Food Science

The Mushroom Boom

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The mushroom business generates revenues of more than $30 billion worldwide and is growing by 10 percent a year, according to one estimate.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • At the University of Giessen,  researchers are studying how mushrooms create aromas and how they use waste.
    • Myco-protein, or mushroom protein, is sold as an alternative to mincemeat, sausage or thin slices of meat, mainly in Britain, Scandinavia, the United States and Switzerland.
    • In some stadium-sized growing facilities, remote control-operated lasers and picture-recognizing robots learn how to pick mushrooms.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Die Pilzsaison hat begonnen: Steinpilzernte
Of the approximately 1,600 mushroom species in Germany, only a few are edible and tasty, such as these wild-growing porcini. Source: DPA

Deep in the woods outside Frankfurt, the organic farm “Druid Austernpilze” is located on a former military base. It specializies in oyster mushrooms – large, floppy fungi that were first grown in Germany to feed people during World War I.

Every year, organic farmer Georg Heinrich Rühl grows 400,000 kilos (880,000 pounds) of organic oyster mushrooms. And these days, business is booming.

Mushrooms are having a moment in Germany. The gourmet, sustainable foodie trend has seen more and more restaurants offering them in meals as fresh and healthy fare direct from nature. Mushrooms are full of protein, low in calories and an excellent option for vegetarians.

For organic farmers, it is an attractive market. There are over 100 varieties of mushroom that can be grown, and cultivated with manure, pulp, straw, wood or even waste.

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