Watching my plants wilt in the South Florida summer heat I wondered what could be grown here during the next few sweltering months. Buying and eating local produce in the winter is easy but what should we be looking for in the summer.
Researching this question I discovered a terrific website www.FreshfromFlorida.com Thank you, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, for maintaining this consumer resource. A few samplings from this website, in addition to summer crops, is great herb information, locations of vineyards across Florida, year-round seafood festivals and sites of U Pick fields. And, to my surprise, I learned that mushrooms are grown year round in Florida.
White button mushrooms are the most economical and popular but I suggest exploring other varieties for an assortment of taste and nutrition. Cremini, also known as baby bellas, shitake and portabella are also well priced and widely available.
Most mushrooms contain selenium, copper and a variety of B vitamins. They are unique in the produce aisle for contain vitamin D. In fact, one serving of sun-exposed portabella mushrooms can have up to 64% of the recommended daily value for vitamin D. Mushrooms are also the highest dietary source for the unique sulfur-containing antioxidant ergothioneine. This antioxidant protects cells from damage and has a role in immunity.
Just this week another article came out with recommendations to decrease red meat intake. A mushroom meat blend is a tasty way to do this. A blend combines about 30% chopped mushrooms with 70% lean ground beef. This is a taste enhancement since mushrooms and meat give great umami. A mushroom blend will also lower fat and cholesterol in the final product. A blend can be used for burgers, meatloaf and meatballs.
Mushrooms are a sustainable crop with a low carbon footprint. One acre can grow 1 million pounds of mushrooms. For recipes, blends and more on nutrition take a look at www.mushroomcouncil.com