News / Toronto

Mealworms, indeed: Toronto market serves up edible insects

Insects such as mealworms and crickets are more environmentally friendly to grow than other sources of protein, says Summerhill Market owner Brad McMullen.

Some of the creeping and crawling delicacies on offer at Summerhill Market.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Some of the creeping and crawling delicacies on offer at Summerhill Market.

They’re crunchy, packed with protein and covered in chocolate.

And if you can stomach eating insects, the latest delicacies on offer at Summerhill Market may just be delicious.

“Edible bugs are a trending thing now,” said grocery owner Brad McMullen, showing off the store’s selection of mealworms and crickets.

After reading that eating insects was going to be big in 2016, McMullen went looking for a supplier. A quick search landed him in Peterborough, where a dedicated bug farmer was eager to help.

The insects come already fried, and customers can get them as flavoured snacks or have them baked into different desserts.

The store also stocks mealworm flour, organic cricket flour, chocolate mint cricket pies and peanut butter mealworm balls.

But while the bugs are small, the prices certainly aren’t. A bag of 113 grams of mealworms, for example, goes for $17.99.

Insects such as mealworms and crickets are said to be rich in protein, and more environmentally friendly to grow than other sources of protein, McMullen said.

“I heard there are some places where you can’t even get bugs because people have eaten them all,” he said, citing what he heard from one of his workers from Thailand.

It’s only been a week since McMullen introduced the novelty to his store, and the response has been mixed. While some refuse to even think about chowing down on a cricket, about 70 per cent of customers will give it a try “with a little coaxing.

“At this point we’re doing more sampling than actually selling,” McMullen said.

Metro reporter Gilbert Ngabo ate a bug so you wouldn’t have to

Metro reporter Gilbert Ngabo got his grub on Sunday, mowing down on a mealworm at Summerhill Market.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Metro reporter Gilbert Ngabo got his grub on Sunday, mowing down on a mealworm at Summerhill Market.

I grew up eating grasshoppers, which are considered a delicacy in tropical African countries.

As kids, we were told they fall from heaven. That made them taste even more delicious. Heading to the Summerhill Market to check out the edible bugs, my memory went right back to my childhood. But crickets and mealworms are much smaller than grasshoppers and I had never seen anyone take a bite of them.  At the insistence of my colleague, I tried a chocolate-covered sample.

The chocolate is definitely the first flavor you notice, but then there’s a crispy reminder that you’ve just eaten a bug. The taste was fine, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of scurrying legs inside my throat for a few hours afterwards.

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