Ryan O’Donnell’sArk Of Taste PresentationFeaturingZazamushi
Zazamushi is the 2 cm larvae of a river insect found in the River Tenryugawa in Nagano Prefecture. “zazamushi” means insects (mushi) that live in a place where the river makes the sound “zaazaa” as it flows insects have been a basic source of protein for local populations for centuries due to their land locked situation and are still valuable today. The peak season is between December and February when the water slow and the fishermen can get to the rocks. Zazamushi is cooked in soy sauce and sugar and available both canned and in restaurants
Why Is it in the Ark? Since the presence of Zasamushi is very much affected by the water conditions, river pollution is the most serious danger for these species. Pollution has come from many source over a long period of time including, damming, industrial waste, golf course run off, poor solid waste management and economic development projects that cement over huge stretches of river bank. The first dam on the main stream of the Tenryu River was completed in 1935. By 1951 five more dams had been built. As recently as the late 90’s huge public works programs were started by the Japanese government to kick start the economy in the post bubble era. Cementing river banks was one of these programs which affected water flow as well as added large numbers of pollutants into the rivers.
Steps to ensure that Zazamushi is a long term part in the food chain? A healthy environment and promoting sustainable harvesting practices are the only viable ways of preventing Zazamushi from disappearing. The Friends of the River Tenryugawa group was recently founded to protect the river. Mr. Kiyoto Ikegami is the groups contact and one of the key figures in their operations. Some success has been seen in the growth of the zazamushi population as the Japanese Government has reformed their environmental policy tightening restrictions on industry in the area. In general the awareness of the Japanese people to environmental problems has grown from almost non existent to a level more on par with the West over the last five years.
Sources: History of water pollution control - www.emecs.or.jp “Dogs and Demons” – Alex Ker Slowfood.com Environmental issues in Japan - wikipedia