As people all over the world look to more sustainable ways of eating, insects are growing in popularity as a highly nutritious, low impact food source. Insects are already a big component of traditional diets and mainstream society is finally catching on.
Inspired by her Tsonga roots, Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani, founded Matomani – a proudly South African company using Mopani worms to provide consumers with a sustainable, low-impact, organic, healthy and protein-rich addition to their diets.
“Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is more relevant than ever, as we face food insecurity and the rising costs of animal protein. As we become more aware of the impact of greenhouse gasses on global warming, insects, like Mopani worms, are an attractive and sustainable long-term alternative,” explains Wendy.
Raised in a small Limpopo village, Mopani worms were an integral part of Wendy’s childhood. She fondly recalls learning the art of harvesting when accompanying her parents deep into the Mopani forests and developing an understanding of the science and love that goes into preparing traditional Mopani-based meals.
“My hope is to establish a strong relationship between the Mopani worms and the cultivating communities with the environmental and health-conscious society around the world,” says Wendy.
Mopani worms contain about 60% protein and are rich in iron, calcium and phosphorus making them a healthy protein alternative. They are a highly sustainable food source, providing more protein per gram than beef. Just 3 kilograms of Mopani leaves yields 1 kilogram of Mopani worms. In contrast, cattle farmers need 10 kilograms of feed to make 1 kilogram of beef.
“Our Mopani worms come from remote Mopani tree forests in Limpopo. They are all natural, organic and free from chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides and hormones,” says Wendy.
The Matomani range is available via Takealot.com and the Matomani online store and includes premium, hand-picked Mopani worms, Mopani flour and Mopani biscuits. “Our Mopani worms are perfect as a snack or added as an ingredient in stews or on pizza. Our Mopani flour is made from stone-ground Mopani worms which is great as an addition in pancakes, when baking or as a sauce thickener. The Mopani biscuits are a high protein savoury snack made with stone-ground Mopani worms and are perfect with tea, a cold beer or just because!” adds Wendy.
Using skills passed through generations, Wendy aspires to work closely with local communities to allow them to continue their legacy with the skills of their forefathers. “We care about the local communities where our Mopani worms are sourced and aspire to improve their lives by creating employment and trade opportunities in order to alleviate poverty. Our staff are sourced from our partner communities and empowered with training and skills development,” says Wendy.
Wendy encourages consumers to consider incorporating insects into their diets as an environmentally-friendly alternative to protein, omegas and minerals.