Hey everyone! Ee Kin and I went to Sin Ma Claypot Live Bull Frog Porridge in the Beauty World area. We sadly couldn’t talk to the owners of the shop to learn about where they source their frogs from, but we managed to speak to a few other patrons of the shop.
Q: How often do you eat frog?
Answer: “I love frog leg porridge, but I rarely eat it because it’s expensive.” (Although it’s pricey, the interviewee said he was eating it today since he just got back from Japan, and was craving frog leg since they don’t sell it overseas).
I also did not realise until I checked the menus of other frog leg porridge shops myself, but frog legs are quite expensive. Was it due to the perception of frog legs as a delicacy, like it is in France? In Singapore, I don’t think this is so. Frog leg porridge is sold at hawker centres, and in Chinese cuisine it is a relatively common dish rather than a luxury one. Instead, it could be due to the unexpectedly high cost needed to feed farmed frogs. A large proportion of the operation costs of frog farms comes from feeding, due to the fact that a lot of the feed does not get eaten by the frogs! Frogs only eat moving prey, so a lot of pellets or dead insects are simply ignored by the frogs.
This led me to think about how much food remains in the water, and how this could lead to eutrophication. In fact, this paper does bring up how effluent from frog farms must be treated before being discharged, as it is high in nutrients. It is inevitable in all forms of farming that bad practices can lead to unsustainable consequences, but given the lack of research done about frog farming, it seems even more likely that frog farming can go unregulated and cause environmental problems.
Q: Are frog legs popular in Singapore?
Answer: “Honestly, I don’t think so. You rarely hear someone say ‘hey, let’s go eat frog’. A lot of my other friends find it quite gross.”
I also believe eating frog legs is not exactly normalised in Singapore. From a quick Google Maps search, I could only find about 50 places which sold frog dishes. The market for it in Singapore seems to be quite small, so I am inclined to believe that our local Jurong Frog Farm is able to supply a substantial proportion of outlets.
Q: Does it matter where your frog came from?
Answer: “Not really. I trust the SFA’s (Singapore Food Agency) certifications, so long as it’s a legal establishment I don’t really think about it.”
I definitely do not expect everybody to deeply mull over every ingredient they eat, especially as excessively worrying about making an “objectively best” decision can lead to stress and anxiety. However, the answer I received is a sign of the general indifference towards being environmentally conscious of our food. Since our food consumption plays such a large part in the global carbon footprint, it would be great if more people could learn more about where their food comes from and how they have a role towards reducing emissions.