Friday, February 25, 2011

Mushrooms on a Fruitarian Diet.

Another question I received in my inbox a short while ago, from a guy named Bernard in Stavanger (Norway), pertained to the eating of mushrooms on a fruitarian diet:

Is eating mushroom ok for fruitarians?

He then clarified that he wasn't referring to blue meanies, gold tops or other psychedelic mind altering trippy mushrooms..

Well, firstly, I think I'm going to apologize in advance for once more being repetitive, because I know that much of what I'm going to write I've already said before, albeit no doubt slightly different word orders.. But anyhow, here goes..

Firstly, I wish to reiterate that I am fully aware that the term fruitarian pertaining to fruitarianism, is habitually loosely interpreted by many, and much as I'd love to see it mean eater of solely fruit, colloquially this is clearly very much not the case. And even when my definition is agreed upon, there exists much confusion as to what exactly a fruit is. So I would like to refer you to my previous blog posts, My definition of Fruitarianism, and What is a fruit?.

So bearing in mind that I'm defining fruitarianism as a lifestyle that revolves around eating purely fruit, then the simple yes/no answer to the question of whether or not mushrooms are part of a fruitarian diet, is no, they are clearly not fruits..

However, all things said and done, I tend to have my own little vision of what qualifies as food.. sort of my own internal "food pyramid", similar to the traditional food pyramid, knocked together by the meat and dairy industry as part of their ingenious flesh marketing strategy, mine is also a simple pyramid with layers..

My pyramid supposes that all this food be eaten in a 100% raw natural state. Once the cooking process is added as an ingredient, the pyramid I propose would become much more complicated, and require additional layering with a great deal more potential for overlap.

Fruitarian Food Pyramid concept:

The bottom layer contains the edible(?) flesh portions of animals, every mammal, fowl and fish you can name etc. Slightly above it, with some overlap, I'd stick the bi-products of the animal flesh trade, and other items that originate from deliberate animal abuse, dairy products, milk, cheese, yogurts etc, eggs, lards and oils of animal sources etc, the overlap is diffuse, and not altogether clear. The next layer up, are the root vegetables, the carrots, parsnips and turnips etc.. things that necessitate the direct and unavoidable intentional killing of plants. Above that, I would have another layer, again with a slight overlap perhaps, depending on production methods, with tubers, like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, and Jerusalem artichokes, things which on a small scale can potentially be harvested gently from the ground with minimal harm to the plant, and if care taken the food can be eaten, and eyes cut out from the potato or similar to regrow new plants. Moving up the triangle one more notch, once more with a potential for overlap, I would place nuts, seeds and grains.. Grains and seeds being potentially far more destructive, so perhaps I might place them further down the pyramid. Truth be known, my pyramid is far from finalized.. Anyhow, above the nuts and stuff, I'd place greens, again, there is definitely room for overlap, as method of growing and harvesting surely plays a role, as with small scale home gardening, many greens can be harvested in a far less destructive manner than traditional farming methods allow. Above the greens, again overlapping, I would place mushrooms, especially self picked forest & field ones. and then right at the top, is the fruit.

me and my friend in the garden 2 days ago
Clearly I've missed out some of what gets eaten, like crustaceans, snails, frogs, insects, grubs and the like, which I'd probably place in that vague area between layers 1 and 2 and 3, then there's seaweed, algae I don't know, probably more that I've forgotten, legumes, and the seeds I would differentiate as to whether sprouted or not, but I think you get the rough gist of things..

Unlike the traditional food pyramid, the aim is not to eat balanced from all food groups, but to aspire instead to the pinnacle of foods, and just eat fruit. Obviously, if there is no fruit around, and one must eat other things, then move down the pyramid as far as you feel comfortable. In the grand scheme of things, mushrooms are most definitely not the worst choice. Of course, the ultimate goal is to settle in an environment where the food you are comfortable with is readily and affordably available.

Knowing what our goals are is a matter of individual choice, attempting to keep sight of them, is crucial to attaining them.


parsley said...

Hi Mango!
Great to see you bringing up the topic of mushrooms! I am still a little unclear on their classification tho... are they fruit are not? When we eat mushroom caps, these are referred to as "fruit bodies" because the roots are still in the ground and the caps contain spores, which we can shake on the ground to grow more mushrooms. So is a mushroom a fruit? And what is a mushroom? It's a fungus, which is somewhere between an animal and a plant. Some people believe that mushrooms have a consciousness different than plants and closer to animals - so then is it murder to eat a mushroom fruit body?

Fruitarian Mango said...

Hi Lindsay,
well.. people call fish fruits of the sea, doesn't make them really fruit, at least not botanically.. "fruit" has several broader meanings, that I get could encompass mushroom, but from a fruitarian point of view, a fruit is the edible portion of the plant that contains the seed of the plant. Or at least traditionally once did.. It is clearly a part of the plant that has been in some way designed, whether through evolution, creationism, alien intervention or some other yet hypothesized theory is irrelevant. It's clear with fruit that the plant offers it to be eaten. There can be no real doubt.

With a mushroom however, that clarity is not forthcoming. maybe the spores are somewhat like seeds. as you say, the tops can be taken off and shaken. I guess I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them be.. besides.. what is also clear is the colourful attraction of fruit that mushrooms lack.

As you can see from my roughly knocked together pyramid, I stick them near the top, so most definitely not the worst of foods, but not quite at the top either.. In fact, I could further refine the pyramid to separate annual fruits from tree fruits, those that require seasonal uprooting to those that live for decades. I reckon if you're eating near the top of the pyramid, and aspiring into fruit, you are already way on the right track.

Orange said...

Hi Mango;
Thank you very much, It was very informative as always. I was wondering what your thoughts are on coconut water.

Fruitarian Mango said...

ahh.. coconut water.. I feel another blog post in the brewing.. I'll get to that sooner or later.


Fruitarian Mango said...

@orange.. well.. just knocked together some words on my thoughts on coconuts.. coconuts on fruit diet.

Adam said...

Dear Mango:

There are several colorful edible mushrooms. Check out golden and pink oyster mushrooms for a start, then check out some of the edible boletes; they are colorful and very beautiful.

Your attachment of the terms "design" and "offering" to help define "fruit" is pretty shaky to me, but let's go with it:

Certain mushroom species are specifically evolved to spend part of their life-cycle in the guts of animals. Spores of the pilobolus mushroom are consumed by cows and then germinate and grow mushrooms after they are pooped out.

Like-wise, there is an entire family of "fungus loving beetles" that eat mushrooms and spread spores.

Spores are similar to seeds, except plants fertilize the seeds before releasing them (usually) and spores mate with one another after being released from the mushroom and finding a suitable substrate to grow on.

Millions and millions of spores can be released from a single mushroom cap. If you goal is to encourage to propagation and survival of mushrooms, then it would behoove you to pick mushrooms, carry them around in an open basket while hunting, and then take them back home to eat. This would increase the range of spore dispersal and help the propagate genetic material over a greater area, increasing chances of survival.

Mushrooms are short-lived aspects of the entire fungal life-cycle, and they are just the "tip of the iceberg" in terms of total fungal biomass.

Most mushrooms will rot and completely die within a week or two of first appearing. At this time they will be consumed by bacteria and insects. Would it be any less noble of a fate for the mushroom to contribute to human nutrition.

The most valid reason that I see for excluding mushrooms from a fruit diet is that they belong to the kingdom fungi and not the kingdom plantae.

If we are to go by that logic, then wouldn't bacteria also be off limits? I assume you eat some bacteria, since we all do. There exist quite naturally within many fruits.

Interestingly enough, our bodies contain more bacterial, viral, and fungal cells than the do human cells. Look it up, very fascinating.

There is also the issue of fermented food and drink. I don't know if you consume anything that is fermented or not, but those foods usually contain colonies of fungi and/or bacteria.

Now, co-evolution of edible mushrooms and homo-sapiens makes for interesting study.

For instance, did you know that some species of psychedelic mushrooms only grow in areas populated by humans? These species live near centers of human activity (ground disturbances, fires, landscaping, etc), and do not thrive in areas away from humans.

Also, mushrooms are susceptible to many of the same viral and bacterial pathogens as humans, and they produce immune enhancing metabolites to fight infection. Extractions of these metabolites have shown to increase immunity in humans as well.

Considering that mushrooms must be cooked in order to be digested (mushrooms have cell walls made of chitin, and cooking allows our enzymes to break them down), I dare say it's possible that a co-evolutionary relationship between homo-sapiens and edible mushrooms exploded around the time we started using fire to cook our foods.

Fruitarian Mango said...

hi adam,
well, as i've attempted to explain, I see mushrooms as one of the better choices of food, just not THE best. Much as some may be colourful, their colours are never as appealing and vibrant as that of fruit.

I also, admittedly, am not familiar with mushrooms enough to recognise what's edible raw, and what's not, and the fact that many, or possibly most, need to be cooked first, is also off putting. I try personally to avoid fire.

I hear what you are saying about certain mushrooms seemingly only existing in the presence of humans, but my goal is not specifically to help all species flourish. If certain mushrooms may benefit from being digested first, I feel no obligation to help them with that process.

You're last comment, comparing mushrooms with bacteria is akin to the one I get that breathing kills bacteria, and thus I should stop breathing, walking, moving etc.. I have never tried to propose that fruitarianism offers a way of existence where one can live entirely without ever somehow causing the death or injury to another life form. Much as I'd like this to be possible, and much as I aspire to live in an environment where such would be possible, I am realistic enough to see that while on this planet at least, there will always be room for improvement. Thus if one GENUINELY feels a desire to not harm fungi/bacteria, one can avoid doing so to visible, tangible examples, but one would be hard-pushed to do so for invisible, intangible examples..

Just because one cannot avoid harm to some, does not mean one should say screw it all, I'll harm everything.

Unknown said...

Absolutely Mango! Mushrooms are not only the fruiting body of mycelium, but certain wild ones that are easy to identify, contain vit b-12 :D. but yes, mushroom =fruit=joy

Mansi Sharma said...

"In fact, I could further refine the pyramid to separate annual fruits from tree fruits, those that require seasonal uprooting to those that live for decades. " - a statement from one of your answers. I am really dying to know which fruits you will place on the topmost place in your pyramid - perennial fruit trees that are not uprooted unlike seasonal fruit trees... Please guide me as soon as possible.

Fruitarian Mango said...

Mansi,it looks like your definition of fruit is not broad enough.. I am of course making a comparison between things like tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins... and fruit trees.. the first are annual, the 2nd perennial.. :)

Mansi Sharma said...

Please tell me the names of some of those perennial fruit trees.. Want to substitute "tomato-cucumber" portion of my diet with these perennial fruits.

Fruitarian Mango said...

Mansi Sharma, I am not really sure I understand your question.. Perennial fruit trees are pretty much ALL fruit trees.. mangoes, apples, pears, oranges, jackfruit, durian, cherries etc etc.. Most every tree I can think of gives fruit every year unless it is sick, suffering or dying..