In Charleston, people can hardly stand to say “cockroach.” They prefer “palmetto bug.”

In China, dried cockroaches are becoming a crunchy, protein-rich commodity, selling for as much as $20 a pound.

Some entrepeneurs hope cockroaches will be used in fish and animal feed and even as a culinary delicacy for humans.

But for now, it’s China’s pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies that are buying the pulverized roach matter. It is being used in traditional Chinese medicine, and research is being done on its possible role in treating baldness, AIDS and cancer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the largest roach producer in China has six farms — 10 million American cockroaches. Ahem. American cockroaches are what inhabit some of the finest Charleston homes.

The industry stayed mostly under China’s radar until August when a million escaped from one farm, making neighbors more than a little uneasy.

Remember, Charlestonians are like the Chinese. They eat rice, worship their ancestors and speak a foreign language.

But when it comes to cockroaches, the similarities cease. The Chinese might chomp them, but in Charleston, we stomp them.