To Americans, cockroaches are unwelcome guests. But to some, they’re not only welcomed, they are encouraged.

In China, cockroach farms are growing in popularity, reports Shanghaiist. Not only are the little critters looked at as a great source of protein, they’re also becoming popular as an ingredient in both Chinese medicine and in cosmetic products. People are beginning to catch on to the roach demand in China, and are joining the force of over 100 farms already breeding the insects.

The start-up and maintenance costs of owning a cockroach farm are much lower than breeding other livestock like pigs and cows. (Think about it: if cockroaches can survive the NYC subway they can survive anywhere.) The recession has created a “roach bubble,” and a pound of the creepy things sell for $20-$89, an impressive rise from $2/lb in 2010.

Due to the cockroach’s general creepiness, farms try to keep a low profile, although some do a better job than others. Last August, one million cockroaches escaped from a farm in the Jiangsu province. Think about that for a second. One million cockroaches.

I know the thought of a million cockroaches running rampant gives you the chills, but it might be time to loosen up on the little guys. Why? Because Americans eat too much meat—it’s a fact. The raising of livestock generates 20% of all greenhouse gasses, and the United Nations is itching to reduce the amount of meat we eat. Insects like cockroaches could provide a viable alternative. Insects contain high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, insect farms produce much less greenhouse gasses than other farms, 300 times less nitrous oxide (a warming gas), and much less ammonia than pig and poultry farming.

So, let’s get comfortable with our multi-legged friends. Fried green tomato hornworms, anyone?

[via Shanghaiist, The Guardian]