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Why This World Food Prize Winner Wants You To Reconsider Anchovies

Olya Kobruseva

Anchovies and sardines are superfoods, especially for kids.

Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted recently received the 2021 World Food Prize, described as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, for her work on integrating small fish into the diets of developing countries – she mainly focused on this due to the incredible nutrient density of small fish, and the imperative role it plays in brain development in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, as well as in pregnant and nursing mothers.

Anchovies, sardines, and indeed many species of small fish are rich in unsaturated fats omega 3 and 6 also known as EPA and DHA, which are essential for brain health. Since sardines only eat plankton, they also contain very low levels of mercury.

There is also evidence that they help prevent aging and can reduce inflammation in a variety of organs. They also contain vitamin B12, a nutrient. most often found in meat and in particular shellfish, but that is hardly present in all other food groups.

B12 deficiency is common in children in the developing world, a challenge Thilsted tried to address by increasing access to smaller fish, which meant a bit of breaking the stigma, as most consumers would prefer to eat more fish. great like tuna, salmon or fish. carp species.

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His work began in Bangladesh and spans Sierra Leone, Malawi, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Zambia, and Nepal. One of the main ways that access to small fish is increasing is by using a cultural feature of Bangladesh: the backyard “farm pond”.

In an interview with NPR, Thilsted explains that since Bangladesh is such a low country, many people choose to build their houses on raised ground. The hole that the owners dig to acquire the land to build their property becomes a pond, which they usually store with larger species of fish.

According to Thilsted, there are four million of these farm ponds in Bangladesh alone, but he has also found them in India, Zambia, and Malawi. Small fish grow faster and produce more weight than larger fish traditionally raised in ponds, as their spines, which contain a lot of nutritional value, are thin enough to chew on.

Thilsted developed programs to expand awareness of the dietary uses of small fish in the kitchen, helping families find more ways to provide vital nutrients to their children. One method is to dry the fish and pulverize it into a kind of supplement that can then be added to rice or porridge to increase the nutrient values ​​it contains.

“Dr. Thilsted’s work on nutrition, fish and aquatic foods challenges us to think very critically about the scope of agricultural research and the urgent call to action to transform global food systems towards healthy and sustainable diets for all” . saying WorldFish Director Gareth Johnstone. Thilsted has worked for WorldFish for 10 years.

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Taking inspiration from his new home country, Italy, this reporter dissolves a dried anchovy or two in olive oil, adds herbs and spices, and stores them to use as a deep flavoring agent.

SWIM this fascinating investigation with your friends …


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