Mushrooms

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Posted on Feb 20, 2018

Mushroom: a fungal growth that typically takes the form of a domed cap on a stalk, often with gills on the underside of the cap.

When we hear the term "mushroom", this is the definition most of us think of. How much do we really know about mushrooms and the benefit of mushrooms. How many species of mushrooms are there? Which are edible and which are poisonous? 

Mushroom market was valued at $35.08 billion in 2015 and expected to reach above $59.48 billion in 2021.  With the food trend leaning towards vegan and natural foods, mushrooms are the preference that a lot of vegans consumers tend to depend on due to the fact that they are great protein source and full of vitamins and nutritions. Most mushrooms you see in the grocery stores or super market today have been commercially grown by farmers in controlled environments.

So why not purchase the mushrooms available for sale at the super market?  

Mushrooms have a very short shelf life and cultivation is heavily labor intensive and requires high operation costs.  The rapid demand growth within the last ten years also means that mushrooms farmers will have to grow enough supply to fulfill the demand, forcing them to use unwholesome cultivation methods which include excessive chemicals and fertilizers.  Such growing methods have consumers shifting away from conventional mushrooms and leaning towards organic or wild grown mushrooms.   This is one of the many reasons why mushroom hunting is still very popular in certain areas around the world, where natural growing environments and climate allows. In the United States, mushroom picking is popular in the Appalachian area and on the west coast from San Francisco Bay northward, in Northern California, Oregon and Washington, and in many other regions.

Wild mushrooms: edible or poisonous?

Mushrooms have been used in medicine, as an ingredient in cooking in many cuisines, and as a natural dye for natural fibers such as wool for clothing. Mushrooms for a long period of time now, have been known as the "meat" of vegetable world.  There are about 100,000 species of mushrooms and only 10,000 are known to the North America region. So the question is, should you eat wild mushrooms? The answer is yes and no. Yes because there are so many great tasting wild mushrooms out there.  No because there are more "bad" than "good" mushrooms grown wild. About 4% of the wild mushrooms are consumable and can be use in cooking. 25% are edible but not recommended and about 50% of all mushrooms are inedible with 1% of them being extremely poisonous.  Therefore, only positive identified mushrooms should be eaten and do not combine different mushrooms type while mushroom hunting. 

Graphs & Data:

According to the graphs above, mushrooms grown on paths  should not be consume since most are poisonous. As for the mushrooms that grow in the woods, there are more edible varieties compared to poisonous but there are still a good number of poisonous mushrooms.

 

The data shows  that most poisonous mushrooms have these common 4 colors : red, gray, brown, and yellow. Most edible mushroom have no odor. Any scent of odor, especially foul, spicy, or fishy indicate that the mushroom is poisonous.

Gill color and spore print color on mushrooms can also be use to help distinguish if a mushroom is edible or inedible.

Mushroom records drawn from The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (1981). G. H. Lincoff (Pres.), New York: Alfred A. Knopf

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