Food news: Cockroaches produce milk & we're supposed to be drinking it

Which poses the age-old question: How exactly do you milk a cockroach?

Kale was followed by quinoa was followed by black pudding, giving us hope that so-called “superfoods” were finally heading in a direction we could get behind.

Then scientists served us up a heaping plate of nope with a side of please don’t make me, announcing that our newest nutritional hero comes directly from the mammary glands of a cockroach.

Before you completely freak out, it’s worth pointing out that we’re not talking about the cockroaches hanging around your rubbish bin; the Pacific Beetle Cockroach is found in Asia and the Pacific islands and is “the only known viviparous cockroach.”

Which, in our opinion, leads us to the most disturbing part about this story: They give birth to live young, just like mammals.

But that means they produce a sort of milk, too, and an international team of scientists are pretty excited about it.

“They have found this crystal inside this cockroach… They’ve found out it’s actually composed of protein, and also lipid – or fats – and lots of sugars,” Professor John Carver explained to SBS Science.

“There’s the three components that are really important for nutrition, and so it’s a highly nutritious source of food for the growing cockroach.”

And, apparently, for growing humans; the senior author of the study, Subramanian Ramaswamy added that “if you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released and food that is complete, this is it.”

Professor Carver was quick to reassure anyone concerned with the logistics of milking a cockroach (we’re imagining tiny milking sheds) that producing large-scale quantities of the milk would “require a bit of biotechnology.”

“They wouldn’t go and kill lots of cockroaches for it,” he said. “They would isolate the gene for this protein from the cockroach, and then express it and grow it up in a yeast system in very large microbiological vats.”

If they don’t call it Beetle Juice, we give up.

By Deirdre Fogarty

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