The mighty mushroom not only is healthy on the plate, it’s also gentle on the
planet – according to a new study measuring the water, energy and carbon emissions required to grow and harvest fresh mushrooms in the world.
*all research data is from Mushroom Council.
Water Required is a Fraction Compared to Other food groups! The study calculated the overall water footprint per pound of production by collecting information on fresh water applied, precipitation and water embedded in the composting ingredients. The 1.8 gallons of water required to produce a pound of mushrooms is a fraction of water inputs required for many other foods.
The Mushroom Sustainability Story
The study finds production of a pound of mushrooms requires only 1.8 gallons of water and 1.0 kilowatt hours of energy, and generates only 0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions. In addition, the annual average yield of mushrooms is 7.1 pounds per square foot.
Meaning up to 1 million pounds
of mushrooms can be produced
on just one acre.
Fungi could play a huge role in sustainability by remedying existing environmental damage. For example, they can help clean up contaminated industrial sites through a popular technique known as mycoremediation, and can break down or absorb oils, pollutants, toxins, dyes and heavy metals.
Mushrooms’ need small growing space on conserves Soil, but nets high yields; Each year, growers are able to produce millions of pounds of mushrooms on just a few acres of land. In addition, the soil used to produce mushrooms is made of composted materials. After the mushrooms are harvested, the soil is recycled for multiple uses, including potting soil. The 7.1 pounds of mushroom yield per square foot is achieved in part because mushroom beds are stacked vertically in growing facilities, allowing a high volume of mushrooms to be grown in a relatively small space.
More is more
Mushroom beds are typically harvested in breaks or flushes, staggered about a week apart, with 3-4 days of harvesting for each flush. Being able to get multiple harvests from each crop is another way in which mushrooms are a relatively low input, highly sustainable food.
Mushrooms are, by nature, one of the world's most sustainable and renewable foods. They're ready to pick in days, require minimal natural resources and, thanks to their vertical shelf or tray growing method, achieve one of the best yields per square metre of land in the agricultural industry.