Chideock Champignons have had our best year ever. Ok, before 2018 we didn't exist but it's still a positive start. We are growing, we are trading and although we aren't gozillionaires yet the ball is rolling and we are in business.
This year is going to be huge for us all.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” -Albert Einstein
“People eat meat and think they will become as strong as an ox, forgetting that the ox eats grass.” -Pino Caruso
We’re not going to tell you become a vegan. We are not telling you to become a ‘flexitarian’ or endorse the latest faddy terminology. We would never tell you to do anything; who are we to do that? You’re bloody great as you are, especially as you’re taking the time to read our gumpf! If we can momentarily bend your eyes, however, you may find this interesting. Forgive us; we don't want to sound preachy, but we are unashamedly biased - mushrooms can make a big difference in 2019.
Here are 5 reasons why:
Reason #1 – Climate Change
Bored of hearing about Climate Change? Maybe you do the recycling and therefore consider your part played. Maybe you’re right. We here can’t help but feel it is happening. Weather, winters, waters, all are changing – daffodils came out in December and that just seems odd. We get that a few people eating a few more mushrooms in the south west isn’t going to stop the planet warming up overnight, but there are places to start.
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.” - Joseph Poore, the University of Oxford.
The carbon hoofprint of meat is large. Ours is small. We use gas to heat our grow rooms, electricity for our lights and fans but that’s pretty much it. We have reached out in the hope to gain grants for solar power as we want to reduce our footprint further. In terms of our waste, everything is re-used apart from the bags we grow our mushrooms in. Even then, we hope to refine our methods to reuse them.
Beef results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of meat, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg – Source: The Guardian
Ok, meat tastes great. Greens are good for you and fish makes you smart, why would I eat more mushrooms?
Reason #2 – Attitudes towards diet
Food culture in the UK is changing, with people beginning to wake up to the health benefits of eating properly. There are an absolute basket-load of varieties of edible mushroom in the UK, with a raft of nutrients and properties among them. You could have five different types of mushroom and you could tick off your five-a-day. Oysters are high in protein, fibre, iron, zinc, Vitamins C and D among others. They contain antioxidants (perfect for January) and contain lovastatins that reduce cholesterol. They are a GREAT substitute for beef in a burger. Shiitakes are a wonder mushroom, containing Iron, Copper, B Vitamins, Vitamin D, polysaccharides and lipids linked to combating cancer. Enoki is believed to cure certain liver diseases and stomach ulcers in Chinese medicine. All of these are growing on our farm.
From 2020 South Korean women are going to live to an average age of 90, according to research. Why? Well, it’s not just mushrooms, but they are an integral part of their diet, which is also high in fish, rice and (most importantly) kimchi. Pickled and fermented produce is so good for your delicate insides. Have you ever tried pickled mushrooms?
This year could be a good opportunity to give it a go….
Reason #3 – Potential abundance of wild mushrooms
The late frosts have allowed the mushroom season to extend into this year, but not in quantity. For us last year was a bit of a let down for foraged goods. The hot weather definitely left its mark on the wild stuff. 2019 feels like it will be different; the chances of this year being as dry as last are slim. We can’t help but feel that all the varieties that struggled last year are going to bloom this year and emerge in abundance.
Why was the warm weather such a hindrance for growth? We know so little about the fungal networks under our feet it’s hard to tell but one theory relates to the lack of moisture in the ground. Prolonged dry spells create deeper dryness in the soil, moisture being key to fungal growth. The deeper the dryness, the further the tips of the mycelial roots of the fungus are from the surface. By the time the ground re-hydrates from the late rains, the season has changed and the chilly fruiting bodies just don't want to come out.
The porcini (cep, boletus edulis(above)) blossomed this year, however. This is a mushroom that is widespread in Italy and warmer climes, so perhaps is more resistant to the dryness. It forms connections with the roots of trees, allowing them to communicate with each other…..
Reason #4 – Waking up to the power of fungi
More research is being carried out into the role of fungi in the biosphere and the results are continually astonishing. Fungal networks connect the forest together, bring nutrients to soil and break down organic matter way, way faster than anything else. There is even a fungus that can break down plastic in weeks; it’s something we hope to get the time to experiment with in the coming year in a hope to become completely wasteless.
There are an estimated 2.2 to 3.8 million types of fungi in the world, compared to 391,000 species of plant. What is happening in the soil, in wood and within the stems and leaves of flowers is a little bit of a mystery but it is our mission to try to understand it and discover the possibilities of this kingdom. Fungi can not only clean up the dead matter around us, but can help clean up our insides too...........
Reason #5 – Discovering the medicinal powers of mushrooms
Cancer, watch out! There are teas that can be brewed from UK mushrooms that can fight you! There are blood pressure reducing mushrooms, sexual potentiators, liver tonics, stress relievers and even mushrooms that can combat migraines. Some can aid the recovery of HIV; others that can make run like a cheetah. Ok, they can't speed you up but there is a lot of goodness in mushrooms that can improve your condition, just what you need for your new self for the new year.
By the end of the year, we hope to work with local suppliers to be providing teas and tinctures that can help combat ailments you might have. We're always happy to talk further regarding this, so please drop us a mail if you like.
And there we have it! This year is going to be BIG. We all have a duty to care for our planet, we all have a duty to look after ourselves and all around us. We are so lucky to live in a time where we can eat what we want, when we want. It won’t make much of a change to drop meat a little and pop something different in our mouths. Next time you eat out have a look for us on the menu. It’s not only good for you, but for the ground we walk on.
Happy 2019, thanks for reading and mush love.
Chideock Champignons will feature at Bridport Vegan Market, on January 12th. Our mushrooms are also available at Felicty’s Farm Shop, or can be bought from our farm by contacting us and arranging a pick up. We deliver to local eateries.
We managed to get ourselves up and running this year, and it hasn't been easy. We have paid as much as we can in mushrooms, but we owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people, not least:
- Paul and the Anchor Team
- Felicity and all at her farm shop
- Gideon and the Giant Club
- Mirella for her arty assistancewww.mirellabandini.com/
- Richard Budd (and his amazing photos)
- All at Furleigh Estate for their amazing association (watch this space)
- Helen and all at Dorset magazine
- Catherine at Marshwood Vale magazine
- Richard, Aline, Finn and Bethan for all their help
- Kerry, for all the belief, support and understanding
- Lizzie, for all the scrubbing!
- Chris and Fiona, for lunches, hard work in the development kitchen and so much more.