I received a big reaction from what some are calling the Roach Column, all of it from guys.
There were a couple of fellows who had used roaches for fish bait, but most were like the reader who said, "Maybe you can catch fish with them, but I'm not about to use 'em."
Vertis said "Yuck!" after reading it, adding, "I wouldn't eat a fish that ate a roach."
However, deep fat-frying sanitized those roach-eating fish, so when we were kids, we ate every one of them.
I have read there are cultures in China and other countries who deep fat-fry roaches, and gobble them like popcorn. The Chinese buy theirs from roach farmers, who raise them by the millions, and they are used in several Chinese cities to eliminate garbage.
After I read that, I realized El Dorado's old garbage dump, which was alive with roaches, was environmentally sound, since the roaches gobbled up tons of waste food and extended the life of the dump.
There are an estimated 100 roach farms in China, turning out six billion roaches a year to be eaten, used in the manufacture of cosmetics, and medicine. Roach farming in China is growing because of the benefits they bring.
Still, it might make for a good horror movie. The escape of several billion roaches would be like a brown wave rolling over the countryside. But the Chinese think of everything; one farm has a moat around it filled with fish, and escaping roaches are gobbled up. The fish get larger, and the Chinese harvest them along with the roaches.
The Chinese also produce a roach extract for growing hair and to treat intestinal disease. "The greatest effect of roaches are that they have great immunity, which is why humans will absorb benefits after eating them," said a roach farmer, noting that in China roaches are dubbed Little Strong because they can live for days even after being cut in half.
The Chinese are doing research using roach extract to see if it can cure cancer and other diseases, since roaches have such strong immune systems. Wouldn't it be a hoot if a disliked little insect leads the way in curing cancer? Maybe looking ahead, considering all the new diet plans, there may come a time when your doctor prescribes a diet heavy with roaches.
Another Chinese farmer estimates his farm sells several million roaches a year, some to a cafe down the road that has them on the menu. According to some western observers they are pretty tasty--as you bite down there is a crunch like you are eating celery, then a sweet taste, which probably takes some getting used to. I would imagine that it wouldn't be that hard, if you understood Chinese, to find a recipe for roaches in dipping sauce.
The Chinese say roaches are a good source of protein, and with the earth's population continuing to grow, we are probably going to need every source of protein we can come up with.
Who knows, maybe eating roaches is something like eating crawfish. I can remember catching crawfish for fish bait, but the idea of boiling one, peeling the tail, dipping it in sauce, and eating it never crossed my mind.
One of our neighbors, who spends way too much time in Louisiana, loves to suck crawfish heads. How far is that from eating roaches? Or snails? I know you don't eat raw snails, but you do eat raw oysters. The first man to eat a raw oyster had to be really hungry.
Maybe roaches are getting a bad rap. Take crickets. They are bugs just like roaches. Maybe if Walt Disney had created Jiminy Roach instead of Jiminy Cricket, we would have a different opinion. As animated roaches march across a kitchen cabinet dressed in little pink suits with top hats, standing on two of their six legs twirling canes, you would be smiling and enjoying the show.
Roaches are little vacuum cleaners who tidy a messy kitchen. You make a late-night peanut butter sandwich and drop bread bits on the floor and presto, while you are sleeping, they come roaring out from under your refrigerator and gobble up every crumb.
You're probably thinking roaches carry every disease known to man, but they don't. In fact, roaches can't be tagged with any diseases.
It's interesting to note how the sight of a single roach scampering across a dirty kitchen floor will make you call the exterminator. I'm not sure if spraying chemicals around every baseboard in your house to kill roaches is a good idea. We have stopped spraying, but even if roaches are good fish bait and harmless, I don't want them camping out in our house. We use glue traps that pick off spiders as well as roaches. They come in but they don't come out.
Think of the numerous items of Chinese origin we embrace. Who would have thought we would allow tiny needles to be inserted into our bodies, but we routinely use acupuncture. The Chinese also serve a lot of raw fish, eel, and octopus.
There is big money in Chinese roach farming where roaches sell for between $15 and $20 per pound. Buddy and I caught thousands of roaches at the El Dorado garbage dump. We'd be rich now if we could have figured out a way to ship roaches to China.
Email Richard Mason at email@example.com.
Editorial on 03/08/2020
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