Why Are Mushrooms The Future?


For countless ages humans have consumed mushrooms.

The Upper Paleolithic epoch may have contained plant foods and mushrooms in the human diet, according to research on ancient dental calculus.

Since then, throughout the ages, humans have developed various recipes using numerous varieties of mushrooms. There is no denying that portobello mushrooms make a great burger filler and that button mushrooms are the ideal side dish for an English fry-up.

But during the past few years, creative thinkers in a variety of fields—from cuisine to fashion—have begun to view mushrooms entirely differently. In fact, the fungus is so versatile and full of possibilities that it raises the question, are we living in the mushroom era?

Let’s start with how the simple fungus could improve food production in the future.

The secret ingredient

It’s no longer a secret that the food system need significant improvement. Currently, raising animals for meat depletes the Earth’s resources, releases gasses that warm the planet, and results in the slaughter of billions of animals.

Methane is one of the worst pollutants associated with animal agriculture. The gas has a potency that is more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Just one cow releases 220 pounds of methane into the sky each year.

Fortunately, mushrooms don’t belch. None of them release methane. Additionally, they might be a fantastic plant-based steak substitute. This has long been known by the British company Quorn.

Mycoprotein is used to create vegan and vegetarian meat products by Quorn, a company that was founded in the 1980s and has agreements with significant companies like KFC, Greggs, and PizzaExpress. Mycoprotein, also known as fusarium venatum, is a kind of fungus.

Quorn produces a material that resembles meat in mouthfeel and texture through fermentation. but it produces a small portion of the pollutants.

The potential of mushrooms has been recognized by several brands. Consider The Mushroom Meat Company as an illustration. It uses premium mushrooms, recycled plant proteins, herbs, and spices to make beefless and porkless shreds and patties.

In actuality, more than 14 million tonnes of mushrooms were sold globally in 2020. It will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.74 percent by 2028. Meat replacements are cited by Fortune Business Insights as a major industry driver, “coupled with the rising vegan population.” 

The news is positive for the environment. In addition to reducing emissions, the growth of mushrooms really improves the environment.

For instance, mushrooms aid in the decomposition of organic matter, which replenishes the soil with essential nutrients. They take up carbon as well. One study from 2013 discovered that the majority of the carbon sequestration in the woods of northern Sweden is caused by mushrooms.

The advantages of mushrooms extend beyond those for the environment. They’re a favorite in the wellness community as well because they enhance both physical and emotional wellbeing. The creators of the mushroom tea and coffee company Dirtea, Andrew and Simon Salter, can vouch for these advantages.

Mushroom’s health advantages

The Salter brothers burned out in 2016 after working nonstop and getting insufficient sleep. Physical problems also accompanied the mental exhaustion. “We were broken… Tired skin, tired body, tired minds,” they said.

They claim that after seeing a GP, who was unable to provide them with a “real cure,” their desperation eventually drove them to a London mushroom tea ceremony. Their lives were completely altered by the encounter, which demonstrated to them the wellness advantages of mushrooms. Later, the brand of mushroom beverage known as Dirtea was created.

“After our ceremony, we took these mushroom powders and committed to using them over the next couple of weeks to really feel the effects… It wasn’t long before we both started to feel better. Our sleep was improved, stress and anxiety were under control, and we had more clarity than ever,” they said.

Their observations are supported by research; just last year, a study (with more than 24,000 participants) connected mushroom eating with a lower risk of anxiety or sadness. They attribute this to its high antioxidant content, which lowers oxidative stress and inflammation (depression risk factors).

“There are so many clinical studies which consistently show us how healing mushrooms are, and these simply cannot be ignored,” said the Salters.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder is one of the duo’s offerings; lion’s mane has a number of health advantages, including better digestion and increased cognitive function.

Additionally, Reishi, Chaga, and Cordyceps mushroom powders are available. All of them can be combined with coffee or consumed as teas or in smoothies.

“Mushrooms are low in calories, carbohydrates, fat, and sodium… They’re also cholesterol-free and provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D, proteins, and fiber,” the founders added.

There is no question that eating and drinking mushrooms is good for the environment and for ourselves. However, we can go a step farther and wear them as well. And this time, the animals and the rainforests stand to gain even more from it.

Mushroom leather

Leather is used regularly in the fashion industry for anything from bags to shoes to belts. However, the production of this material—which frequently originates from cows—damages the environment and wildlife.

For instance, a research last year connected various companies, including H&M, Adidas, Nike, Zara, and Fendi, to Amazon deforestation. This was due to the fact that JBS, a major player in the meat industry and the largest exporter of leather from Brazil, is connected to their supply chains for leather.

One in ten species known to exist on Earth are found in the Amazon, the biggest tropical rainforest in the world, including critically endangered or threatened species like pink river dolphins and jaguars.

JBS is well known for its contribution to the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest (despite its commitments otherwise). It should come as no surprise that 80 percent of the Amazon’s deforestation is caused by cattle ranching (for the meat and leather industries).

However, leather manufacture is hazardous for farmed cows as well as animals. 430 million cows will reportedly be killed annually by the leather industry by 2025, according to some estimates.

However, things don’t have to be this way. Because mushrooms have a similar range of applications to leather made from cows. As Stella McCartney has demonstrated. The company introduced its first luxury bag made from Mylo leather by Bolt Threads in July of this year. The mycelium, or mushroom root structure, is used by the material solutions business to create leather. The designer brand unveiled a blouse and pair of pants manufactured with Mylo in 2020.

CEO of Bolt Threads Dan Widmaier described the partnership as an “honor.”

“[Stella McCartney’s] category-defining leadership of animal-free fashion and championship of sustainable materials is paving a path forward towards a more responsible fashion industry… Bringing the first-ever luxury bag made from Mylo to market is a massive milestone for conscientious consumers, the biomaterials industry, and the future of luxury fashion,” he added.

Stella McCartney is not by herself either. In 2021, Hermès said that it had collaborated with the biomaterials business MycoWorks to produce a leather travel bag made out of mushrooms. The same year, Adidas and Bolt Threads collaborated to introduce a new Mylo line of its renowned Stan Smith sneakers.

The market for bio-based leather, which includes mushroom leather, is anticipated to grow to around $870 million in value by 2026. However, many believe that it will continue to rise because mushroom leather is scalable, adaptable, sustainable, and free of both cruelty and deforestation. It won’t be long until it becomes the standard.

Source: “Why Mushrooms Are The Future Of Everything, From Sustainable Fashion To Food” by Plant Based News

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