Mushrooms - The OG Recyclers!
Did you know mushrooms are considered one of the most sustainable foods? Not only are they necessary recyclers for our earth but they have an extremely small environmental footprint and are nutritious!
Although mushrooms are not everyone's favorite, there are thousands of species of mushrooms that are edible - they are very versatile so there are bound to be types that can appeal to everyone.
Why are mushrooms important?
Mushrooms are often looked at as pests to a yard or garden, which they can be but they play a major regulating role in ecosystems.
Mushrooms are considered decomposers, they are able to break down dead organic matter, absorb it and then return any vital nutrients to the earth. Decomposers are at the end of the food chain, without them the food chain would not be complete and nutrients would not be returned to the ecosystem, disrupting the food chain.
Fungi can be disruptive as well, there are harmful fungi that can spread over trees and other plants. As well as fungi that is deadly to humans and animals.
Sustainability and Mushrooms
A pound of mushrooms only requires 1.0 Kilowatt hours of energy, .7 pounds of CO2 and 1.8 gallons of water to produce. To put that in perspective - it takes around 127 galloons of water to produce a pound of corn, 26 gallons of water to produce a pound of tomatoes, and 34 galloons of water to produce a pound of broccoli.
They only require a very small amount of land to grow and the soil they use is made up of byproducts and waste from other agricultural sectors. Even after the mushrooms are harvested the soil is repurposed for compost and things like potting soil -- therefore mushrooms have a very small carbon footprint.
Not only are they sustainable, they are also nutritious! They are low-calorie, low fat and cholesterol-free. Although they lack large amounts of protein, they contain fiber, minerals and vitamins, like B vitamins to help support heart health.
Mushrooms can be a great meat substitute. Even though they lack the amount of protein provided by meat, you can prepare it with other foods that are high in protein like beans or other vegetables.