represents a large group of vegetal organisms (there are
about 100.000 species, divided in about 3.000 orders),
Despite belonging to vegetable kind, they do not have
leaves, stems, flowers or roots; they reproduce
themselves through spores, i.e. microscopical structures
analogous to plant's seeds, from which germinate the
mycelium - a pleach of very little filaments called
hyphae -, partially hidden in the ground or under fallen
The mycelium is the real mushroom, even though what we
usually call mushroom is just the carpophore, i.e. the
Mushrooms are ecologically very important because they
allow for recycling of organical residues by demolishing
them with the help of bacteria.
Many species of mushrooms are used in dairy-farming
(fermented cheese), in pharmaceutical industry
(production of antibiotics, of vitamins), in chemistry
(production of citric and gallic acid, enzymes) and in
enological-farming, as saccharomycetes are responible for
But there are also many parasitical species that damage
other vegetal or animal species (mycosis) and that often
causes structural deterioration too.
When we speak about mushrooms, however, we naturally
think of the wonderful protagonists of our autumnal
gastronomy and, thanks to the grown mushrooms, of
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
ancient times mushrooms have always been appreciated: in
China they were called "food of gods", and they
had a first-place-role on the tables of Egyptians and
Then, in classic Greek, they are mentioned by doctor
Dioscorydes and enthusiastically praised by Theophrastus,
student and successor of Aristotle in the direction of
Hence the fame of mushrooms reaches Rome, where they are
soon appreciated by gournets and lauded by literates as
Jovinal (mushrooms and fig-peckers were his favourite
meal), Plutarch and Oratius, who considered the
meadow-mushrooms (the very ones who are now grown) to be
superior to every food. They are mentioned even by the
greatest naturalist, Pliny the Old, in its work
"Naturalis Historia", meanwhile the most famous
chef in the classic world, M. G. Apicius, collected a
high number of recipes in "De re coquinaria".
During the Middle Age their fame dropped because nobility
loved meat (especially game), even though they often
appeared on the tables of Federico II in Foggia.
We read that Federico had very detailed ideas on the
conservation of mushrooms which " ... had to become
whiter by boiling in water, then had to be salted"
before being placed in little butts called
In the other hand, due to the work of inquiry and
diffusion of culture made by monasteries, now mushrooms
becomes part of popular gastronomy.
So, mushrooms were appreciated and studied even in the
Middle Age and in the Renaissance: they were even judged
so tasteful and aphrodisiac that were banished by the
Saint Office because they turned the pilgrim's mind off
the penitence related to the Jubilee.
More recently, we see that the eating of this worthy food
has always been restrained by the fear of their
venomouseness (only at the end of '700 they discovered
that it's not caused by the absorption of poison present
in the ground or in the plant with which the mushroom is
in symbiosis, but it depends on the nature of certain
kind of mushrooms) and by their discontinuous
availableness, linked to seasons.
That's why man tried for so long to grown mushrooms, with
great difficulties, due to the extreme frailty of the
For over one century, however, first in France and then
in Italy too, especially in the province of Treviso,
every problem is overcome and a new industrial activity
The species of mushrooms grown mainly in Italy are: the
Meadow Mushroom or Champignon [Psalliota Hortensis], 78%
of the complete production, the Plerotus Ostreatus, 20%,
and the 2% of other kinds such us the Agaricus.
The national consumption has evolved in the last years
but remains not very high.
In fact, we seems to ignore not only the quality of our
grown mushrooms, but also the grastronimical resources
that they offer.
Even though not very expensive, these mushrooms are
available all the year and are a quite refined side dish
Recently there has been alarmism regarding mushrooms,
because they tend to accumulate toxic heavy metals (e.d.
cadmium and lead) and radioactivity.
This danger is certainly real for spontaneous mushrooms,
but surely not for the grown ones..
Regarding radiocativity, we must remember that these
mushrooms are produced in greenhouses, so they are not
contaminated by uranium bullets or by the more dangerous
Regarding the ground used, mr. Luca Francescutti (Nuova
Agrifung company in Trevignano - TV), who is one of the major
producer of this compost, assures that "it is
obtained from a fermented and then pasteurized mixture of
straw and chicken's dung. It's absolutely secure".
Once stated the complete health of the product, let's
analize the dietetic and alimental features of grown
But before that, it's necessary to clarify the main
principle of a health