Are gourmet and medicinal mushrooms the same? Not necessarily!
This especially holds true for shroompreneurs thinking about working in the mushroom industry.
But what’s the difference between gourmet mushrooms and medicinal mushrooms?
In a nutshell, gourmet and medicinal mushrooms have a lot to offer consumers and shroompreneurs alike. However, gourmet mushrooms are edible.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used since ancient times as food but also as medicine.
In this post, we go more in-depth to answer the question, “Are gourmet and medicinal mushrooms the same?” By the end of this article, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect as a consumer and someone who operates a business in the mushroom space.
What Are Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms?
Gourmet and medicinal mushrooms are mushroom categories that describe what certain types of mushrooms do. While some mushrooms fall under the gourmet category and appear on menus globally, others fall under the medicinal category and have been used for centuries as food and medicine.
Both types of mushrooms are consumed by millions of people across the world every day. However, most consumers don’t even think about the fungi they’re consuming. Some gourmet mushrooms can be medicinal, too.
Gourmet and medicinal mushrooms offer consumers a lot. However, equally important to consider is how the mushroom space is expanding, offering opportunities to the shroompreneurs that seek them.
What Are Gourmet Mushrooms & What Do They Offer Consumers
Gourmet mushrooms are some of the best cash crops on the planet, especially for small growers. Traditionally speaking, these have been grown on dead trees outdoors. But these days, it’s possible to grow them indoors in bags of straw or sawdust rather than logs.
Oyster and shiitake are some of the most common gourmet mushrooms grown for profit. However, it’s even been said that the Japanese have been eating gourmet mushrooms for over 10,000 years.
Usually, when we think about eating mushrooms, grocery store options like the white button come to mind. However gourmet mushroom consumers are often looking for something else. Similar to wine tasting, gourmet mushrooms have sophisticated flavors that get better with age. Rarely are these types of mushrooms eaten on their own or cooked into a sauce. Most gourmet mushrooms are part of a meal with wine, cheese, and other expensive foods.
Mushroom foraging is a very common practice around the world, which we’ll talk about below. However, it’s important to know that most commercially grown gourmet mushrooms come from farms rather than forests.
What Are Medicinal Mushrooms & What Do They Offer Consumers
Medicinal mushrooms are what most consumers think of when they hear the term mushroom. While gourmet mushrooms are edible, medicinal mushrooms have been consumed since ancient times as food. But they’ve also been utilized as a medicine to treat illnesses and strengthen the immune system.
Originating in Eastern Asia, especially China, these types of mushrooms are responsible for some of the greatest health advancements in human history. One of the most famous is the Reishi mushroom, which has been consumed for thousands of years.
But we’ll talk more about Reishi mushrooms later on. For now, it’s important to know that medicinal mushrooms have been used in Eastern cultures for a long time. This is because most medicinal mushrooms have high amounts of polysaccharides and beta-glucans, which are known for strengthening the immune system.
Gourmet Mushrooms vs Medicinal Mushrooms
In the battle of gourmet mushrooms versus medicinal mushrooms, there’s no. clear winner. However, for some people, the medicinal mushroom benefits alone can make them a first choice.
Others like mushrooms for their taste, health, and nutritional properties represented by vitamins and minerals (for example, calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine).
Then there are those who just want to try both. It’s important to remember that not all gourmet mushrooms are medicinal. However, most medicinal mushrooms are gourmet, too.
Many people use brews made from brewing medicinal mushrooms to make teas and other drinks with taste profiles of any type of tea flavor you can think of. The medicinal mushroom options available for purchase are limitless.
Historical Uses of Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms
Gourmet and medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years. It’s an important part of history that holds up to this day.
For example, medicinal mushrooms have long been used by the Chinese and Japanese during important ceremonies and gatherings, especially when it comes to food.
Gourmet mushrooms have been used in many Eastern cultures for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until the 1800s that they started appearing in Western food culture.
Today, gourmet mushrooms are a delicacy – and in some cases, expensive – food option. Purchasing various types of gourmet mushrooms is usually as simple as visiting a local grocery store.
Medicinal mushrooms can also be found easily in your local health food store. But sometimes, it’s possible to find them at grocery stores and nutrition shops being sold as supplements.
Types of Gourmet Mushrooms
Several types of gourmet mushrooms exist. These mushrooms can be real moneymakers, making them valuable for shroompreneurs interested in starting a gourmet mushroom business.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular gourmet mushrooms:
• Button mushrooms or champignon
• Oyster mushrooms or shirataki
• Morel mushrooms
While other gourmet mushrooms exist, these are the ones most commonly found at grocery stores. Even though rarer gourmet mushrooms are available, they’re usually more challenging to sell as most people may not have heard about them. This translates to a burden for shroompreneurs to educate people on the mushrooms they grow.
If you’re considering growing gourmet mushrooms, it’s best to choose types that people already know about. Once you’re established and your operation is profitable, that’s when you can begin expanding your offerings to rare gourmet mushroom options.
Types of Medicinal Mushrooms
Reishi Medicinal Mushrooms
Reishi mushroom benefits include boosting the immune system and treating anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation. Other medicinal mushrooms like shiitake are also used to treat similar conditions. Because of these powerful health benefits, medicinal mushrooms offer consumers a lot
In fact, Reishi is considered one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods on Earth when it comes to its nutritional content per serving size. These mushrooms are commonly grown on hardwood, primarily oak, in warmer regions. They’re commonly found growing throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Southeastern United States, and Southern Europe.
Chaga Medicinal Mushrooms
Chaga mushroom benefits include fighting cancer, resolving digestive issues, reducing inflammation, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, and protecting the liver from free radical damage. These benefits make Chaga mushrooms a popular medicinal option for those interested in using them as a supplement to boost their health.
The Chaga mushroom is usually found living on birch trees throughout the northern regions of Europe, Asia, and North America (Canada). However, some of the Northeastern regions of the United States grow these medicinal mushrooms, too.
Cordyceps Medicinal Mushrooms
Cordyceps mushroom benefits include boosting the immune system, treating asthma and allergies, fighting inflammation, strengthening bones and muscles, improving sexual function, providing more energy to your body, enhancing brain health, and healing getting rid of candida. Thus, it’s apparent why these medicinal mushrooms have been growing in popularity.
Cordyceps mushrooms are also unique and rare. However, they’re now being grown globally. These mushrooms are most commonly grown throughout Asia, with the densest populations found throughout tropical rain forests.
Psilocybin Medicinal Mushrooms
While still taboo and illegal in most regions of the world, psilocybin (magic mushroom) benefits are still recognized by some people. The psilocybin mushroom is known for its ability to cause people to hallucinate, but it also helps treat depression and anxiety.
According to many studies, including clinical trials, these mushrooms can significantly improve the mental health of people who struggle with severe mental conditions like PTSD and severe depression. These mushrooms are commonly grown in Central America and the Southern regions of the United States, as well as throughout South America and Mexico.
Closing on Are Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms the Same
Gourmet and medicinal mushrooms are not the same. But they do have a few things in common.
Both can be found easily at local stores, and both offer powerful health benefits to those who consume them. However, gourmet mushrooms are mostly used for their flavor and appearance, while medicinal mushrooms are consumed for their health benefits.
If you’re interested in getting into the mushroom business, it’s important to decide which type of mushrooms you want to grow. Gourmet mushrooms are more popular and easier to sell. However, the medicinal mushroom species offer greater profit potential due to their many health benefits.
Looking for help scaling your mushroom venture with the right financial services? Northstar is here to help!
We understand the mushroom industry and how to scale operations with data insights. Contact us now to speak with one of our experts about how we’ll grow your business in this emerging marketplace.