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Cockroach husbandry in China
October 15, 2013 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Cockroaches being raised for cosmetics, medicine and food. "The 43-year-old businessman is the largest cockroach producer in China (and thus probably in the world), with six farms populated by an estimated 10 million cockroaches. He sells them to producers of Asian medicine and to cosmetic companies that value the insects as a cheap source of protein as well as for the cellulose-like substance on their wings."
posted by ChuckRamone (85 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
NO
posted by elizardbits at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


YES
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would rather eat a human.
posted by elizardbits at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nutritious, and pretty sustainable by 'protein' standards
posted by rosswald at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If evolutionary success gives you cockroaches, make cockroachade!
posted by ignignokt at 2:02 PM on October 15, 2013 [29 favorites]


la cucaracha la cucaracha... climbing up and down your face
posted by spicynuts at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Make evolutionary success take the cockroaches back.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Li reels off an impressive, if implausible, list of health claims: "I lost my hair years ago. I made a spray of cockroaches, applied it on my scalp and it grew back. I've used it as a facial mask and people say I haven't changed at all over the years.

"Ah, Li! You look just like you used to back in high school, when you also had a paste of dead cockroaches smeared across your face."
posted by Greg Nog at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2013 [62 favorites]


Perhaps understandably, the cockroach business ("special farming," as it is euphemistically called) is a fairly secretive industry.

Oh, man, that is an awesome euphemism.
posted by ignignokt at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


la cucaracha la cucaracha... wearing them is a disgrace
posted by rouftop at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somebody needs to send this guy to Mississippi. He can have all the cockroaches he wants.
posted by dgran at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


You guys ever seen the movie Creepshow?
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:07 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Look at how carmine red dye is made. It is also used in lots of your food.
posted by srboisvert at 2:11 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, two out of three's not bad. I can't afford most processed food or makeup. Though I do have a tube or three of lipstick. Medicine on the other hand. That I can't really avoid.
posted by bilabial at 2:17 PM on October 15, 2013


The industry was little known until August, when a million cockroaches got out of a farm in neighboring Jiangsu province.

Of course they got out. What did you think would happen? These things always end badly. Just look at what happened to Jurassic Park.
posted by naju at 2:18 PM on October 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


The news lately has been depressing and infuriating enough that reading about cockroach farms makes me think "Aww, that's nice! People making money and willingly eating insects! Bugcelsior!"
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you want a picture of the future, just imagine a bunch of cockroaches or something. Fuck.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


Wasn't this the plot to Halloween III?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2013


neat
posted by catwash at 2:21 PM on October 15, 2013


It is also used in lots of your food.

la la la la i can't hear you
posted by elizardbits at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Look at how carmine red dye is made. It is also used in lots of your food.

Came in hoping someone had already mentioned this, was not disappointed.

This is definitely neat. Interested parties should do some additional reading about cochineal farming -- they're scale insects, farmed on cacti until they are ~90 days old, then crushed and boiled or steamed to create red dye for food and cosmetics. Their egg sacs contain the most coloring. It's used in zillions of things, most commonly makeup, booze, yogurt, ice cream, candy, fruit juice (usually of the strawberry, cherry, or "ruby red" grapefruit variety), and even processed meats. It's been around for centuries.

NB the FDA did not even require products containing cochineal extract/carmine to be labeled as such until 2011. You've probably been eating and smearing bugs all over your face for years without even knowing it. Fun, eh? Some ingredients to watch out for, if that doesn't suit you: cochineal, cochineal extract, carmine, carminic acid, carmine lake, crimson lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, E120.
posted by divined by radio at 2:34 PM on October 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


"You will regret your whole life not [eating] them."

That is the single most wrong thing I have heard this day, week, month, year, and possibly my entire life.
posted by komara at 2:35 PM on October 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


It is also used in lots of your food.

la la la la i can't hear you


I thought you people liked cockroaches.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh Binkley!! Hello! Hello! Your closet of anxieties is again open for your subconscious displeasure! Well?! What horrors would you like tonight? Monsters? Poltergeists? Dentists? Wait! I know … Cockroaches walking on your ceiling!! Cockroaches walking on my ceiling? CLUMSY cockroaches walking on your ceiling! Yeah. Right. I'm terrified. Guess who sleeps with his mouth open!
posted by porn in the woods at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Can anyone who speaks Chinese give us an English transcript of the video?
posted by crapmatic at 2:53 PM on October 15, 2013


I would rather eat a human.

*eyes freshly bought copy of the french laundry cookbook*
posted by The Whelk at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Between legumes and insects for protein, I'll pick the latter honestly. Cows and pigs? Are those the things Americans had before the Eternal Dust Bowl?
posted by gorbweaver at 3:03 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: I would rather eat a human.

I may appear to be well-marbled, but you should be aware that I am surprisingly gristly and unpalatable.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:03 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can anyone who speaks Chinese give us an English transcript of the video?

On seeing the title, I decline.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:09 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can I just say, Fuck cockroaches. Fuck them hard and then burn them with fire.
If there is one thing I HATE with the burning passion of a million sins it's cockroaches.
posted by ShawnString at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I hope all of these jokes about cockroaches in my food and on my face are still funny when you're in hell.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:37 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


In Jiangsu, the roach coaches really ARE roach coaches!
posted by happyroach at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Quit your griping and eat your roach nuggets, brats.
posted by planetesimal at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


tonight you have ruined many things for me
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd marry a cockroach. I'm a real leg man.
posted by orme at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


posted by happyroach

Shameless propaganda from Big Roach!
posted by elizardbits at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


When all we have to left eat is algae, you'll miss those meaty little scamps.
posted by planetesimal at 3:43 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can anyone who speaks Chinese give us an English transcript of the video?

Here's a rough transcript (my Chinese is not so good and their accents are thick, so, uh, please correct me someone). Note that the first voice has a little catch phrase "hao hao hao fei chang hao" that he repeats. This means "Good good good very good good". It's oddly reassuring.

Voice 1, as the camera light scatters the roaches: Good good good ...Good...good...Good good...Very good...Good good good very good...Over here...good, good very good. Ok step over here...Good good good very good
Voice 2 (The videographer): Why step over here?
Voice 1: It will scare them. Good good good good .. very good ..good good. Ok walk over here and take a shot of the wall. Good good good.
Voice 2: This is a white wall(?), there aren't many on it. Wait til night time [or wait til it's dark?], then they'll all come out

They stop talking and you get to listen to the rainstick sounds of millions of cockroaches tumbling over each other against a backdrop of echo-y, whistling wind as the camera pans slowly over the rest of the shack.
posted by rhythm and booze at 3:52 PM on October 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


So you won't contribute to my free-range artisanal roach kickstarter campaign?
posted by dr_dank at 3:53 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Easier to farm than lobsters, the roaches of the sea.
posted by perhapsolutely at 3:54 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


When all we have to left eat is algae

this will never happen in my socialist cannibal utopia
posted by elizardbits at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


We eat people according to need.
posted by The Whelk at 4:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is just Men in Black in real life right

Where is my sweet suit and tiny gun? Because no to cockroach farms.

No no no no no.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "elizardbits: I would rather eat a human.

I may appear to be well-marbled, but you should be aware that I am surprisingly gristly and unpalatable.
"

And I am way too fatty and will kill you later by way of clogging your arteries.

Fuck! I hope they don't know I can't run at all!
posted by Samizdata at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


rainstick sounds of

Oh no.
posted by Houstonian at 4:18 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is NOT the food of my people. Let me re-iterate that, NOT THE FOOD OF MY PEOPLE. Sweet baby jeebus, it was hard enough to work out duck sauce and cream cheese wontons as oddities, now this. NO, NO, NO.
posted by jadepearl at 4:19 PM on October 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'd rather eat only lukewarm crab rangoons from the jankiest hole in the wall takeout place in Medford, MA for the rest of my life than one roach ever.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:21 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's actually no innards in the cockroaches, though, it's just cream cheese
posted by Greg Nog at 4:22 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel more secure knowing that Samizdata has just outed himself as slow-moving brisket. He's practically marinating himself.

In the event that I'm still on the menu, I would like to ask the cannibals on this thread to set their knives down for a moment and consider the possibility that I might be an ambulatory mass of thousands of cockroaches scarcely contained in a human-shaped leather sac.

Cockroach Popolac is my new band name. We will have no fans.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:22 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Somebody needs to send this guy to Mississippi. He can have all the cockroaches he wants.

Business opportunity knocking.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:25 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Orthodox Union the largest (one of the largest?) kosher certification agency says that "all fruit cocktail companies without reliable supervision use carmine to color the cherries". On the other hand, if they certify something then you know it doesn't have "carmine, civet, or castorium" [castoreum].
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there some sort of dance I can do to summon a meteor to destroy the earth? < shudder >
posted by Space Kitty at 4:26 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


[castoreum]

aka beaver butt juice
posted by elizardbits at 4:28 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, I could totally see myself trying it. As long as it was presented a little different than the grasshoppers I tried. They were actually quite tasty, baked in soy sauce and sugar so they were crispy and salty and sweet. The problem of course is that you have to see what it is you're eating, which is an intact dead bug. Kind of makes it hard to go back for more after eating a few to be polite. I think if you made them into something else--maybe a breading or ground up and included as an ingredient in something else--it would be totally fine. Just a question of getting over the initial EWW BUGS reaction.
posted by Hoopo at 4:33 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


use carmine to color the cherries

Wow, really? How unripe do these companies get the cherries they work with? The cherries I get are so red they'll die your fingers by themselves, no help from boiled bugs required.
posted by Hoopo at 4:35 PM on October 15, 2013


I would like to ask the cannibals on this thread to set their knives down for a moment and consider the possibility that I might be an ambulatory mass of thousands of cockroaches scarcely contained in a human-shaped leather sac.

It's okay we can cut off a sample while you're restrained in an isolation chamber.

It's not like you're an Australian or anything.
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "I feel more secure knowing that Samizdata has just outed himself as slow-moving brisket. He's practically marinating himself."

His body temperature has risen to over 400 degrees - he's literally stewing in his own juices.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:26 PM on October 15, 2013


my socialist cannibal utopia

I have a better idea.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Good, good, good, very good, good." I think that's the voice of someone who's eaten too many cockroaches in his life. Horrifying.
posted by limeonaire at 6:10 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Roach tastes like ammonia and death. I know whereof I speak! Beware! I share my story for the good of the world, though it brands me a pariah in need of cleansing by fire!
posted by nicebookrack at 6:21 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is just Men in Black in real life right

Yeah, I think Li is just a roach in an Edgar suit.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:34 PM on October 15, 2013


The grossest part to eat for me would be the fat body.

"Ever crunch a cockroach? The white gunk that squirts out is the fat body. Like fat in humans, it stores energy. It also breaks down nutrients to provide energy, and helps treat or detoxify insecticides that may be sprayed on the roach (no wonder they're so tough to get rid of)."


Also, eating one with an egg sac that it hadn't ejected yet would be really gross. I once crushed a cockroach and a freaking egg sac squirted out of its rear and onto the floor. I was really horrified by that. And when I tried to clean it up, it adhered to floor.
posted by ChuckRamone at 6:37 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


COCKROACH! APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE KITCHEN!
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:42 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're reading this thread, you guys.
posted by planetesimal at 6:44 PM on October 15, 2013


Why did I click on this thread to read as I am eating lunch. Why.

Also, fun fact: if you don't keep your kitchen meticulously clean in tropical areas, you get lots of cockroaches! So if you're feeling the pinch, the crumbled crumb of a slice of bread can get you meals for days...
posted by owlrigh at 6:55 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


*curls into brightly lit corner, whimpering*
posted by BlueHorse at 6:59 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


perhapsolutely has it right. now do you crustacean eaters know what I feel when I see you chowing down at a crawfish joint? utter skin-crawling horror.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:03 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


ChuckRamone: Also, eating one with an egg sac that it hadn't ejected yet would be really gross. I once crushed a cockroach and a freaking egg sac squirted out of its rear and onto the floor.

The brain cells responsible for storing my work passwords and wedding anniversary have just been overwritten with the thought that Cockroach Abortion would be an awesome name for a death metal band.
posted by dr_dank at 8:49 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Arthropositively delicious
posted by perhapsolutely at 9:58 PM on October 15, 2013


> the burning passion of a million sins

That's a lot of burning passion.
posted by hattifattener at 10:02 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously, and previously-er. Looks like 2013 is the year of the bugs.
posted by meowzilla at 10:07 PM on October 15, 2013


Why doesn't the Remove From Recent Activity button work for my brain

mods i would like to submit a bug report

i report that i do not like bugs
posted by elizardbits at 10:13 PM on October 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


as well as for the cellulose-like substance on their wings

And, of course, for the endless nightmares.
posted by Zed at 10:44 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now I know my former neighbor used his drug dealing as a cover for his REAL business! Ro errrr 'Special Farming' ...
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:46 PM on October 15, 2013


It's used in zillions of things, most commonly makeup, booze, yogurt, ice cream ...

Not to mention woodblock prints!
posted by woodblock100 at 11:49 PM on October 15, 2013


How do you get from "Hi, I'm an industrial chemist, let's make a new skin cream" to "Then we'll puree the dried bodies for extra bulk" and not cry yourself to sleep at night?
posted by bystander at 12:02 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you hate cockroaches, cockroach farming is for you! Raise 'em and kill 'em. Slowly and painfully.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:30 AM on October 16, 2013


I almost died reading this article way too fast twice, muttering "where is it. Where is it!"

I just moved back to China and I'm living in the subtropics for the first time in my life and there are already way too many cockroaches here, including the one that almost fell on my head the first day of school.

The teacher who came to let me into my classroom said "After you." She opened the door and a cockroach, which much have been perched on top of it like a bucket of slime on a Nickelodeon show from the 80s, fell at my feet.

I am an adult, so I didn't scream or run away or demand that my partner take this classroom instead. I just backed away slowly. The other teacher seemed really confused, then stomped it to death with her sparkly white platform sandals.

I've never seen cockroaches for sale in food markets or on those tourist streets where you can get a stick of scorpions or cocoons. When I lived in Shandong, people would order cocoons sometimes during fancy dinners and I often passed people selling scorpions on on the sidewalk (a huge bucketful of little guys crawling all over each other) but never cockroaches. I make it a point to at least try all the food, but no. Nope. No. I don't think this is a normal Chinese thing to eat and I'm glad of it because yuck.
posted by MsDaniB at 1:31 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


nope nope nope nope I want to freak out and tear off all my skin just from thinking about it. I would not put a cockroach in my mouth if my head was cut off and my mouth was thirty feet away.
posted by rifflesby at 2:18 AM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nope. nope. nope. nope. So much nope on a stick.
posted by halcyonday at 4:20 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine runs an awesome soda-fountain/ice-cream store/toy-store. The employees dress like old-timey soda jerks with bow ties and they make hard candy right there in the store. So he posted on facebook "Now featuring Vegan Maraschino Cherries" and I asked him, is this some kind of joke? Aren't they all vegan? It's just cherries and sugar-water, right?

Wrong. It's bugs. Your favorite ice-cream sundae has bugs.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:45 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look how beautiful they are. So shiny!

This is true of a great many things that I would not want to put in my mouth or on my face.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:32 AM on October 16, 2013


10 PRINT "NOPE."
20 GOTO 10
posted by mrbill at 10:44 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gee, I'm starring to get a great idea for a horror film...
posted by happyroach at 3:37 PM on October 16, 2013


Diet cockroach steak recipe:

1 cockroach
1 tbsp. butter
1 cast iron pan

Instructions:

1. Preheat the pan.
2. Add the butter.
3. Push the cold butter clump around the pan with a wooden spatula until it melts and sizzles slightly.
4. Change your mind about the cockroach.
5. Drink the hot butter.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:29 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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