Mushrooms are a Welcome Addition to Many Main Courses – From Steak to Salads. But is That Actually Mold You’re Eating?
The Short Answer:
Technically yes, mushrooms are a form of fungi, and fungi are a form of mold.
The Long Answer:
We typically think of mold or fungus as something we don’t want to consume. But humans all over the world consume various forms of mold on a daily basis. The most common mold that people eat is undoubtedly the mushroom.
A mushroom is a fungus. A fungus is a type of mold. So, while all mushrooms are derived from mold, all molds cannot be considered mushrooms. A fungus is the fruit body of mold. Despite being one of the only parts of the mold, fungi is just a small part of the greater mold.
Fungi, and by extension, mushrooms, belong to a group of mold known as saprophytes. Saprophytes live on decaying wood or plant matter, breaking their host down until only minerals and carbon dioxide remains. One key purpose of saprophytes is the conversion of decomposing organic matter into inorganic substances.
Fungi form a vampiric relationship with the organic matter on which they grow, drawing on it for energy from which to extract nutrients. The mold then provides nutrients from which other plants can grow, creating a cycle of life.