A look at mushrooms

by Kim Cooper

Mushrooms. What comes to mind when mushrooms are mentioned? Mushroom soup? Mushroom caps? Steak and mushrooms? Today, let’s have a closer look at this fascinating food crop.

Mushrooms are good for you and taste great. Not only do they contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, they also contain antioxidants. 100 grams of mushrooms contains only 25 calories. Did you know mushrooms have virtually no fat, no cholesterol and low sodium?

What mushrooms do have is a powerhouse of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Here is an example of what you can find in mushrooms: Riboflavin, copper, selenium, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, potassium, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

Fresh mushrooms contain a powerful antioxidant called l-ergothioneine. They also offer nutrients such as beta-glucans and conjugated linoleic acid, compounds that are currently being studied for their chemo-preventative potential. Recent research also suggests that mushrooms (and mushroom extracts) may have powerful anticancer activity, for both breast and prostrate cancers.

Mushrooms offer both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps to maintain good bowel health.

Recent studies show that fresh mushrooms can help with: blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart health, gout, healthy aging, childhood obesity, and diverticulosis.

Here are some tips on storing mushrooms. They should always be kept in the refrigerator. Store them in brown paper bags as they will breathe better and stay firm longer. Mushrooms are best when they are used within a few days of purchase, but can be kept up to one week. Prior to use, rinse fresh mushrooms in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Do not wash mushrooms until you are ready to use them, as they may discolour.

One of the ongoing issues in trying to purchase local food is actually finding local food in our grocery stores. Many of the buying decisions are made in head offices, leaving our local stores with not much choice. Some of our locally grown agricultural products are found on local grocery stores – you just have to search for it. But if you don’t find them, ask your grocery store manager to stock more local food products.

If you want more information on mushrooms, including some great recipes, you can visit the Mushrooms Canada website at www.mushrooms.ca

As far as local mushrooms, we have two mushroom farms located in Chatham-Kent and both are owned and operated by the Peeters family for many years. Peeters Mushroom Farm (519-351-1945) is located at 8267 Middle Line, just west of Charing Cross and their other operation is located at 19002 Communication Road, just south of Blenheim. Both of these mushroom operations have mushrooms for sale to the public. The Charing Cross facility is open seven days a week and the Blenheim facility is open Monday to Friday, both during office hours.

There is nothing better than fresh locally grown delicious and nutritious mushrooms. Have some today. Thank you again for supporting our local producers.

Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our agricultural website – www.wegrowfortheworld.com

Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at: kim.e.cooper@gmail.com

You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’

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