Magnificent Mushrooms: Behind the Scenes with a Mushroom Farmer

Mushrooms are truly a magnificent piece of nature, and their growing process is more scientific and interesting than one might thing. Follow along as Council Representative, Kathleen Preis, talks to a local mushroom farmer about the fascinating world of growing mushrooms.

It’s a cold winter day here in Pennsylvania, and even with snow banks reaching up to my knees, local mushrooms are being grown and harvested today. Mushrooms are one of the only items in the produce section that are grown every single day of the year, and it’s an amazing process to learn about. Lucky for me, I am right in the heart of mushroom growing country (Kennett Square, PA), with access to dozens of family farms that grow over 60% of the US’ fresh mushrooms.

Kathleen: What exactly is a mushroom?
Mushroom Farmer: Mushrooms are fungi, which are so distinct in nature they are classified as their own kingdom – separate from plants or animals. There are thousands of fungi in the world, but only a few are edible. Most mushrooms you find in your local supermarket are grown indoors, on a mushroom farm.

Kathleen: Tell me about the mushroom growing process.
Mushroom Farmer: Mushrooms are our most unique growing vegetable, and mushroom growing is one of the most unusual stories in agriculture. Before they make their way to your plate, mushrooms go through a growing process in a highly controlled environment unlike that of any other produce.

Kathleen: Are mushrooms good for you?
Mushroom Farmer: Up until a decade ago, most believed mushrooms were consumed only for their flavor, and didn’t contribute anything nutritional. However, as we invest in more nutrition research we find mushrooms have a great nutrition story to tell! Mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attribute more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium (8%), riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more.

Kathleen: What’s your favorite mushroom recipe?
Mushroom Farmer: While I enjoy complex mushroom dishes like this Portabella Mushroom Burger With Crispy Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic Gorgonzola Sauce, my family and I cannot resist classic comfort foods like meatballs, tacos, and spaghetti. My current favorite is the Mushroom & Turkey Meatloaf. The mushrooms blend seamlessly with the turkey, and add moisture!

 





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