Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Healthy Meal of Roaches, Anyone?

Cockroach farmer Li Bingcai shows dehydrated whole roaches, used as medication, at his Yibin farm in Sichuan, China, March 25, 2019. Image credit: AFP

I have met many naysayers who refuse to believe that cockroaches are edible. Not only that but they are delicacies. 

Alongside ants, beetles, centipedes, cicadas, crickets, dragonflies, earthworms, grasshoppers, locusts, mayflies, scorpions, stinkbugs, tarantulas, termites, woodlice and many others.

I read in The Star Online yesterday which informed us of farmer Li Bingcai in the southwestern Sichuan province, China who breeds cockroaches for medicinal purposes and wait… for human consumption!

(Note: Generally, China’s farm-raised roaches are used as medications, as animal feed or to get rid of food waste).

Though often associated with dirty environments, cockroaches are actually quite fastidious. They have a sharp sense of smell that is regulated through their antennae. They use their antennae to locate food, sniff out potential threats and find mates. 

Researchers have long observed that cockroaches use their forelegs to pull their antennae into their mouths and lick them from top to bottom to keep them clean. 

While it’s true they are relatively clean on the outside, the fact remains that they track dirt and grime throughout your house. 

The get-you-sick bacteria, that cockroaches carry is in their droppings. Yes, they bring diseases including Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. 

Please know that not all cockroaches are pests! Those you need to be concerned about are the uninvited ones living in your home.

Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches can actually be very clean and tasty insects, especially if they are fed on fresh fruits and vegetables. 

I know it so! And they can be eaten toasted, fried, sauteed, or boiled.
Li is careful about his colony of cockroaches. "We breed them in a hygienic environment. They eat proper food – nothing synthetic", he said. 

Li says he feeds them with a mixture of ground corn and fruit and vegetable peelings:

Image credit: Webpage, April 17, 2019

Just down the road from his roach farm is a restaurant that fries his bugs in famously spicy Sichuan sauce. 

“People don’t believe how good it is until they try some”, Li had told AFP

It has been said that customers have been clamoring for a taste after hearing about the dish’s health benefits, said owner Fu Youqiang, who cooks up to 30 orders a month. 

Diner Luo Gaoyi, who was trying the insect for the first time, described it as being “quite tasty, very fragrant, very crispy”.

Fried cockroaches in a spicy sauce has proved a surprise hit in a Yibin restaurant in Sichuan, China, April 16, 2019. Image credit: Webpage

Known colloquially as American cockroaches, the Periplaneta americana (left) is one of the largest species and are consumed as a cure for a variety of ailments from stomach ulcers to respiratory tract problems. Or as a tonic. 

Liu Daoyuan, chief specialist at the Yinchuan City Yongshou Medical Centre reportedly said that the bugs have detoxifying properties and might act as a diuretic. 

He went on to claim: "It is also effective for relieving sore throat, tonsillitis, (liver) cirrhosis and fluid build-up". 

Li himself believes that cockroaches have great immunity, which is why humans will absorb (their) benefits after eating them”. He noted that in China roaches are dubbed “Little Strong” because they can live for days even after being cut in half. 

And he said in marketingspeak: “I think that anything good for health should be eaten, no matter what it is”. 

Still, cockroaches and insects in general are known for their nutritional value – they are high in protein and low in fat. 

Be adventurous, try a roach or two or three today!

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