The Humble Brown Button Mushroom


It was the most commonly cultivated commercial mushroom until mid-20th century. Now, most people don’t even know that it exists.

Sometime in the early part of the 20th century, a mushroom farmer who grew brown button mushrooms for the commercial markets decided to propagate a mutant mushroom. Sometimes amidst all those brown mushrooms, there would be one that was pure white. He began to propagate them. He did it because he thought it would be a neat idea, and he thought that customers might buy them. And buy them they did. They liked the looks of those lovely white mushrooms more than the old brown ones – they didn’t TASTE any better (in fact, the browns have a better flavor to some people), but they looked so pretty that people just could not resist reaching for them when given the choice. Soon, the white mushroom completely dominated the mushroom markets, and the humble brown mushroom faded into near oblivion.

Of course, you could not raise white mushrooms in natural light – or they would get brownish on top, spoiling the whole point of their pristine glory. So mushrooms began to be grown in the dark. And after a while, people forgot that mushrooms could be grown any other way, even though virtually all other species of edible mushrooms do best with some form of natural light, be it full sunlight, or deep shade, or somewhere in between.

They also lost things they did not realize they were losing. Because the rich brown mushroom was not the same as that poor white mutant. The brown one was rich in nutrients. The white one was a poor substitute, leading to the popular myth that mushrooms are not very nutritious. If you judge all mushrooms by those nasty white things, then they are right.  Other mushrooms though, those which have not been messed with, are high in protein, niacin, some are high in vitamin D, and other essential nutrients.

Some people now know nothing other than those white and gray musty tasting lumps that pass themselves off as mushrooms. They think that gray slimy things in a can of soup are the only thing that goes by the name of “mushroom”. And it is a sad thing. Because the world is full of mushrooms, and there are literally thousands of options that are better tasting, and better for you, that that empty little bubble headed ghost of a mushroom.

Even the mushrooms that are naturally white are more nutritious. And there are a lot of them.

The insubstantial mutant is responsible for more than that though. The rich brown button mushroom is loaded with nutrients and components that benefit your health. It helps with healing skin, avoiding problems such as ovarian cysts (and PCOS), or uterine fibroids. It also helps your body to alleviate damage done by chemicals to your intestines, circulatory system, pulmonary system, and skin. It supports regulation of the immune system to strengthen the immune system while also minimizing problems with auto-immune disease. That little brown button is a healthy food that promotes good health beyond the mere nutrients that it supplies. The benefits are strong enough to feel the difference if consumed twice a week.

The white button mushroom has merely a shadow of those benefits. Oh, it does help. But not enough to do more than slow down the damage to your body, and then a nearly insignificant amount. It does not have the power to reverse it, heal it, or slow it down enough to actually notice except in one minor thing – it can help to reduce damage to the intestines from chemical exposure from modern foods, and even then, it is not enough to do more than help a little. It makes a passing attempt on its way through, to slap a bandaid on one thing – while the little brown button mushroom gets busy in earnest and heals the damage instead.

So we have a lovely pretender, masquerading as food, completely replacing a smudged looking brown mushroom that held part of the key to good health in its matrix.

But this really isn’t about mushrooms. Because the brown button mushroom is only one example of trading the real for the fake.

White flour has replaced whole wheat flour – giving us a dead food devoid of the rich bounty that fresh whole wheat provides. Removing all the abundant nutrients which heal the body and give one energy.

Dead and embalmed foods have replaced fresh foods, giving the illusion of nutrition, but failing to deliver the wholesome elements that help us to age more slowly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid deterioration in our nervous systems as we age.

Unripe and overaged produce, bred to be tough enough to withstand extended shipping distances, and coated in chemicals to make it appear fresh and appetizing, has replaced garden fresh local produce that is alive and all but bursting with nutrients. Produce is marketed as “healthy”, but it is only a shell of what it needs to be to deliver on that promise.

We’ve done it to ourselves. We know those things are not healthy, and yet we reach for the white flour because it looks prettier and feels smoother. We choose the most uniform tomato, even if it is embalmed. We select chemical laden foods because we don’t want to take the time to cook fresh foods.

And then we wonder why we are tired, overweight, mentally fatigued, moody, disease ridden and ill.

We wonder why we are suddenly told that traditionally healthy foods like bread, juice, animal fats, and mushrooms are unhealthy. They are unhealthy because they are no longer REAL bread, clean juice and lard, or nutritious mushrooms.

The solution is simple. Eat foods that are real, not just fake foods calling themselves real.

Try growing some humble brown mushrooms in shady windowsill, and see what you’ve been missing. Then maybe you might want to try growing a few sprouts in your kitchen, or milling a little fresh flour to bake a loaf of real bread.

The majority of those troublesome health problems that we take for granted in the US as part of the age we live in are optional. I don’t know about you, but if I have the choice (and I do), I’m opting OUT.

NOTE: I was diagnosed with Crohn’s prior to writing this post. This post was written when I was recovering. As of 1 year after writing this, I no longer have auto-immune disease, and no longer have Crohn’s. Mushrooms have been part of this – Paddy Straw, Shiitake, Elm Oyster, Portobello Shaggy Parasols, and Puffballs are the only mushrooms I’ve had access to during this time.

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