Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rats to solve food crisis

Eating rats is the best way for rich and poor people to solve the global crisis of rising food prices, an Indian official said on Wednesday as he unveiled his plan to put rodents on menus.

Regular rat snacks would translate into fewer rodents eating precious grain stocks -- 50 percent of which are lost in the northeastern state of Bihar in India every year to the animals, said Vijay Prakash, secretary of the state's welfare department.

"This will help in mitigating the global food crisis. We are sure that it will work wonders," Prakash told AFP. "It will save half our grain, and will also reduce villagers' dependence on food stock."

Prakash's plan promotes consumption of rat meat in homes, street stalls, restaurants and even international five-star hotels.

He said he was also holding talks with prestigious hotels outside India to encourage them to put rat meat on their menus, but admitted his scheme had to overcome public prejudice.

"The only issue is how people react to rat meat, but I think it will not be a problem," he said.

"Some socially deprived people in Bihar have always consumed rat meat. If they can eat rats, why can't the rest of the people?" he said.

Members of the Mushar community and some other impoverished groups have traditionally eaten rats in India.

"Rat meat will make up nutrition deficiencies among villagers, since rats are a major source of protein," Prakash said.

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