Dear God, Cockroach Milk Might Be The Next 'Superfood'
It’s a pretty universally accepted fact that cockroaches are nasty and you want nothing to do with them. But news reports are showing up everywhere, including the Daily Mail, about the potential health benefits of cockroach milk—yup, milk from cockroaches.
Hold up. What is cockroach milk?
People of course have been eating insects in non-Western cultures for centuries, and they are admittedly a pretty excellent protein source. And the cockroach milk “trend” isn’t that new.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography found that the Pacific beetle cockroach can make a crystallized “milk” that has a solid amount of protein with essential amino acids, fats, and sugars. They produce milk because they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs, according to the Washington Post. (And those kids have to eat something!)
The researchers also said that one crystal of cockroach milk “is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy milk.” In non-science speak, it has more calories and nutrients—so you can get more by drinking less.
I’ll regret asking this but: How do you milk a cockroach?
Leonard Chavas (who co-authored the above-mentioned study) explained to Inverse back in 2016 that you get the milk by cutting the roach open and removing the crystals. He said it could take half a day for one person to process milk from two to three roaches. Sounds like a major PIA (and also, disgusting).
When talking to Goop about cockroach milk, biologist Barbara Stay, Ph.D., said that the concept is good if you can get past the ick factor…but also pointed out that it’s kind of impossible to milk cockroaches at scale.
“You would have to kill about an army of the roaches to make one glass of milk,” agrees Beth Warren, R.D.N., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl. That’s a hard pass, thank you very much.
Is cockroach milk even worth trying?
If you’re wondering where to buy cockroach milk, South African company Gourmet Grubb is already using something called “Entomilk,” to make non-dairy ice cream. The company says it’s made from “sustainably-farmed insects.” It’s unclear if those insects include cockroaches, though. And it doesn’t appear to be available for sale at the moment.
And it’s probably good that you can’t currently buy cockroach milk. “It remains to be seen if the roach milk is safe for human consumption and, if it is, what nutrients will remain after processing,” says Katherine Brooking, R.D., co-founder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.
Plus, while it’s cool that cockroach milk is some kind of “superfood,” it also kind of doesn’t matter. “If you’re consuming an overall balanced diet, does it really matter that every single item you put in your mouth must be the Most Efficient Thing Ever?” says New York-based Jessica Cording, R.D.
The only scenarios she can see where someone may actually benefit from this would be if you have to restrict your fluid intake for medical reasons or you’re always on the go and want to be able to carry less but still have a protein-packed drink option.
It could also be an option for people who are lactose intolerant, Warren says. However, she adds, there are plenty of other non-buggy options out there already.
Basically, you shouldn’t expect cockroach milk to show up in your grocery store dairy aisle alongside cow’s milk, almond milk, and coconut milk any time soon. And honestly I am 10000 percent okay with that.
The bottom line: This is a trend that likely won’t go anywhere. Just add protein powder to your drink, says Cording. Or, you know, just drink regular milk.
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