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Celebrate National Mushroom Month

By
Keith Loria

Mushrooms are so healthy, so delicious and so versatile, it’s no wonder that they have their very own month. September is National Mushroom Month, and it’s a time when people in the mushroom industry celebrate and promote all varieties of mushrooms. It’s also an opportunity for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to educate people on the versatility and health benefits of this amazing food.

The Department of Agriculture declared September as National Mushroom month in 2018 with a proclamation that recognized mushrooms as an essential component of the American agriculture business. It also noted that there are more than 2,500 mushroom varieties, and highlighted the fact that mushrooms can be featured in just about any kind of meal.

With peak barbecuing season upon us, the Mushroom Council, which is composed of fresh market producers and importers who average more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually, is doing its part to get the word out.

After all, National Mushroom Month is a fantastic time for retailers to spread the word about mushrooms through promotions, sales and recipes. They can be featured in salads and omelets and on pizzas and are a perfect side dish for a steak dinner. Topping hamburgers with mushrooms, onions, and Swiss cheese is a popular option, but mushrooms also can be mixed into a burger or meatloaf, which adds flavor and texture to every bite. Mushrooms can also be a star in soups and stews during the fall and winter.

Mushrooms are, of course, sold in supermarket produce sections and one question some people ask is if mushrooms are a fruit or vegetable, and the answers is neither: They are a fungi, though they are treated more like a vegetable in cooking.

Mushrooms’ notable health benefits are another fantastic element that can be promoted during National Mushroom Month, as mushrooms are just as healthy as many vegetables. For example, they offer nutrients that are essential to maintaining a healthy immune system, such as vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B-6. They are also a source for riboflavin—which helps with the production of hormones and is important to the nervous system—as well as copper and potassium.

Mushrooms are also considered an excellent food for maintaining a healthy weight, and are an excellent substitute for meat, as they are savory and also filling with fewer calories than ground beef. In fact, replacing lean ground beef in a meal with mushrooms just once a week can reduce your calorie intake by 20,000, and lead to five pounds of weight loss in a year, according to the Mushroom Council.

The Mushroom Council’s website (www.mushroomcouncil.com) is home to a wealth of information that can help retailers boost their mushroom sales all year long and especially during National Mushroom Month. In addition to mouth-watering recipes for such dishes as a blended pasta sauce, Mexican lasagna, blended Mexican tacos, mushroom sipping broth and vegan stuffed mushrooms, the website offers instructions, including videos, on topics including How to Blend Mushrooms and Meat and how to prepare mushrooms, either by roasting, microwaving, grilling and broiling.

National Mushroom Month wouldn’t be complete without the annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, PA, which produces about 65 percent of the United States’ mushrooms, earning it a reputation as the Mushroom Capital of the World. Each year, about 100,000 people flock to this small town for a parade, growers exhibit, tours of mushroom farms, a car show, and to buy mushroom products from vendors.

But anyone can participate in National Mushroom Monthly, simply by featuring these delicious foods in recipes, and the mushroom industry is ready to help people do that.

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