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Mushroom … My Sustainable Future

Climate change means devastation, havoc, desertification, a boiling atmosphere, scarcity of water, longer periods of drought, and burning vegetation. Farmers will be wondering about adapting to these crises.

Mushrooms are climate resilient as they don’t require much time, space, and resources to grow and have a low ecological footprint. They have nutritional value and can be easily made into an alternative to animal products (milk and meat).

Nutrition and food security: Edible mushrooms are rich in nutrients such as vitamins B, C, and D, fiber, and minerals including potassium, phosphorus, and calcium and they are also a good source of protein. In fact, many mushrooms rank above vegetables, when it comes to their protein content. For that reason, edible mushrooms are considered a good substitute for meat in vegetarian/vegan diets and in the diets of people who don’t have access to meat.

Low carbon footprint/carbon cycling: they have an amazing capacity to decompose and recycle. any agricultural waste can be decomposed and turned into compost for growing mushrooms. Fungi are important contributors to the soil carbon stock. They play a major part in the carbon cycle through the soil food web. Together, plants and fungi perform a process called soil carbon sequestration, capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil for decades if not hundreds of years. This important process not only improves soil fertility as it can also help reduce the excess carbon human activities have put into the atmosphere.

Drought-friendly crop (Less water):  one pound of fresh produce may take up to 50 gallons of water to grow, whereas one pound of “button” mushrooms takes two gallons of water to grow

Lowest energy consumption: Growing one pound of button mushrooms takes 1.0 kilowatt-hour (Kwh) of electricity. This is equivalent to running your coffeemaker for one hour each day. On the same note, producing that one pound of mushrooms generates 0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalent. Compare that number to the 20 pounds of CO2 that it takes to produce one gallon of fuel. Mushrooms have extremely low energy consumption and carbon emissions compared to most other things.

Availability (grown year-round): On average, one square foot of space in a mushroom bed can produce 6.55 pounds of mushrooms. That is equivalent to 4.5 red bricks on a patio. That is an incredibly small amount of space to grow so many mushrooms! One acre of land can grow even more impressively one million pounds of mushrooms.

Human health: Six percent of edible mushrooms possess medicinal properties, which can help prevent diseases and boost our immune system. Shiitake, for example, presents antiviral properties and can reduce serum cholesterol. Other species are known to possess a number of other benefits such as inhibiting tumors and the development of AIDS, anti-oxidative property, and anti-diabetic effects.

Environmental protection: Fungi have been found to help degrade various pollutants from the environment, such as plastic and other petroleum-based productspharmaceuticals and personal care products, and oil. In addition, studies show that some fungi species can help in ecosystem restoration by advancing reforestation in degraded soils and acting as pest control seeing that some species are pathogens of arthropods or nematodes.

Sustainable material: Mycelium, which is the root structure of mushrooms is now being used to replace unsustainable materials, such as plastic, synthetic and animal-based products. The products from Mycelium are biodegradable and require less water and land resources to be produced. Some of the mycelium-based products already in the market include packaging, clothes, shoes, sustainable leather, skincare products, and others.