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Cockroach milk: Is this the most gross superfood yet?

Try it, we dare you

Natalie Ktena
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Can we interest you in a little cockroach milk to go with your cereal? Because this could be the next food fad on the horizon.

From cricket-coated donuts to insect-laced ice cream, we thought we’d heard it all. But a study has found that cockroach milk could be good for you, containing three times as much energy as dairy milk and packed with essential amino acids. That’s right: put down that soya-milk matcha tea and pour away the turmeric latte.

The thought of milk extracted from a cockroach's gut being good for us requires a serious stretch of the imagination. The sight of these scuttling roaches is typically more likely to elicit shrieks than induce a sense of wellbeing - a sentiment the Twittersphere seemed to share:

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Others voiced concern for the creepy crawlers:

Some people were excited by the concept:

But most of the chat focused on a single question: how exactly do you milk a cockroach?

Cockroach milk is sourced from the Pacific Beetle cockroach, a type of roach that gives birth to live offspring and produces 'milk', which it feeds its embryos through a 'brood sac' (essentially a cockroach womb). There is, in fact, no actual 'milking' involved: scientists need to carve out the cockroach’s gut in order to access the milk, which is in the form of crystals.

Dr Leonard Chavas, one of the study's co-authors tells BBC Three: “If you want to do that in mass production, it’s not easy. It takes time, it’s labour-intensive, and you don't get much for your efforts." 

He explains that to get even 100 grams you would have to kill upwards of 1,000 cockroaches. The milk is not really milk as we know it either. "Don't expect to make any ice-cream out of it," he says.

Dr Chavas claims that scientists in India are now developing a yeast that can produce a form of these energy-rich milk crystals which could, in turn, be used to make bread and beer.

Yes, you heard us: cockroach beer may one day turn up at a craft brewery near you.  

When we mention the idea to Dr Chavas, he can certainly picture it. "I’m pretty sure people going to rave parties would love to drink cockroach beer," he says.

Roaches seem to be the culinary gift that keeps on giving. People on backpacking trips through Asia often have the opportunity to sample local street foods like cockroach kebabs. Their high-protein content makes them a healthy snack, with the added benefit that chowing down on a roach or two could even help the environment.

Still, despite all that we're still not quite ready to embrace the idea of having cockroach milk with our fruit loops. There's just something about this superfood that really bugs us.

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