Mushrooms aren’t as easy to grow as plants, nor is the cultivation of fungi as popular and well catered to as, say, growing succulents.
Nonetheless, let us be clear: growing mushrooms at home is easy, cheap, sustainable, and requires very little space.
Here are five reasons to grow your own mushrooms.
1. Mushrooms = Food + Medicine
Mushrooms are high in bioavailable minerals and vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, C), and contain one of the only non-animal sources of cyanocobalamin, a precursor to Vitamin B12.
They’re a great source of selenium, which alongside Vitamin E helps to fight free radicals by producing antioxidants. They also contain germanium, which has been shown to increase oxygen efficiency, resistance to disease, and counteract the negative effects of pollution.
On a macronutrient level, mushrooms are low in fat (0.6 to 3.1% by weight when fresh, 70% of that unsaturated fat), high in protein (~ 4% by weight when fresh, 19 to 35% protein when dried), and contain all nine essential amino acids.
And we haven’t even mentioned medicinal mushrooms yet.
Mushrooms like Reishi (Ganoderma sp.) Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Shiitake, Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris), and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) have been shown to enhance the body’s ability to defend against diseases like autoimmune disorder, viruses, and cancer. They strengthen our bodies’ natural defenses, don’t overstimulate our immune system, and help to restore balance in the body.
2. Mushrooms Can Heal
Recent research has shown that as little as one dose of psilocybin— the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms”— in a therapeutic setting can ameliorate alcohol/tobacco addiction, depression, chronic anxiety, end of life anxiety, and cluster headaches.
Learning to grow and commune with psychedelic mushrooms — e.g. Psilocybe Cubensis — in an intentional, respectful, therapeutic way can lead to a more fulfilling life.
3. Mushrooms Are Delicious
Ever heard of umami? It’s one of the five basic tastes — along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter — and is best described as savory and full-bodied. And guess what?
Mushrooms are the richest non-animal source of umami out there!
Not into the taste of mushrooms?
Perhaps that’s because the mushroom most commonly found in grocery stores, the button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), is one of the least flavorful out there!
Try some Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Enoki (Flammulina velutipes), Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.), or Morels (Morchella spp.) and tell us you don’t like mushrooms!
4. Growing Mushrooms Is Cheap and Easy
Go to the local farmer’s market, pick up a pound of mushrooms for about $20, and you may come to the conclusion that mushrooms are expensive.
But for about $200 you can create your very own urban mushroom farm capable of producing hundreds pounds of fresh gourmet and medicinal mushrooms every year!
We understand that for some, that simply isn’t an option.
There’s another option, though. You can buy a mushroom grow kit for about $30 and, using a plastic tote and a mister, harvest up to five pounds of mushrooms slowly over time.
5. Mushrooms Are Sustainable
Mushrooms can grow on practically anything, meaning you can turn waste streams into potential fungi food.
But even the traditional growing methods are very sustainable.
“Mushrooms can now definitively be considered one of the most sustainably produced foods in the United States” reads one study by Sure Harvest, a sustainability analysis and research firm, after analyzing the operations at 21 facilities responsible for one-third of fresh mushroom production in the U.S.
What if we told you that you could grow delicious food and healing medicine sustainably on the cheap?
Well, we just did.
- Radical Mycology, Peter McCoy
- Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, Paul Stamets