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For The Love Of Organics: Mushrooms


Remember wandering through the park as a kid, captivated by the big, beautiful world? You picked dandelions, hunted ladybugs, and stared at those funny little things called mushrooms that your mother said not to touch. Then you got older, and mom started putting mushrooms on your plate and telling you to eat them. Of course, they weren’t the same as the ones pushing through the grass in the park. They weren’t the same as the brightly painted ones decorating the pages of your favorite fairy tale either, so you didn’t want to eat them because they looked like just another pile of veggies, and not very appetizing ones at that. Mom was patient with you; give it a few more years she said, and sure enough…

Now they’re on your grocery list when you’re planning a festive meal like Mother’s Day lunch, and you feel so fancy when the words portabella or shiitake roll off your tongue. But did you know that adding mushrooms to your feast delivers more than savory sophistication? They’re an excellent source of L-ergothioneine, an unusual amino acid that we obtain exclusively through the diet and is proving to be a powerful antioxidant. Researchers are discovering that it protects DNA, mitochondria, and endothelial cells from oxidative damage. Mushrooms are also rich in immune-supporting compounds like beta-glucans. Serve them to mom knowing they’re as nutritious as they are flavorful, and learn to make mushrooms a part of your healthy routine. Who says every day can’t be enchanting?

When you’re planning your Mother’s Day menu, be sure to buy organic. Residue of the fungicide thiabendazole—a reproductive toxin as well as a probable carcinogen—was found on more than half of conventional mushrooms tested by the USDA pesticide data program. So in honor of the  reproductive capabilities of all creatures, take a pass on the conventional shrooms.

Mushrooms have mothers too; they’re the fruiting bodies of an incredible organism known as mycelium—one of the most effective agents of  decomposition in the ecosystem, which translates to exciting potential for bioremediation. A fascinating study on the subject used mycelia to  decontaminate dirt saturated with petroleum. In a matter of weeks, it turned from a stinking mess into a thriving mound of plant growth and reusable earth. That sounds like something only a mother could accomplish.

References available upon request.


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