One of mushrooms’ miraculous superpowers is their ability to detoxify soil. Unfortunately for mushroom consumers, one of the ways they do this is via bioaccumulation, wherein a mushroom extracts a toxin from its surrounding environment by absorbing it into itself.
“The results of this study indicate that heavy metal contents in mushroom species are mainly related to the mineral resources of sampling sites,” reads one study that delved into the presence of heavy metals in Chinese grown mushrooms.
In other words, where a mushroom grows and the quality of the substrate it consumes determines what’s in the final mushroom fruit body. So, if you don’t know where your mushrooms are grown, you don’t know what’s in them. And when you’re consuming mushrooms in hopes of some medicinal benefit, it’s a real slap in the face to find out you’re actually poisoning your body.
Half a World Away vs. Half a Mile Away
China produces around 75% of the world’s total mushroom and truffle output annually.
In 2017, that accounted for about 38.42 million tons of mushrooms. Suffice to say, there are a lot of Chinese grown mushrooms floating around the grocery stores in America, oftentimes priced cheaper than their America-grown counterparts. In fact, even mushrooms that are labeled “Product of USA'' may have been inoculated and grown on Chinese made substrates, sent to the U.S., then fruited and harvested in the states, allowing them to be labeled as “Product of USA.”
This raises some concerns. For one, it’s impossible, without sending a sample in for heavy metal analysis, to be sure of what’s in that mushroom grown half a world away. We’re certainly not saying that China produces tainted mushrooms, or that you should automatically assume that a Chinese grown mushroom is unhealthy in any way. What we are saying is that it’s dubious to blindly trust a product you know nothing about, especially when that product can do some real damage. High levels of the heavy metals often found in mushrooms— e.g Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, and Cadmium— can cause damage to your brain, kidneys, bones, heart, and skin, and are linked to cancer and behavioral disorders.
That’s where American grown mushrooms come in. When you buy mushrooms from a local grower you know, you’re able to vet the efficacy of the substrate, growing process, and end product in a way you simply cannot with imported or mass produced mushrooms. That’s why we at Troop source all of our mushrooms from U.S. farms with demonstrable quality control measures in place. We also test all our mushrooms for heavy metals (true?) before putting them in our products. In this way, we know exactly what’s in our product and you know exactly what’s going into your body.
Next time you go to the store or hop online to buy a mushroom product, make sure you do some homework on where and how the mushrooms were grown. Look for companies with solid supply chain tracing methods that also test for toxins. You may pay a bit of a premium but your body will certainly thank you.