|Hand-reeling silk in NE Thailand|
Killing the worm, which is actually a caterpillar, would defeat the purpose. Caterpillars spin the cocoons that provide the filaments which comprise silk thread. But cocoons contain pupae and, when cocoons are boiled to loosen the gum that holds the filaments together, the pupae are cooked much the same as an egg is boiled. And, just as a boiled egg will never become a chicken, a boiled pupa will never become a moth.
Also like a boiled egg, a boiled pupa is an excellent source of nutrition. So much so that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) promotes the nutrition available from silk pupae, especially in the rice-growing regions in Southeast Asia where the rural poor are frequently deficient in proteins and other nutrients whether or not they have enough carbohydrates.
Silkworm pupae are full of protein. They also contain essential amino acids, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, selenium and other trace elements as well as vitamins A, E, B1, B2 and carotene -- all of which are vital to the human body.
|The 1st Eri silk group we worked with|
At TAMMACHAT, we put great importance on respecting the cultures in which we work. This often means leaving our judgments at home and, instead, trying to better understand the people who create the beautiful weavings we sell. So, when we were offered fried pupae, Ellen diplomatically tasted one. Later, I was delighted to see an FAO information booth at a fair in Vientiane, Laos, promoting the nutritional value of silk pupae and other insects.
|Fried pupae with sticky rice & fish|
With this knowledge, I continue to wear silk just as I continue to eat eggs. In either case I ask: Were the beings that provided these things for me treated cruelly? Was the environment destroyed or depleted in the process? And most importantly, did the people who laboured to provide me these natural goods endure unhealthy or unjust conditions, or were they treated with respect and appropriately paid?
|Handwoven vegan silk scarf coloured with ebony fruit|
More blog posts about Eri silk: