Mushrooms are one of the most widely available and popular plant foods. What is it that’s so special about mushrooms, why should you consider adding them to your diet, which ones are best, and which should you avoid?
Mushrooms have been eaten and used medicinally for thousands of years, all around the world. Ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms to be plants of immortality and recognized them as a gift from the god Osiris. They valued mushrooms so highly, only the royals were allowed to consume them; commoners were forbidden to touch, much less eat them.
Based on the details of ancient rock paintings, some historians think that the use of magic mushrooms was alive and well in 9,000 BC among indigenous populations of North Africa. (I don’t know where those cave artists found tie-dye paint, but you can’t argue with science!) Furthermore, statues and art thought to represent mushrooms have been found in Mayan and Aztec ruins in Central America, establishing their ceremonial importance in the Americas over many thousands of years.
Today, mushrooms are growing in popularity worldwide due to their nutritional properties and versatile uses in the kitchen. While annual consumption of mushrooms in the United States stabilized at an average of three pounds per person in the decade ending in 2015, the market has been growing steadily since and is projected to grow even faster globally over the next several years.
But what makes mushrooms so special? Are they good for the environment too? And what about poisonous and psychedelic mushrooms? How do you avoid the former and not take the latter by accident? And will I be able to stop myself from making at least one “fun guy” joke for the rest of this article? (Continued at source …)