Nowadays, it seems like you can’t go anywhere online without hearing about some new “craze” happening. This year alone, we’ve seen some of the strangest nail art creations ever, the ever-growing, cannabis-based nationwide menu, and a bevy of eyebrow-raising (pun intended) beauty trends. As strange as these trends may seem, there seems to be an even stranger one on the horizon – “insect superfoods.”
It’s not a big surprise that the world is looking for the next big superfood craze. Superfoods, by definition, are foods that tend to come with a high amount of nutrients, which makes them good for your well-being and your overall health. We live in a society where many of us sit behind the desk all day and then spend the rest of our night cuddled up on the couch with a blanket and a big bowl of popcorn, binge-watching the latest original Netflix original show. Unlike our ancestors, we’re far less mobile and therefore need to find ways to get the nutrients we need. This is one of the reasons why there’s such a big market for superfoods.
And people are taking advantage of it!
According to the Independent, there’s a growing superfood industry for insects.
It’s on pace to yield 1,500kg of the edible protein this year, much of which is ground into an ingredient for products from chocolate and crispbread to bar snacks and breakfast granola.
You read that right! The little critters you squish under your shoes are finding their way into the cheap and quick foods you buy near the cash register.
This insect superfood craze may be something new to us here in the West, but there’s already a thriving industry for it in the East.
Insects, already part of the diets of two billion people, mainly in Asia, are set to reach more dining tables as consumer concern about the environmental and social costs of producing beef, pork and poultry overrides the yuck factor of eating bug-filled burger. Using little land and emitting a fraction of the greenhouses gases generated by cattle, that appeal will grow as a surging population stretches scarce global resources.
As strange as it sounds to eat these creepy crawlies, they are a great alternative to saving the blue planet. Part of the world is already reaping the benefits of this insect craze, and some people, according to Independent, believe it’s only going to grow.
Edible insects are a “super-food,” according to Massimo Reverberi, the founder of Bugsolutely, which makes pasta from cricket flour in Thailand and silkworm snacks for the Chinese market.
So, what’s the evidence we have that the West might be catching onto this strange, yet potentially eco-friendly change in diet? Back in late May/early June, the buzz of “cockroach milk” made its way into the news cycle. Prior to this year, the insects made their way into trending news back in 2016.
The crunchy little critters, according to Livescience.com, are scientifically called “Diploptera punctate” and no they’re not exactly the same bugs you saw crawling around in the 1996 musical-comedy Joe’s Apartment. They’re located in “the tropical forests of the Polynesian islands.”
What makes them so special is how oddly close to human milk their milk is.
‘Not only are they carrying their offspring, but they are prodding them with a milky secretion,’ Emily Jennings, a doctoral student in the University of Cincinnati Department of Biological Sciences and the lead researcher on this project, told Live Science. The milky secretion is made up of carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients necessary for baby roaches, she explained.
In other words, simply drinking this roach-created superfood will give you nearly all the daily nutrients you’ll need.
In the published report from Journal of the International Union of Crystallography, the researchers determined that the curious beverage has some of the highest nutrient values in a drink that you will find anywhere.
There is a pretty big hurdle that comes with the production of cockroach milk however. As Independent.co.uk reports, it will take many, many, many cockroaches to make just one glass for a single human. Additionally, more research is needed in order to figure out what the long term consequences are for consuming it.
But if there’s one thing that humanity has proven in the last year or two is that we’re willing to try anything … even something as silly and poisonous as a Tide pod.