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MUSHROOM FARMING: The agribusiness of the moment

By Moses Nosike

Mushroom farming has become an alternative for vegetable farmers as it offers them new business opportunities. Mushroom farming is thriving at the moment in Nigeria. Its cultivation can yield quick money if the farmer understands the nitty-gritty of the modern techniques and type of species that are in high demand in Nigeria, Europe, USA and other developed countries.

MUSHROOM FARMING

However, the rising consciousness of the elite to choose healthy diets has made mushrooms a popular feature of expensive meals in hotels, bars, restaurants, shopping malls and top class eateries.

According to animal consultant/Managing Director, Jovana Farms, Prince Arinze Onnebuna, Mushrooms are popping up in odd places all over the supermarket, from coffee and soups to snack bars. This is because the humble fungus is nutritionally impressive; add it to any dish and you’ll impart loads of savory, meaty flavor for very few calories.

He said that get all the trainings you need to succeed as a mushroom farmer and marketer for your farm produce at Jovana Farms will help you do well. Six white mushrooms clock in at a mere 28 calories. Mushrooms also deliver nutrients like potassium, which keeps blood pressure in check. A cup of white mushrooms has nearly 10% of your daily recommended target (4,700mg), a goal only 1% of our people meet.

Onnebuna said that Mushrooms are brimming with phytochemicals, antioxidants and a fiber called beta-glucan, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties. That means they can protect you from a number of diseases, says Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, Director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.

“A 2017 study found fungi to be the best source of two disease-fighting antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione. Low levels of the latter have been linked with higher risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The nutritional merits of some of the latest mushroom-enhanced products like  chocolate drink spiked with mushroom extract—are less clear. But mushrooms are increasingly being used to replace red meat. Nowadays some restaurant and fast-food chain are introducing fresh, dried and cooked mushrooms, resulting in a diet with less saturated fat and calories.

Another recent launch: Mushroom jerky made with shiitake stems, which has less protein but more fiber than meat versions.

When making your own mushroom creations, shop for dry packages at the supermarket that are free of condensation. Store the mushrooms in a refrigerator in a sealed paper bag, and prepare them by wiping them down immediately before cooking.

Mushroom types vary by their antioxidant concentrations. (Meaty porcinis, for example, are one of the most antioxidant-rich fungi.) But you can enhance the nutritional prowess of nearly any variety just by putting a pack of mushrooms in the sun. Mushrooms use sunlight to make vitamin D, yet most are grown in the dark. A cup of white mushrooms contains little vitamin D, but one study found that putting them in natural sunlight for 30 minutes grew the Vitamin D content between 150 IU and 600 IU per cup, or 25%  to 100% of your recommended daily dose.

If you chop them up first, you’ll increase sun contact and maximize vitamin D production. You also can buy vitamin D – enhanced mushrooms at certain grocery stores.

If fungi turn you (or other picky eaters) off, but you still want to pack in extra vitamin D and antioxidants, grind air-dried and sun-bathed mushrooms into a powder. Mushroom nutrients are heat-stable, so they won’t degrade when cooked, notes Robert Beelman of the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health at Pennsylvania State University. Toss the powder into foods such as rice, beans, soup and bread flour for a nutrient boost with a disguised taste.

WHITE & MILKY MUSHROOM

The most popular mushrooms on the market are surprisingly protein-rich, with 6g in five mushrooms – more than in some beans.

SHITAKE

These have a deeper, more satisfying flavor than other varieties and also contain calcium, which white mushrooms do not.

OYSTER

These stay firm when cooked and have more iron and antioxidants than shitakes and portobelios.

REISHI

The super medicinal mushroom


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.