For The Love of Organics: Mushrooms
It’s fun to say—as in, “We’re having prosciutto-wrapped Agaricus bisporus for dinner!—and more fun to eat (Agaricus is the common white button variety, by the way). Perhaps you’ll find your appetite when we mention the portobellos bubbling in the oven, stuff ed with goat cheese and organic rosemary? Or maybe you’ll get excited once you catch a whiff of the creminis simmering in garlic butter? Yes, we’re talking about mushrooms, and whether you call them by their scientifi c title or their common name, when they’re on the menu the whole meal becomes more fun! But these delicious fungi have a serious side too—a seriously good4u side. Here’s the scoop:
Fun for Health!
Turning food into energy is one of the primary responsibilities of mitochondria, but while they’re performing this crucial task, they also generate a potentially harmful waste product—reactive oxygen species (ROS). Unfortunately, mitochondrial DNA, because of proximity, are especially at risk of attack by ROS, which can result in mutations and mitochondrial dysfunction.1 Worse still is the fact that such damage has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.2 3 4 The good news is that antioxidants can neutralize ROS, and the powerful antioxidant L-ergothioneine seems to be uniquely protective of mitochondria.5 6 7 Can you guess one of the best dietary sources of ergothioneine? Yep, it’s mushrooms!8
Fun for Kids!
Although mushrooms don’t make the lists of produce with the highest pesticide residue, here’s a compelling reason to buy them organic—your kids! Consider this: USDA tests found residues of thiabendazole, a developmental and reproductive toxin, on 52 percent of conventional mushrooms.9 10 That’s something you don’t want your kids ingesting. Keep the menu clean and fun by choosing organic—your children deserve the best!
Fun for the Planet!
The magical world of fungi extends far beyond the dinner table, and some believe it can help save the planet. The well known mycologist Paul Stamets has been conducting extensive research on ways that mushrooms and mycelium (the fungal equivalent of a root system) can benefit the environment.13 These include developing a mushroom-based insecticide that is non-toxic to pollinators, humans, and the environment, and conducting experiments using mycelium for bioremediation.14 One such operation successfully used oyster mushrooms to clean up petroleum drenched soil; over time, the contaminated pile was converted into a thriving habitat for plants and beneficial insects.15 16 In an era when news about the future of our planet is far from fun, the beneficial possibilities of mushrooms are especially fascinating. Let’s give the fungi kingdom our attention, because the more we know about its potential, the better chance it has of becoming a real solution!