspecta World team went to Mexico City to obtain documents written in Spanish regarding chinampas farming. Inspecta Diaz translated the documents when she returned. What we discovered offered new evidence that deserved consideration.
“The Aztecs, during their voyage to find the chosen land, had to eat whatever they found on the way in order to survive. Since insects are the most abundant animal group in the world, and make up eighty percent of the animal kingdom and, on occasion, form great masses of live subjects, they couldn’t take them for granted. In addition, generally they are easy to locate, collect, preserve, and keep. Insects are found in all habitats: fields, mountains, desert, trees, creeks, rivers, lakes, and in aquatic places. Therefore, the Aztecs found them everywhere they went, and without doubt, they became accustomed to consuming them. Insects constructed part of their ordinary diet, not only when they established in Tenochtitlan, but in their long journey to get there. In addition, when the Aztecs got there and established at the top of a lake called Acocolco, their life was very poor. It is said they only maintained themselves by eating fish and all kinds of insects. However, this necessity was helpful so that they could explore the lake intensely and would come to know all that could be used as food, most of what was of a high content of nutrition.”
El Consumo de Insectos Entre Los Aztecas, page 90
Julieta Ramos-Elorduy and Jose Manuel Pino Moreno, Instituto de Biologia, UNAM