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Mushroom Council celebrates Mushroom Month, blendability success

The Mushroom Council has seen tremendous success from what it calls the “blendability” technique of blending finely chopped mushrooms and ground meat together. This allows consumers to enjoy healthier versions of the recipes they love, like burgers, tacos, meatballs, and meatloaf and pasta sauces, without sacrificing taste.

“Blendability is served on menus from fine dining establishments to street festivals and Ivy League to elementary school cafeterias,” said Kathleen Preis, marketing coordinator for the council.

USDA-Mushroom-Product-ShowcOn Sept. 18 the Mushroom Council and USDA hosted a mushroom blendability product showcase. Shown here is USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden sampling the 10 mushroom-blended products. (Photo courtesy of the Mushroom Council)On Sept. 22, the Mushroom Council issued a press release stating that a new study from the Culinary Institute of America and University of California-Davis, published in the Journal of Food Science, explored the flavor-enhancing properties of mushrooms and found that blending finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat enhances flavor and nutrition.

This proof-of-concept sensory study provides the basis for how mushrooms and meat can combine for healthier alternatives to iconic American dishes. As the study shows, a traditional ground meat recipe prepared with 50 percent mushrooms and 50 percent meat can reduce calorie intake while adding nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants; enhance the overall flavor; and maintain flavor while reducing sodium intake by 25 percent.

“Mushrooms have really come into their own as a solution to changing dietary patterns, earning their place on the plate with their nutrient quality, flavor impacts and incredible functionality across the menu,” said Greg Drescher, study co-author and vice president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America.

In September, the council celebrated Mushroom Month by promoting several consumer activities.

“Consumers were encouraged to celebrate Mushroom Month by going to taste special mushroom-blended menu items in chains across the country, like the Seasons 52 Signature Burger, a blend of Angus beef and mushroom duxelle,” said Preis. “Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants’ Turkey & Wild Mushroom Meatloaf and Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s Veal Marsala Meatball, a half-pound blended meatball that combines veal and mushrooms, are other great examples.”

The council also partnered with Boston chefs to promote mushroom blendability at the Let’s Talk About Food event on Sept. 27 in Boston. Several of the city’s top chefs were challenged to create unique blended burgers. All competing burgers are featured on local menus throughout the fall. Harvard University hosted a booth serving mushroom-blended chili to the thousands of attendees at the event.

On Sept. 18 the Mushroom Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted a mushroom blendability product showcase. Ten mushroom-blended products utilizing mushrooms were presented to USDA staff, including Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden. The product showcase demonstrated the tremendous success of mushroom blendability in the National School Lunch Program. Over 4 million students now have the opportunity to order healthy, mushroom-blended products for lunch this fall.

Consumers, Preis added, were invited to submit their most creative mushroom recipes for a chance to win $500 in the Life of Dad #ShroomTember contest during the month.

“The winners of the summer’s Swap It or Top It retail display contest were announced,” she said. “Walla Walla’s Harvest Foods in Walla Walla, Washington, took the grand prize in the contest with a festive and inviting mushroom grilling display.”

Evergreen IGA in Winthrope, WA, and Rouses Supermarket in Raceland, LA, followed in first and second place with eye-catching displays. All contest entries the council received showcased mushrooms as a summer grilling staple.

The Mushroom Council is comprised of fresh market producers or importers who average more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually.

The mushroom program is authorized by the Mushroom Promotion, Research & Consumer Information Act of 1990 and is administered by the Mushroom Council under the supervision of the Agricultural Marketing Service.

Research and promotion programs help to expand, maintain and develop markets for individual agricultural commodities in the United States and abroad. These industry self-help programs are requested and funded by the industry groups that they serve. More information on the Mushroom Council is available at www.mushroomcouncil.org.