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Heliciculture - Snail Farming, the Oldest form of Animal Husbandry?

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posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 10:45 PM
Snails remain a popular Western food, perhaps more for gastronomic and novelty use, rather than pure nutrition.
Heliciculture is a growing industry, and even promises to be a sustainable protein source for the future, as fish stocks and seafoods are compromised.
Snail farming on a commercial scale is known since Roman times.
However, some argue that proof of it exists since the Neolithic ages, and perhaps regionally it goes well into the Stone Age.
Heck, the Neanderthals may have kept snails.
I wonder if anybody could share anything on this fascinating topic?

It's not vegetarian, but common, it might as well be!

The only sad thing is that they tend to escape and become invasive species.
edit on 28-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 10:54 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I know for a fact that this was mentioned on an episode of QI, a British TV show, I will see if I can find a transcript or something

Edit to add
The only thing I could find from the episode is this quote

Snail farming seems to date back to 10,700 B.C. The earliest things archaeologists have ever found that we appeared to farm.

edit on 28-12-2010 by davespanners because: (no reason given)

edit on 28-12-2010 by davespanners because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 11:05 PM
reply to post by davespanners

Yeah, I've seen it too, and despite my searches it doesn't appear on the web.
I recall that they found stone structures from prehistory.
Some historians felt it was for heliciculture.
That would make animal herding (at least conceptually) much older than previously thought by Western science.
edit on 28-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 11:13 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Here is a post about it in the QI forums, it appears to be from a book Food: A History by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

It doesn't seem to be an widely accepted theory either, just one mans opinion. It's hard not to believe things that Stephen Fry tells you though

posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 11:33 PM
reply to post by davespanners

Well I can believe it.So make that at least two men's opinions.

Interesting, and thanks for the research.
The strange thing is, I could stomach snails, but slugs are just vile.
But if you think about it, what is a slug but a homeless snail?

I recall that my parents once wanted to make "escargot" from the snails in the garden.
They put them all in a bucket of salt, and the poor things started crawling out.
It was so heartbreaking that they took them all to an empty plot down the road and released them.
And these were people who happily ate pork chops and steaks!
At least the snails were free, although everything was "developed" and cemented soon afterwards.

I step on one occasionally, and it's just green snot and pieces of shell.
However, I miss the taste and dip my bread in the sauce sometimes.

posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 11:38 PM
I've never tried one although I don't actually have any objection to trying them but I've just never been in a situation where I have been in a restaurant and though, mmmmm I fancy some tasty snails

I guess the texture looks a little off putting but it can't be worse then the Jellied Eels that my parents used to eat

As for the farming theory, I just don't know, it doesn't seem like the most natural thing to farm but then again they are at least small and manageable and I guess the fact that they are hermaphrodites takes some of the difficulty out of the breeding aspect

posted on Dec, 28 2010 @ 11:47 PM
reply to post by davespanners

From the food history book link in your post:

Ancient Romans bred snails by keeping them in cages and stuffing them with milk until they got too big for their shells.

Yuck, that sounds like a horrendous practice.
Eew, like eating Jabba the Hutt.

Nevertheless, I heard they really thrive on beer.

I can just picture a Gary Larson snail cartoon about kids getting "too big for their shells" these days.
edit on 28-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 12:13 AM

Originally posted by halfoldman
It's not vegetarian, but common, it might as well be!

I think this line was written tongue-in-cheek but I am confused by it. Could you expand on this thought?

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 12:19 AM
Traditional snail farming and cooking in Burgundy.

They copulate for 12 hours, 24 in the wild!
And there's no funny gay hanky-panky going, because they're bisexual.
I'm not sure, don't ask...
One can see that these snails are the real deal for escargots ... mmm:

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 12:24 AM
anyone have a price per dozen of thees things in the USA ? or California?

many thanks !

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 12:30 AM
reply to post by JohnnyTHSeed

I figure that just because something crawls it is not necessarily superior to a plant.
A big plant can form a whole ecosystem, and it also crawls slowly towards sunlight, and shoots roots in the ground.
Plants have feelings and even communicate in the African bush e.g. they warn each other to make their leaves bitter when herbivores (well, to them carnivores) approach.
Plants can live and support life for ages. What is the snail compared to that?
Will snail farming harm the planet more than vegetarianism?
Do snails have highly developed nervous systems?
At least for me they are less stressed by this farming than chopping down jungles for semi-toxic soy products.
So, if vegetarianism is about environmentalism, nourishment and lack of cruelty in killing something, then the snail comes out even above several vegetarian foods.

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 01:07 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

Great Thread!

I’ve been raising snails for quite a while now.
Biggest problem for me is all the poo! Man do these things put out the fertilizer!
I was thinking the other day - thank goodness snails aren’t the size a dogs - I’d be covered in, well, you know.

Anyway, they’re high in protein - unreal protein - and if you can get over the slimy consistency once they’re cooked you’re all set.

I don’t eat them, I barter them for meat WITHOUT TEETH!

Yeah, I’ve yet to get a good picture but snails have a row of ‘teeth’ on the top of their slimy little mouths and they cut and scrape their food with it. A lot like the beak of a calamari. Anyway, the big one on my wrist, he could actually ‘bite’ hard enough to make it uncomfortable (and too creepy) to keep trying to get a shot of his chompers.

There’s also a parasite, a ‘fluke’ from snails that can be passed on to humans so it’s not a risk free task.
I’ve got more information on that but it’s for another thread!


posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 07:33 AM
Wow that big Orange guy is actually kind of cute.
Do they come in any other exciting colours?

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 04:34 PM
I have been around snails all my life. Grew up on a snail ranch near the Pecos River. Cut my teeth ropin' and brandin' snails till the sun went down. Even met my wife one night in Abilene after we drove the herd north to market one year...long trip.

I guess you could say once snails get in your blood, there is no going back. The smell of BBQ snail always gets me a little misty and lonesome for the trail...

But it is never to be. One night, during a big rain, some calves got separated from the herd down in the gulch. I could hear them young snails callin' for their mothers through the darkness as the storm raged all around us. I pointed my trusty mare down the muddy hill into the night. As we hit the bottom, lightning stuck and spooked the rest of the herd right down on top us.... stampede. I've never been the same since...

Thanks for the memories OP.

posted on May, 25 2011 @ 08:26 PM
A sticky tale which reminded me of this thread.

Two Polish thieves were caught with 12 tonnes of snails. The snails were collected in remote forests and destined to be served as garlic-buttered escargots in France.
The thieves could spend up to ten years in prison for their haul.

Pity that there's no further details on how they carted the over 300 000 mollusks away!
One doubts they drove the herd before them, as as the above poster describes.
If so, it's not surprising the law caught up with them.

No really, how do you steal 12 tonnes of snails?

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