MushroomsDuring the era before 10,000 BC when hunting and gathering were a part of everyday life, women of the Americas did the gathering. Because they were supposedly blessed with the special ability to see better in dim light, they were successful in foraging for mushrooms and fungi along with young nettles, ferns, birch and willow shoots, and water weeds.  If the hunting was unsuccessful these foods were their staples.

The word Mushroom describes a variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems. It is a fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body, typically produced above ground. Since mushrooms do not grow in sunlight they must receive all their nourishment from the organic matter on which their spores are cultivated. Some of the eclectic growing media include live or dead tree trunks, rotted wood, sawdust, natural or synthetic manure, hummus, decayed rags, compost, rusty metal, and even dirty glass.

The standard mushroom cultivated is the white button mushroom.  Forms deviating from the standard morphology usually have more specific names, such as "puffball", "stinkhorn", and "morel", and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called "agarics"

The terms "mushroom" and "toadstool" go back centuries and were never precisely defined, nor was there consensus on application.  The term "mushroom" and its variations may have been derived from the French word mousseron in reference to moss (mousse). The toadstool's connection to toads may be direct, in reference to some species of poisonous toad.  However, delineation between edible and poisonous fungi is not clear-cut, so a "mushroom" may be edible, poisonous, or unpalatable. The term "toadstool" is nowadays used in storytelling when referring to poisonous or suspect mushrooms.

Asians have known for many years that shiitake mushrooms have medicinal powers with the ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost the immune system and inhibit tumour growth. Lentinan derived from the shiitake mushroom is used to treat cancer in Japan.

Mushrooms are also said to produce a laxative effect and provide a natural antibiotic. Some even thin the blood.   There are many varieties such as the common Button/white mushroom, Shiitake, Oyster, Morels, Portabellas, Criminis, Chanterelles and truffles to name just a few.

It is said that in the mid 1600’s Parisian farmers started to cultivate the common mushroom. It took 200 years to learn that caves were the ideal environment because of the stable climate. Today mushrooms are grown in mushroom houses and the climate is completely controlled.

Mushrooms are dried, eaten raw, broiled, grilled, marinated, stuffed, roasted, braised, sautéed and added to just about anything.

Depending on the variety, mushrooms contain 1 to 3% protein and all the essential amino acids, making the protein complete. For vegetarians, mushrooms make an ideal meat substitute.

They also have many of the B vitamins. Most cultivated mushrooms contain vitamins C and K, and some vitamin E. They are a rich source of potassium and phosphorous. About 5 raw button mushrooms contain 370 mg. of potassium and 104 mg. phosphorous.

Portabellas are an ideal food for those watching their waistlines. They contain no fat or sodium, are high in fibre, and low in calories (40 calories for a medium size). Also noteworthy is that mushrooms are very low in carbohydrates, making them ideal for diabetics

Chanterelles, with their appealing yellow colouring, are the only mushrooms that contain beta carotene and vitamin D.


Here is another interest link to a research article on mushrooms:


Thanks to Vegetarians in Paradise and Wikipedia for all the above interesting facts


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