Got Cockroach Milk?

Cockroach milk
Cockroach milk is one of the most nutritious substances on Earth, so bottoms up everyone! Christopher Robbins/Getty Images/HowStuffWorks

Stop the world and let me off. Scuttlebutt from the superfood sector has it that cockroach milk could become a new niche in the non-dairy milk craze.

Americans love their dairy-free alternative milks. Non-dairy milk sales grew 61 percent over the past five years, skyrocketing to an estimated $2.11 billion in 2017. Soy, almond and coconut are the current top faves, but other plant-based milks including pecan, cashew, macadamia, hazelnut, quinoa, flax, oat, rice and hemp are also on the rise. And a new market research report predicts that global plant-based milk sales will exceed $34 billion by 2024.


But cockroach milk? Seriously?

The chatter about cockroach milk first started in 2016 when a study published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography reported that the milk-like substance found in the midgut of the Pacific beetle cockroach is one of the most nutritious substances on Earth. The Diploptera punctata, which is the only cockroach known to give birth to live young (instead of laying eggs like regular roaches) produces protein crystals that are what scientists call a complete food, containing proteins, fats and sugars. Just one of these crystals has more than three times the amount of energy in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk – which has more calories than plain old cow's milk. Bottom line: It's packed with calories and nutrients.

Because milking cockroaches isn't a viable option, an international team of researchers headed by scientists from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India have figured out a way to sequence the genes that produce the milk protein crystals. They hope to eventually employ yeast as an efficient way to produce the milk-yielding protein crystals in large quantities. The study suggests that because it's such a dense, time-released protein source, cockroach milk could help alleviate food insecurity around the world.

The late philosopher and self-help guru, Dr. Wayne Dyer, once queried this food for thought: Can you see the beauty in a cockroach? With apologies to Dr. Dyer and to Dr. Seuss: I would not, could not, from a jug. I would not, could not, from a mug. I do not like and will not chug alterna-milk made from a bug.

Would you?