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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Mind-boggling Mushroom Facts
Continued from the Sci4Kids story "Attack...of The Killer Fungus"
~~~Mind-boggling Facts About Mushrooms~~~
~ Mushrooms have no chlorophyll (a green pigment in plants), so they don't need sunshine to grow and thrive. Some of the Graphic of a spinning sun. earliest commercial mushroom farms were actually set up in caves in France during the reign of King Louis XIV (1638-1715).

Graphic of a whitetop mushroom. ~ One portabella mushroom has more potassium than a banana. White and crimini mushrooms are also good sources of potassium. Potassium helps the human body maintain normal heart rhythm, fluid balance, and muscle and nerve function.

~ Grains and foods that come from animals are good sources of selenium. But in fresh produce, only mushrooms contain significant amounts of this mineral. Selenium plays an important role in the human immune system, the thyroid system, and the male reproductive system.

~ Mushrooms are an excellent source of copper, a mineral that the body needs to produce red blood cells and for other functions.
~ Mushrooms have significant amounts of three B-complex vitamins: riboflavin (rye-bo-FLAY-vin), niacin (NYE-eh-sin), and pantothenic (pan-toe-THIN-ick) acid. The B vitamins help release energy from the fat, protein, and carbohydrates in food.
~ To keep mushrooms fresh, store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Avoid airtight containers that can collect moisture and cause them to spoil faster.
~ Consumption of mushrooms in the United States increased from 3.7 pounds per person in 1993 to 4.2 pounds per person in 2000.
~ Sales of the 2001-2002 U.S. mushroom crop totaled 851 million pounds, and consumers spent $912 million on them. Animated graphic of $100.00 bill.
~ Truffles, or mushrooms that grow below the ground, are one of the world's most expensive foods. One variety, Tuber melanosporum, can cost between $800 and $1,500 a pound.

~ The largest living organism ever found is a honey mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae. It covers 3.4 square miles of land in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, and it's still growing!

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Last Modified: 2/14/2011
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