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Ask any New Yorker, and they will tell you that cockroaches are the bane of their existence. The way they scurry across the floor at the worst moments (like when you have company), their hissing ways, and their scaly exterior is enough to put most people out of an appetite. Ironically enough, however, it seems that scientists have branded the unsightly insect as the future of food. Why? Well, apparently behind that hard shell, cockroaches have nutrient-dense milk. This milk is for their babies, but let’s follow the mindset of the scientists and get to the waaay more important part: protein!

The milk from the embryo of a cockroach apparently has a hefty amount of protein, in addition to lipids, sugars, and amino acids. In fact, researchers are saying that these protein crystals are the most nutritious substance, per weight, yet discovered. Don’t worry, we’re as dumbfounded as you are. And the stats just keep coming. Cockroach milk also contains three times more energy, or calories, than buffalo milk, making it the top contender for a protein with the most calories.

If the idea of drinking milk that came out of a cockroach disgusts you, first off, you’re likely not alone. However, if you believe that this is merely a passing fad or a trend you can simply choose to not partake in, we are afraid you are mistaken. The whole reason that scientists have started experimenting with bugs as alternative sources for both meat and dairy, is not because they get their kicks from playing with bugs in a lab like a kid in the sun with a magnifying glass. It’s because our food system is broken, and we have to start thinking of ways to fix it … fast.

While over the last decade, several plant-based alternatives have debuted in both the meat and dairy market, scientists are thinking much more long-term and planning for a much grimmer future. The world is warming, our water supply is decreasing, and our use of land is wildly irresponsible. Our current food system currently uses 23 percent of available freshwater, occupies around 45 percent of land, and is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector – and yet, at this rate, 850 million people still suffer from hunger. If we continue to expand this broken industry, one day very soon, we may not have arable land for any type of food and dairy production, whether it’s grazing cows or planting almonds. But cockroaches are an insect that can survive in what seems like any condition.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to start mentally preparing to down a roach milkshake yet, though. We still have time to change the path we are on and create a functioning food system that will not only survive in coming years but flourish. By choosing to  leave meat and dairy off of your plate more often, and choosing to eat more plant-based alternatives, you are playing your part in preserving the environment, our precious water supply and resources, and creating a food system that ensures our food ends up on kitchen tables and not to feed livestock. We have the power to change the food system, we simply have to realize this fact and act on it. If anything, do it to avoid drinking roach milk.

To learn more about how you can use your food choices to benefit the planet, join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign and also check out what the real Future of Food really looks like.

Image source: Chaipanya/Shutterstock