Do People Eat Cockroaches? (And do you??)

Do people eat cockroaches

If you’re like many people, you probably think cockroaches are gross pests that are nothing more than a nuisance. Of course, most of us would never even consider these insects as a snack or a meal, but that’s not the consensus around the world.

Hunting and gathering insects for food have been commonplace since the start of civilization. As a result, there is a large number of people around the world who consume cockroaches regularly. Whether they eat them regularly as part of their diet or on a dare, it’s surprisingly not unsanitary to eat a cockroach.

Eating cockroaches may sound gross to you, but for other people, it’s completely normal. And I hate to break this to you, but you’ve probably eaten cockroaches before without even knowing it. Insect byproducts are in a lot of the products and foods you buy from the grocery store. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits how many cockroaches and other insects can be in your meal.

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What Countries Consume Cockroaches?

Do People Eat Cockroaches?
Do People Eat Cockroaches?

In some countries around the world, eating cockroaches is entirely normal, and they’re consumed regularly. Some countries where consuming these insects and others are popular include China, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, The Netherlands, Ghana, and even the United States.

Now, not everyone eats plates full of cockroaches, but these bugs are still considered a great meal in many parts of these and other countries.

The majority of people consume cockroaches without even realizing it. For example, certain dyes are made from insects, and if you use those products or eat foods with that dye, you’re eating cockroaches and other bugs.

Why Do People Eat Cockroaches?

If you’ve never eaten bugs, especially cockroaches, you’re probably wondering why on Earth someone would want to eat them. One of the reasons that some people consume cockroaches is for medicinal reasons.

In China, cockroaches are a popular ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Cockroaches have been said to help various medical conditions, such as respiratory conditions and stomach ulcers. It’s even been told that since cockroaches are such strong immune systems, that if you consume them, you’ll improve your immune system.

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Doctors won’t send you home with a jar of cockroaches, though. Instead, specific components are extracted from the bugs and then include in a liquid medication or put into a capsule to help alleviate your symptoms.

The other reason that many people eat cockroaches is that they surprisingly taste delicious. Whether you find these insects delicious or not probably will depend on how you prepare them.

Is it Sanitary to Eat Cockroaches?

Do People Eat Cockroaches?
Do People Eat Cockroaches?

When you think of cockroaches, you probably think of these insects crawling around dirty environments. While that does tend to happen, it’s not as unsanitary as you may think when it comes to eating cockroaches.

Of course, if you see a cockroach crawling on your food, you won’t want to eat that. These insects can carry bacteria that can make you sick. But when someone prepares cockroaches as a meal correctly, you won’t get sick. Well, you may get a little sick to your stomach thinking about eating them, but bacteria isn’t something you’ll need to worry about.

Even though cockroaches can carry bacteria that can be harmful to humans, they only have so much bacteria. Consuming even a large number of cockroaches isn’t going to kill you. You may get a stomach ache, but even that is highly unlikely.

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Do They Eat Cockroaches Plain or in Other Dishes?

So how do people eat cockroaches? The answer to this is that it depends. In many places in the world, people prepare cockroaches like they would any other meal.

Cockroaches are commonly consumed when they’re served on top of fresh vegetables and fruits. Besides that, you can cook these insects in similar ways to chicken, beef, and pork. Many people choose to cook cockroaches by sautéing them, boiling them, or frying them.

Often you’ll find cockroaches as a protein in familiar dishes. For example, in China, you can order your chicken stir fry with cockroaches instead. However, many people who enjoy eating cockroaches claim that most people don’t understand who tasty they can be until they try them.

In The Netherlands, some restaurants are trying to make the consumption of bugs more “normal.” For example, they offer what you think is a traditional hamburger, but the patty is made with cockroaches and other ingredients instead.

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Do People Eat Cockroaches?
Do People Eat Cockroaches?

As mentioned earlier, you’ve probably eaten cockroaches before and never even knew. In many common foods, you can find cockroach particles. If you’ve ever bitten into a delicious chocolate bar, you’ve eaten cockroaches. The average chocolate bar has around eight pieces of cockroaches mixed in.

Other common foods that contain some portion of cockroach parts include peanut butter, some cheese, popcorn, fruits, and macaroni. Of course, you’re not going to be biting into the head of the cockroach when eating any of these products. But you can find ground-up pieces in these foods.

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Where Do They Get the Cockroaches They Eat?

It’s different in every country, but there are farmers in China that sustainably farm these insects to sell for consumption. In addition, many Chinese farmers have found success in farming these insects in a hygienic environment.

Ensuring that the cockroaches are farmed in hygienic environments helps to keep those who consume them safe from any harmful bacteria they may be carrying.

While many people who eat cockroaches are ordering them from restaurants that will source them from farmers, this isn’t always the case. In very rural areas, many people will hunt for cockroaches to eat. Finding a cockroach on the ground isn’t the most sanitary way to consume these bugs, but you have to do what you have to do to find food in many parts of the world.

People all around the world eat cockroaches. From Asia to Africa, to South America and the United States, cockroaches are part of the human diet. Whether it’s in popular dishes or for mere survival, cockroaches aren’t as unsanitary as you may think. Instead, they have holistic medicinal properties, and they make for a memorable and delicious meal.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.