Move over kale; there’s a new superfood in town.
It’s called cockroach milk, which immediately brings to mind a farm with millions of tiny heffers hooked up to even tinier milkers, the collective ministrations going to giant vats of milky-white substance that somehow has more calories than that of a full-grown cow.
Only one of those thoughts is actually true though: cockroach milk does have more calories than milk from a cow. Everything else is not what at all what happens.
For starters, these aren’t your average cockroaches. The milk-producing roaches in question are the Pacific beetle cockroaches, or Diploptera punctata, which are found in Australia, Myanmar, China, Fiji, Hawaii, and India. Unlike most insects, these Pacific roaches produce live young instead of eggs, so they have to feed their young something as soon as they are born.
That something is a yellowish fluid that crystallizes in the baby roach’s stomach into food. Extremely nutrient-dense food that is packed with three times the calories as the milk from a Buffalo, which has the highest amount of calories of any milk produced by a mammal.
Sanchari Banerjee, a researcher at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India, also mentioned that “The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars.” This milk provides a full meal for the little baby roaches. Perhaps it could be beneficial for humans to get all of these nutrients from one source?
There are a lot of benefits in switching to roach milk from cow's milk. To start, there’s no lactose in roach milk, so vegans and a growing number of lactose intolerant folks could chug it down without any issue (besides the fact they’re drinking fluids from a bug-- gross).
What's more, cows account for up to 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the enormous amount of land needed to cultivate them. Cut out the cows and suddenly there’s more land for trees to suck out some of that CO2.
But there are a few problems with switching to roach milk. The biggest and most obvious problem is safety since there hasn’t been nearly enough research done to see if it’s safe for human consumption. Second is taste, which according to NPR, is "like pretty much nothing."
Then there’s also the whole “farming” aspect. You can’t actually hook up a bunch of tiny insects to a milking machine. Instead, Health reports that researchers are looking to genetically engineer a type of yeast that will produce the exact same chemical substance as the Pacific roach's milk.
A milk coming from a bunch of bacteria sounds marginally better to drink than milk that came from a cockroach, but only marginally.
Will you be trying this milk if it is ever made commercially available? Let us know in the comments!