What is meati whole cuts’ star ingredient, MushroomRoot? (blog post for Meati Foods)

The bundle of branching fungi filaments called mycelium has helped feed human beings for centuries. Meati’s type is so special, we gave it a name everyone can love: MushroomRoot™ (source).

In a song by Beautiful Chorus, the musicians describe the amazing fungi structure that is behind Meati Foods’ star ingredient this way:

“We’re beneath your surface, an underground universe that’s thriving, fully alive, sensitive, resilient. We’re everywhere. We’re brilliant mycelium.”

Those branching fungi filaments are indeed generally brilliant. But our Neurospora crassa type of mycelium is so brilliant we wanted to tell everyone about it and gave it a special name to make it easier to understand what it is: MushroomRoot™.

There are many reasons why mycelium is incredible in general. It is an ancient and fibrous organism that underpins the development of life on Earth. It is an underground information network that inspired the idea of the “wood wide web.” It is the largest known living thing. It is a networked ballet of tubular fibers, a superhighway of nutrients, a miracle of mycorrhiza.

Just like a tree’s roots, the bundle of fungi filaments called mycelium that underpin mushrooms are seeking out nutrients. You can find mycelium in forest floors, in the ocean, in farmer’s soil, and just about anywhere this miraculously adaptable living network can find energy to drive its growth. At Meati Foods, you can find our species of mycelium (MushroomRoot!) submerged in big steel tanks holding nutrient-rich water and sugar.

Not all mycelia are the same. There are countless species and strains within the fungi kingdom. Some produce fruiting bodies, which we all know as mushrooms. Some produce mycotoxins to help them counter threats they might find in their environment. Meati™ MushroomRoot does not make either.

A big one, and something you may be worried about, is that a lack of mycotoxins means meati MushroomRoot requires no extra purification treatments and is completely safe to eat (not to mention delicious, nutritious, and planet-friendly).

Still concerned? How about this: Mycelia have been used in human diets for centuries. The filamentous fungi Aspergillus oryzae is behind sake, miso, and many other foods and drinks. Tempeh, eaten by millions of people around the globe, is an ancient food made of soybeans fermented with Rhizopus oligosporus. And have you ever tried products from Quorn, Prime Roots, Bosque Foods, or MyForest? Those companies also use mycelium. (Go ahead and give them a shot — we believe you’ll like meati cutlets and steaks better!)

And though we hate to burst everyone’s bubble, calling meati products “mushroom meat” is technically incorrect. Our star ingredient, again, doesn’t produce any fruiting bodies, aka mushrooms. You also may be wondering why we describe our mycelium as MushroomRoot. We just said our type of fungi does not generate the fruiting bodies common to grocery store aisles, so what gives?

Our goal is to make it easy and speedy for you to make smart decisions about your food, so we wanted to lean on familiar terms that lay out the critical information at a glance. MushroomRoot ticks those boxes. For one, it tells you which kingdom our food comes from. At the same time, it tells you meati products are made of the fibrous network that underlies the fruiting body we call mushroom. If you think of mycelium being like the roots of an apple tree, then mushrooms would be akin to apples. To make everyone feel better, it’s worth pointing out that even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes some liberties here: It refers to mushrooms as plants, even though they are part of a different biological kingdom.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, you’re probably wondering: Where did meati MushroomRoot come from? So glad you asked! MushroomRoot (meati N. crassa mycelium!) can be found in the burned areas left in the wake of wildfires. It was one of thousands of species and strains of fungi our founders went through to find the one that is incredibly nutritious, efficient to grow, flavor flexible, textured just right, and safe.

Another part of what makes meati MushroomRoot so special is its incredible ability to take what plants do best — produce energy in the form of sugar — and efficiently convert it into a complete-protein whole food that ends up free of sugar, low in cholesterol, easily absorbed, and packed with fiber and vitamins.

For carnivores worried about the eating experience, meati cuts’ nuanced texture, naturally generated by the fibrous happy hyphae of MushroomRoot, has some meat-eaters saying it would be very difficult to tell that animals have nothing to do with it.

Given the characteristics of MushroomRoot, it is remarkable that it hasn’t become a staple of people’s diets around the globe. This is a natural, nutrient-rich food with a low environmental impact that was made for an era of vanishing arable land, rapidly depleting fresh water supplies, and existential threats to the environment. The world needs to transform how it feeds itself. It is not enough for new foods to just be good for the planet. They have to taste great without sacrificing healthiness. Meati MushroomRoot can be a powerful part of changing our food system. Will you join the evolution?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.