In some parts of the world, creepy crawlies are considered tasty morsels. But closer to home, they have tended to turn stomachs – that is until now.
Why? Because bugs are being hailed as the next big thing in the world of wellbeing.
According to a 2016 scientific study, the crystal-form milk of the Pacific beetle cockroach – otherwise known as Diploptera punctata – actually offers many nutritional benefits to humans.
“The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars,” one of the main researchers Sanchari Banerjee told the Times of India upon the study’s release.
“If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”
In fact, just one crystal of the milk “is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy milk,” according to the authors.
But as for cockroach milk becoming the next almond milk, it might be a little tricky. For starters, the cockroaches don’t survive the extraction process. On top of that, a vast number of roaches are required to produce just one glass of milk – a major challenge for mass production.
Nonetheless, you may still be seeing sustainably farmed insects on a menu near you in the close future.
Companies like South Africa’s Gourmet Grubb are already selling an ice-cream substitute made from entomilk sourced from sustainably farmed insects.
“Think of entomilk as a sustainable, nature-friendly, nutritious, lactose free, delicious, guilt-free dairy alternative of the future,” the company says on its website.
It says the “milk” is rich in protein, iron, zinc and calcium.
Then there’s Grilo Protein which is selling organic energy bars made from crickets in the local market. It describes them as a “delicious, healthy and quick-fix snack loaded with vitamin B12 and all 9 essential amino acids”.
A 45 gram bar delivers 7.5 grams of protein.
“Crickets are the most sustainable protein on earth,” it says on its website.
“There are significant economic and environmental reasons to be eating insects: Crickets require less land, water, feed and energy than many other popular protein sources including beef, chicken or pork.”
With demand for protein on the rise – growing by 50% per capita over the last 40 years – perhaps new sources like these will become increasingly appetising over the years to come.