Contrary to what many believe, cockroaches are said to be clean and tasty insects. This is especially true when they are fed a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables. The bugs are eaten fried, sautéed, boiled, toasted and baked into bread. Although many are still uncomfortable with the idea of eating roaches, there are already plenty of insect-based recipes and several restaurants have begun putting bugs on their menus. Now, Andressa Lucas and Lauren Menegon, two Brazilian food scientists, have successfully turned a species of cockroaches into flour and are using it to bake bread.
When asked to taste the pair’s new bread concoction, many rejected the idea of insects as a food source. However, others who tasted the bread made with cockroach flour agreed that nearly no difference in taste was found. When more ingredients were added to make food such as cereal bars or cakes, this change in taste was even more difficult to detect. When speaking of the bread made with cockroaches, Lucas and Menegon said:
We chose the cockroach because it was the insect that had the highest protein content—almost 70 percent. It contains eight of the nine essential amino acids, it has high-quality fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-9) and we can use almost 100 percent of it, with very little residue. Insects are exceptionally effective in converting what they eat in nutritional structures that can be consumed by humans. Since they are rich sources of protein, they can enrich the human diet, especially for people suffering from malnutrition, and their consumption can help reduce the negative environmental impacts of livestock, since it requires less space and generate less pollution, so these factors were enough to convince us to start the research.
The bread is made using cockroaches from a specialized breeder, not the ones that are seen running or flying through people’s homes. These insects are hygienically produced and fed a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits. Insects are exceptionally effective in converting what they eat in nutritional structures that can be consumed by humans. Since they are rich sources of protein, they can enrich the human diet, especially for people suffering from malnutrition. These were important facts that helped influence the engineering duo’s decision to make bread with cockroaches.
To most people, cockroaches are disgusting intruders. To some, the insects become a staple ingredient for bread. However, to a few people, they are medicine. A farm in China is breeding 6 billion adult cockroaches a year for medicinal use. Operated by the pharmaceutical company Gooddoctor, the farm is equipped with rows of shelves lined with open containers of food and water in a concrete building covering an area of about two sports fields. It is kept warm, humid, and dark all year round, with an AI-powered system tracking how individual cockroaches are growing.
Is bread made with cockroaches creeping into a new normal? Well, the UN estimates that by 2050 there will be no land available for food production to supply the world’s growing population. In the case of insect breeding, smaller spaces are used and it is an extremely ecological production. Today scientists are using cockroaches for bread, but in the future, people may have to get used to this “insect” concept as a whole.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Oddity Central: Brazilian Scientists Bake Bread Out of Cockroach Flour
VICE Munchies: Meet the Scientists Who Are Making Bread with Cockroach Flour
Quartz: A Chinese farm is breeding 6 billion cockroaches a year for medicine
Top Image Courtesy of Ed Baker – Wikipedia Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Andressa Lucas and Lauren Menegon – Used With Permission