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Insects and other invertebrates in the Pjiekakjoo (Tlahuica) culture in Mexico State, Mexico

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The Pjiekakjoo are the smallest indigenous group in the State of Mexico. They have managed to survive and maintain an ethnic project despite their proximity to the largest metropolitan areas in central Mexico: Mexico City, Toluca and Cuernavaca. Sadly, their indigenous language is considered to be in danger of extinction. Their knowledge of insects and other invertebrates was recorded through a collaborative project that included the collection of organisms, semi-structured interviews and intergenerational workshops. The documentation and systematisation of their ethnoentomological information was with the active participation of the Tlahuicas. Discussions with the Tlahuicas about other topics, such as the importance of biocultural diversity and the heritage it represents, was promoted. The methodology developed is based in Freire’s ideas of education for freedom and Smith's proposals for the decolonisation of methodologies in anthropological research. An emic perspective was preferred. We documented invertebrates in general. A total of 70 taxa of invertebrates were documented distributed in 3 phyla: Arthropoda (67), Mollusca (2) and Annelida (1).These have 58 Pjiekakjoo names and 66 names in Spanish. The most representative class is the Insecta, with 60 out of 67 categories of arthropods. Half of the taxa (34) have uses: 14 are edible, 7 medicinal, 8 recreational, 2 ornamental, one as an aphrodisiac and one as flavouring. The edible insects are primarily Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, and Hymenoptera orders. The Pjiekakjoo use 4 invertebrate products: honey, honeycomb, beebread and spider web. The use of insects and other invertebrates requires specialised ecological and ethological knowledge. 9 taxa are associated with distinctive beliefs, commonly as omens. The present paper recommends the use of ethnoentomological research to help the heirs of this biocultural heritage to face the challenges of the contemporary world.
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Keywords: ethnoentomology; participatory methodology; useful insects; useful invertebrates

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1CONACYT, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad Villahermosa, Ranchería Guineo 2nd sección, Municipio de Centro, Villahermosa, 86280 Tabasco, Mexico; 2: 2El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Barrio María Auxiliadora, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, 29290 Chiapas, Mexico;

Publication date: March 19, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The ‘Journal of Insects as Food and Feed' covers edible insects from harvesting in the wild through to industrial scale production. It publishes contributions to understanding the ecology and biology of edible insects and the factors that determine their abundance, the importance of food insects in people's livelihoods, the value of ethno-entomological knowledge, and the role of technology transfer to assist people to utilise traditional knowledge to improve the value of insect foods in their lives. The journal aims to cover the whole chain of insect collecting or rearing to marketing edible insect products, including the development of sustainable technology, such as automation processes at affordable costs, detection, identification and mitigating of microbial contaminants, development of protocols for quality control, processing methodologies and how they affect digestibility and nutritional composition of insects, and the potential of insects to transform low value organic wastes into high protein products. At the end of the edible insect food or feed chain, marketing issues, consumer acceptance, regulation and legislation pose new research challenges. Food safety and legislation are intimately related. Consumer attitude is strongly dependent on the perceived safety. Microbial safety, toxicity due to chemical contaminants, and allergies are important issues in safety of insects as food and feed. Innovative contributions that address the multitude of aspects relevant for the utilisation of insects in increasing food and feed quality, safety and security are welcomed.
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