The Mushroom Sustainability Story: Water, Energy, and Climate Environmental Metrics
March 2017 Report Prepared by: SureHarvest
This study is the result of a two-year initiative to document mushroom production environment metrics, measuring the water, energy and carbon emissions required to grow and harvest fresh mushrooms in the United States.
Researched and developed by SureHarvest, a leading sustainability analysis and research firm, The Mushroom Sustainability Story documents practices at 21 facilities nationwide, responsible for one-third of the U.S. fresh mushroom crop. Researchers collected data for all steps of the mushroom production process, including composting, spawning, casing and pinning, and harvesting.
“SureHarvest’s two-year analysis concludes that the amount of natural resources and space required to grow mushrooms is remarkably low compared to the published data on other foods,” said Dr. Jeff Dlott, president and chief executive officer of SureHarvest and chief researcher for the project. “Mushrooms can now definitively be considered one of the most sustainably produced foods in the United States.”
Water Required is a Fraction Compared to Other Foods
SureHarvest 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.
Keeping CO2 Emissions and Energy Footprint in Check
To determine the 1.0 kilowatt hours (kWh) energy usage per pound of mushrooms, researchers calculated energy consumed during harvest by converting fuel use by type into kWh, then combined with kWh of electricity use. CO2 equivalent emissions were calculated by tracking total emissions from electricity and fuel used for composting equipment and growing operations (e.g. equipment, heating, cooling, etc.).
Mushrooms’ Small Growing Space Conserves Soil, Nets High Yields
The study calculated the average yield per square foot by measuring more than 42 million square feet of mushroom production area. 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 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.
For more information download the full study.
A new study from the Culinary Institute of America and University of California-Davis, published in the Journal of Food Science, explored the flavor-enhancing properties of mushrooms and found that blending finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat enhances flavor and nutrition.
The study, Flavor-Enhancing Properties of Mushrooms in Meat-Based Dishes in Which Sodium Has Been Reduced and Meat Has Been Partially Substituted with Mushrooms, conducted by University of California Davis (UC Davis) and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) was published in the Journal of Food Science. Chef-instructors from the CIA developed eight test recipes, including recipes featuring the mushroom blend technique of adding finely chopped mushrooms to beef, and a CIA registered dietitian performed nutrition analyses on the recipe. Six beef taco blend recipes differing in added salt and meat/mushroom blend ratios and two carne asada recipes differing in meat/mushroom blend ratios were developed. The intensity of the sensory attributes of the mushroom preparations, taco blends, and carne asada recipes were evaluated by a trained panel of 13 judges using Quantitative Descriptive Analysis to determine the flavor effects of using a blend of chopped crimini and white button mushrooms and ground beef, as well as sensory mitigation of sodium reduction in the taco blends.
Study Key Findings
This proof-of-concept sensory study provides the basis for how mushrooms and meat can combine for healthier alternatives to iconic American dishes. As the study shows, a traditional ground meat recipe prepared with 50 percent mushrooms and 50 percent meat (or even 80 percent mushrooms and 20 percent meat) can:
- Reduce calorie, fat and sodium intake, while adding nutrients like vitamin D, potassium*, b-vitamins and antioxidants
- Enhance the overall flavor, because of double the impact of umami
- Maintain flavor while reducing sodium intake by 25 percent
For more information download the full study factsheet.
This study looks at menus only. How the operator describes mushroom on their menu is all that is trackable. Some operators name the variety of mushrooms, others just say “mushrooms”. For those who just say “mushrooms”, they are listed as such in the Varieties comparisons.
- 80.3% of all restaurants serve mushrooms
- By Segment…
- 96.1% of Fine Dining (up 6%)
- 88.9% of Casual (up 2%)
- 83.7% of Midscale (up 2%)
- 65% of QSRs
- 64 % of Fast Casual (up 10%)
Mushroom Makes Other Foods Taste Better
This study will show how mushrooms are performing in the following categories: Pizza, Pasta, Beef, Chicken, Vegetable Entrée, Sandwiches, Burgers, Appetizers and Breakfast
- Pizza — #4 vegetable (trailing only cheese, onion and tomato, and higher than sausage and pepperoni). Truffle, roasted mushrooms, button and crimini are all among the fastest growing vegetables on pizza
- Beef Entrees — menued on over 1/3 of all beef entrees. Trailing onions
- Pasta — 7th most used item and the 2nd most menued vegetable. Criminis and Truffle are growing.
- Chicken — #1 vegetable ingredient
- Hot Sandwich — found on 37% of all menus
- Burgers — #4 vegetable (trailing only onion, tomato and lettuce) as a topping
- Appetizer — #5 most popular vegetable
- Breakfast — #3 most popular vegetable (trailing tomatoes and onions.)