Cricket pie, mealworm protein balls on the menu at Toronto market

Would you eat an insect pie? How about a crispy cricket salad topper?

Bugs are making their way into store shelves — as in, for sale as food

Believe it or not, this is a cricket pie. (Summerhill Market)

Would you eat an insect pie? How about a crispy cricket salad topper?

Insects are eaten all around the world. But the idea of eating a mealworm or cricket still doesn't appeal to a lot of consumers in the Western world. That is, at least, not yet.

A Toronto grocery store is testing the assumption that crickets don't make a good dessert. Summerhill Market is hoping Torontonians will acquire a taste for insects, and began selling them this week..

Christy McMullen, owner of the market, said it is selling BBQ, Moroccan-spiced and honey mustard flavoured insects ($1.69 per two-gram pack) to get ahead of the current trends.

Sustainability is in with consumers, and eating bugs meets that demand, she told Metro Morning. Besides that, she said, they are a healthy way to get protein — 65 per cent protein compared to 30 per cent in beef — and they are cheap.

"They're low in fat, high in iron, high in calcium [and] they come with nine essential amino acids," said McMullen. 

Some of the items the store sells: mealworm protein balls, chocolate covered crickets and cricket pie. To make the key lime pie, cooks make cricket flour, and it's topped with chocolate-covered crickets.

"With the pie, you wouldn't even notice, the bugs are all ground up," said McMullen.

All the insects, including salt-and-pepper seasoned mealworms ($1.69 per two-gram pack) and organic cricket flour ($15.99 per 113-gram bag), are from Entomo Farms in Ontario.

Insects might be a cheap, more ethical way to get protein, but will eating bugs catch on in this city any time soon? Matt Galloway spoke with Christy McMullen. She is the owner of Summerhill Market, home of the cricket pie. 5:40

"For me, the mealworms were easier to try than the crickets," she said, describing the appetite for bugs. "Although our customers, they were going for the crickets."

The global livestock industry — where consumers get beef, chicken, pork and other animal products — produces more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, planes, trains and ships, according to a 2014 analysis from U.K. thinktank Chatham House. Beyond that, the cost of meat is rising.

All factors pointing to insects, McMullen said, adding they take up less room, consume less resources, and are overall better for the environment.

Adding mealworms to your meal is healthy, said the owner of Summerhill Market. (Summerhill Market)

It's only been a week since insects like crickets have been on the shelves at Summerhill Market, but McMullen is not alone in thinking sales will jump.

"The big thing is the nutritional benefits," she said. "It's cheaper than your animal proteins and helping with your footprint."

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