You guys, cockroach-farming is totally the industry of the future

In China, the cockroach industry is booming... but why?

Above: Wang Fuming, the largest cockroach producer in China (and probably the world), at his farm in Jinan. CREDIT: Wang Xuhua via LAT

According to a feature published in today's L.A. Times, a better question might be: why isn't the cockroach industry booming EVERYWHERE ELSE? Writes LAT's Barbara Demick:

At least five pharmaceutical companies are using cockroaches for traditional Chinese medicine. Research is underway in China (and South Korea) on the use of pulverized cockroaches for treating baldness, AIDS and cancer and as a vitamin supplement. South Korea's Jeonnam Province Agricultural Research Institute and China's Dali University College of Pharmacy have published papers on the anti-carcinogenic properties of the cockroach.

Li Shunan, a 78-year-old professor of traditional medicine from the southwestern province of Yunnan who is considered the godfather of cockroach research, said he discovered in the 1960s that ethnic minorities near the Vietnamese border were using a cockroach paste to treat bone tuberculosis.

"Cockroaches are survivors," Li said. "We want to know what makes them so strong — why they can even resist nuclear effects."

Li reels off an impressive, if implausible [Ed. note: lol], 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.

"Cockroaches are very tasty too."

To summarize: In China, cockroaches are regarded as a panacean superbug, valued by researchers for their remedial powers and knack for survivorship, that are also apparently pretty goddamn delicious.

Snake-oil peddling aside, maybe the Chinese are onto something?

Read the rest of the piece over at LAT.