Cockroach Milk Superfood Craze

Just the thought of "cockroach milk" gives me a serious case of the "heebie jeebies," but when a new "superfood" trend comes about, at the very least, learning about it piques my interest. But as a former NYC apartment-dwelling resident, "cockroaches" and "food" are like oil and water. Or more like I'd rather drink a glass of oil and water than try even a droplet of cockroach milk.

Hey, it's non-dairy for all the lactose-intolerant folks out there looking for their milk-fix, but bugs and beverages don't exactly sound appetizing. I'd personally take the debilitating stomach cramps and explosive diarrhea before pouring myself an ice-cold glass of "bug juice." But what is cockroach milk exactly, and why are experts saying it's so good for us?

As per Health, "The buzz started in 2016, when an international team of researchers conducted a nutritional analysis of the milk-like substance that female Pacific beetle cockroaches produce and feed to their offspring. The scientists discovered that cockroach milk (which is not technically milk, but a yellowish fluid that solidifies into crystals in the offspring's stomachs) is one of the most nutritious substances on the planet."

Apparently, you can extract the substance by essentially "milking" the cockroach (holy cow?), as NPR puts it. "'You substitute a filter paper in the brood sac for the embryos and you leave it there,' Barbara Stay, a professor emerita at the University of Iowa explains. 'After a while, you take it out and you get the milk.'"

And this is no ordinary milk. Its nutritional value is through the roof, "among the most nutritious substances on Earth," as reported by NPR, "three times richer in calories than buffalo milk (the previous top contender for the most protein- and calorie-rich milk." Cockroach milk also "contains protein and amino acids, valuable to human health," as Health notes.

Got milk?

So how does it taste? Reports claim it does not have much of a flavor at all, which is a relief for those who could only imagine chomping down on a cockroach. Supposedly, if people were to begin drinking the stuff in place of some other kind of milk, an added flavor of some kind would need to be added to make it pleasing…or at least palatable.

And what about the logistics of getting this "milk" into coffee shops and onto store shelves and shopping carts? After all, cockroaches are pretty small, as frightening as finding one in your studio apartment may be. As USA Today puts it, "The only way for this to be produced is to introduce the gene into an organism that could make it quickly in a tank. The process might work in yeast, but even that is unlikely anytime soon." As nutritious as this milk may be, I, for one, am in no rush to buy or try it. Almond milk is fancy enough for my bran flakes.

Would you try cockroach milk? Perhaps if it comes in capsule form it won't be as tough to swallow.

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