This week we are discovering the mushroom. It actually isn’t really a vegetable (nor a fruit) it’s in its own fungi category since it doesn’t have any roots, flowers, leaves, or seeds. However, it has the nutritional values found in vegetables as well as meat making it perfect for vegetarians (and anyone else). In a nutshell mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and quite a few more. Interestingly the mushroom has been found to be one of the best sources of selenium, an antioxidant, that can be found in the produce isle. So why care about selenium? Well it means that eating mushrooms on a regular basis can strengthen your immune system and keep away chronic diseases. The Chinese have known about these health benefits for a long time and have been using shiitake mushrooms, which chef Marisa Catalano will be focusing on in her cooking demonstration this Saturday, for over 6,000 years. In Asia they are the symbol of longevity. Shiitakes are a great source of non-animal iron and they can be one of the most sustainable food items in your diet. If you buy your shiitakes at the Lynchburg Community Market then you can be sure that your farmers are growing them on old hardwood logs. This is the natural way of growing shiitakes and it cuts down on a lot of waste.
So in conclusion, mushrooms may be hard to love at first but they are a great addition to any diet!
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