Filed under things you never wanted to hear about again: cockroach milk is apparently the fad that just won’t die — kind of like the bugs themselves.
The apparent health benefits of cockroach milk got a ton of press in 2016, and now, the stomach-churning beverage is making the news rounds once again. According to multiple outlets, nutrient-rich cockroach milk is the latest superfood to watch for on menus and store shelves worldwide.
WTF is cockroach milk?
In short, it’s the cockroach equivalent of human breast milk. The female Pacific beetle, one of the rare cockroach species that gives birth to live bugs, feeds her babies milk.
In 2016, researchers dissected baby roaches and discovered that roach milk forms tiny crystals after being digested by the babies — and these crystallized milk particles are loaded with nutrients.
“The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars,” study co-author Sanchari Banerjee explained to the Times of India. “If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”
In fact, the team published a paper in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography in 2016 concluding that cockroach milk is one of the most nutritious things you can drink. It has three times more calories than buffalo milk, which contains 236 calories and 9.2 grams of protein per cup. (Cockroach milk isn’t available just yet, meaning you’ll have to seek out your protein elsewhere. Here are some options.)
So Why Are We Talking About This Now?
The impetus for the renewed discussions around cockroach milk seems to be the South African company Gourmet Grubb, which is mentioned in nearly every recent story.
Established in 2017, the company sells ice cream made with insect milk, or entomilk, but it’s not clear whether the milk comes from roaches, specifically; Gourmet Grubb’s website simply states that its milk is “made from sustainably farmed insects.”
The company’s website proclaims:
We believe insects are the future of super foods. They are chock-full of ingredients and have the added benefit of being environmentally friendly and sustainable. Plus, they are a fantastic source of protein.
Is Cockroach Milk Really the Next Big Superfood?
Probably not. As The Independent reports, it takes a lot of cockroaches to make ample amounts of milk for human consumption. Plus, there’s not enough research to make this nauseating food appealing.
“On one hand, insect farms can be easily greener and more sustainable than bovine farming,” nutritionist Martina Della Vedova told The Independent. “But on the other hand, we don’t know what the effect of this food on us in the long term is and if there is a daily maximum amount we should consider. More studies and investigation should be conducted.”
Not to mention, there are plenty of other nutritious foods that more appetizing.