SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Is there a time in the future when the voice of a barista might ring out, latte with cockroach milk? Pour a cup of coffee while we tell you about the female Pacific beetle cockroach. She does not lay eggs like most insects. She gives birth to live babies.
BARBARA STAY: It's a delightful little cockroach, not the kind that runs in sewers and is a pest in kitchens and bakeries.
SIMON: That's Barbara Stay. She was working in a lab at the University of Iowa when she discovered that Pacific cockroach beetle embryos take in food from their mother.
STAY: What they were drinking that was being produced by the food sack - by the uterus, essentially, of the mother - was a liquid substances that they were sucking in. But in the gut, crystals formed. And so it was after I discovered they were drinking it that I saw these crystals in the gut.
SIMON: Another researcher, Professor Subramanian Ramaswamy in Bangalore, India, took a closer look at those crystals.
SUBRAMANIAN RAMASWAMY: It turns out that weight by weight, this is three times more calorific value than, say, buffalo milk.
SIMON: That's three times richer in calories than buffalo milk. One scientist apparently took a taste of the yellowish substance and found it tasted like nothing. So you could, in theory, splash it into coffee or pour it over cornflakes. So could a competitive health food market that already stocks cow, goat, almond, soy, cashew, hemp, rice and coconut milk now see cockroach milk as the next superfood?
RAMASWAMY: In principle, it's a protein coming from a living organism, so in principle it should be fine. But today, there is no evidence that it is actually safe for human consumption.
SIMON: What a relief. Cockroaches must be hard to milk anyway.
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