Do you love mushroom art, food, photos, and factoids but are still wondering whether you should try to actually grow mushrooms?
Even though we’re a team of mycophiles and fungi fanatics now capable of giving you 10 million reasons why you should grow mushrooms, all of us here at the Fungi Academy were in your shoes at one point.
So, if you’re still on the fence about it all, we think you’ll appreciate our top ten reasons why you should grow mushrooms. Mush love!
1. They’re delicious!
Mushrooms are the richest non-animal source of umami, one of the five basic tastes (along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter) and a flavor best described as savory and full-bodied. When you can grow mushrooms, you can stock your pantry full of delicious mushroom umami ready to go whenever you want!
Yet it’s no wonder so many people say they don’t like the taste of mushrooms. The mushroom most commonly found in grocery stores, the button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), is one of the least flavorful out there!
If the shelves of your local supermarket were instead stocked full of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Enoki (Flammulina velutipes), Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus), Porcini (Boletus edulis), or Wine cap mushrooms (Stropharia rugosoannulata), we know most people would be singing a much different tune.
2. They’re healthy
Mushrooms are high in Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, and B9 (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid), Vitamin C, and are one of the only non-animal derived sources of cyanocobalamin, a precursor to Vitamin B12. They also contain high amounts of many different minerals, and the minerals in mushrooms are often found in ionic form, meaning they are easily bioavailable for your body.
But there’s mush, mush more. Mushrooms are great sources of underappreciated and difficult to find compounds like germanium, which has been shown to increase oxygen efficiency, resistance to disease, and counteract negative effects of pollution.
They also contain selenium, which works with Vitamin E to combat free radicals by producing antioxidants, which basically means that eating mushrooms can reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and minimize the effects of HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis, and asthma!
But if you remember only one thing from this reason why you should grow your own mushrooms, remember that mushrooms are 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. Now that’s what we call a superfood!
3. They’re medicinal
Simply put, medicinal mushrooms like Reishi (Ganoderma sp.) Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Shiitake, Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris), Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and innumerable others enhance
the body’s ability to defend against many forms of disease such as
autoimmune disorder, viruses, and various types of cancer.
By stimulating the creation of the cells that comprise our immune
system. But what’s particularly amazing about this quality is that they strengthen our bodies’ natural defenses without overstimulating our immune system (hello allergies), helping to restore and/or maintain the delicate balance our body and its immune system needs to function properly.
And that’s just one of their health benefits. Medicinal mushrooms like the ones mentioned above also help with:
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Nerve and muscle issues
- Suppressed immunity
- Nervous system exhaustion and adrenal burnout
- Heart conditions
- UV exposure
- Alzheimers and Dementia
- Blood oxygen retention
- Mood stabilization
We could go on and on. We figure you get the point, though.
Growing your own medicinal mushrooms leads to a medicine cabinet of natural,
homeopathic, preventative medicine that enriches you and your family’s
life today and protects their health for tomorrow. Need we say more?
(Don’t worry, we will anyways).
4. They’re therapeutic
A cascade of recent research has demonstrated that as little as one dose of psilocybin— the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms”— in a therapeutic setting can cure alcohol/tobacco addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety, end of life anxiety, and cluster headaches.
In a world where 1.5 billion people suffer from central nervous system diseases, 320 million deal with depression, and 100 million struggle with treatment-resistant depression, the significance of these findings is hard to overstate.
Learning to grow mushrooms and use sacred mushrooms — esp. Psilocybe Cubensis — in an intentional, therapeutic way is an invaluable skill that can lead to a more fulfilling, meaningful life for you, your family and friends, and your community at large.
5. They’re easy and cheap to grow
For about $20, you can buy a mushroom grow kit that, with a few mistings a day and about two weeks of time, will give you two or three harvests of fresh mushrooms.
But for about $100 more, you could create your very own urban mushroom farm capable of producing hundreds of pounds of fresh gourmet and medicinal mushrooms.
In the field of mycology, the greatest barrier to entry isn’t the cost. It’s the time it takes to learn and master the skills of successful mushroom cultivation. There are a number of online forums (e.g. Shroomery, Mycotopia) out there with reams of information on how to perform the most basic to the most advanced mycological techniques.
We suggest taking a look at our comprehensive online Sacred Mycology course, where you’ll learn all the skills needed to grow mushrooms of all kinds, from oysters to Reishi to our favorite, Psilocybe Cubensis.
6. They can feed your family, friends, and community
Have a garage, shed, basement, or spare bedroom? Then you could grow your own mushrooms on a massive scale in your own urban farming setup.
A 10 foot by 10 foot fruiting room can produce more than one hundred pounds of mushrooms per week. In a study by Sure Harvest, a leading sustainability analysis and research firm, if you were to grow mushrooms on a one-acre plot, you could expect to produce up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms per year!
That’s a lot of fresh, local, sustainably produced superfood for your community.
7. They’re sustainable
“Mushrooms can now definitively be considered one of the most sustainably produced foods in the United States.” Those are the words from a study conducted by Sure Harvest, a sustainability analysis and research firm. In this particular study, the practices of 21 facilities responsible for one-third of fresh mushroom production in the U.S. were analyzed.
8. They’re booming
Perhaps you’re unaware, but we’re in the midst of what’s being dubbed the “Shroom Boom.” Mushroom businesses large and small are sprouting up seemingly overnight, from medicinal mushroom supplement companies to sacred mushroom retreats to alternative meat companies featuring mushroom products to beauty companies incorporating mushroom products into their cosmetic lines.
It’s been estimated that the overall mushroom industry could reach half a trillion dollars in the next decade, disrupting and emerging into massive industries like neurogenics, neuroceuticals, mental health therapy, meat replacement, and cognitive enhancement.
9. They’re fun
For most people, an interest in mycology and growing mushrooms is more of a hobby and passion project than it is a business idea.
Because growing your own mushrooms is a fun, engaging, entertaining, and enlightening journey all by itself. From a single spore, you can create a bounty of beautiful food grown for you, by you, with love. Every day, you get to care for your mushroom babies, watch them as they grow, and cultivate a relationship with the fifth queendom of earthly life.
10. They’re teachers
Building off of our last point, learning to grow mushrooms also provides you with innumerable, invaluable life lessons. As with almost any farming activity, growing mushrooms from your home is a practice in patience and persistence.
Obstacles like contamination will always occur. Growth will sometimes be slow. But with time and continued practice, you will be successful.
Doing lab work, where every move must be smooth, quick, efficient, calm, and planned, is a meditation in mindfulness. Beginning processes that take months of time and multiple steps offers lessons in foresight, organization, time management, and planning.
And then, of course, there are the universal lessons that sacred mushrooms offer.
About the Author
Sam is a writer, journalist, and mycophile from New York who arrived at the Fungi Academy one midsummer’s day in 2019 and left 6 weeks later with lifelong friends and a passion for mushroom cultivation.
In the past year 18 months, he’s built a laboratory and fruiting room in his home, cultivated and foraged over 20 species of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, started a medicinal mushroom tincture business, and returned to the Fungi Academy to teach his techniques to students.