In the News: Grow Mushrooms at Home

| 1/25/2011 4:20:51 PM

L.HoltHave you ever looked into growing mushrooms at home? I did some research once as part of a query into those vegetables that I could conceivably grow for myself to avoid further ingestion of pesticides. I came up with a bunch of information that amounted to it being rather more difficult than the carrots and bell peppers options. There were mentions of logs and inoculations and special climate control measures and lots of waiting.

Turns out you don’t actually need all that. According to Back to the Roots (BTTR, pronounced “better”), you can easily grow gourmet oyster mushrooms at home: just buy their pre-inoculated kit, put it in a windowsill, spray water on it twice a day and wait one week. No logs, no need for extra space. You should have good-sized, gourmet, home-grown mushrooms in about 10 days. Each kit produces about 1 pound of mushrooms in between two and four harvests.

 You can grow nutrition-packed oyster mushrooms on your windowsill.
Photo by Boriss Lariushin/Courtesy Flickr

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) contain high amounts of protein and complex B vitamins, especially vitamin B3. They also hold nearly double the about of protein and iron found in a similar portion or pork, beef or chicken. Oyster mushrooms have been shown to demonstrate cancer-fighting and immune-boosting properties. Wouldn’t you like to have that growing on your windowsill?

The key to this home-grown mushroom miracle? Coffee grounds. Every morning, coffee grounds are collected from local California cafes and used as dirt for either mushrooms or mushroom kits. The mushrooms enrich the coffee grounds as they grow, turning the coffee into a soil blend that is donated to local nurseries and urban farms. The mushrooms themselves (or the kits) are sold to Whole Foods. The kits are also available online.   

Alex Velez and Nikhil Arora founded Back to the Roots in 2009 with the intention of producing 100 percent sustainable mushrooms. With some research and a few test runs, they produced a crop without even a hint of coffee to its taste. Since March 2009 the company has expanded to be a regular mushroom and mushroom-kit supplier for Whole Foods markets nationwide. They strive for sustainability, innovation and social responsibility, and were selected as one of the top three finalists in an international social venture competition hosted by Newsweek and the BBC. They were also named one of BuisinessWeek’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2010.   

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