So it turns out that cockroach milk is remarkably rich in protein, fat and sugar, and we’re probably all going to be chugging it in the near future.
The Pacific Beetle Cockroach feeds its bug babies by implanting the “milk,” in the form of protein crystals, into the guts of their little baby roaches.
Leonard Chavas, one of the scientists behind the research say he and his colleagues extracted one of these crystals to learn more about it and its potential nutrition. Following tests and even genome sequencing, they discovered it was a complete food.
Scientists are theorizing that the insect milk may someday be transformed into a food supplement worthy of human consumption.
So, how do you milk a cockroach?
The crystals are currently extracted from the midgut of cockroach embryos — perhaps not the most efficient way of feeding a growing world population.
Ultimately, however, Chavas and his team are hoping to reverse bioengineer cockroach milk, but first they need to understand the exact biological and chemical mechanisms underlying the process.
“For now, we are trying to understand how to control this phenomena in a much easier way, to bring it to mass production,” Chavas said.
Having lost a drinking game with his colleagues, Chavas tasted the cockroach milk once. “No particular taste,” he commented, though the idea of ice cream appeals to him. He imagines “a flavor with honey and crispy pieces.”
Laugh as you may, there is no irony lost on the fact that that this insect that can survive a nuclear disaster may someday provide the ultimate liquid superfood.