Growing Mushrooms from Coffee Grounds
I had to post this for the sake of my mother and stepfather. This will sound so weird, but is kind of funny and cool: my mom and stepdad forage for mushrooms. I don’t remember exactly how they got into it. All I know is that they started finding edible mushrooms, bringing them home, and making me delicious meals with them. They know how to tell which ones are poisonous. They even have a “mushroom garden” in their backyard where they have cut logs that harvest different types of shrooms, ready to be picked and added to the dinner ingredients.
Imagine being able to pick your own mushrooms. Sounds strange, right? My parents have made it possible in one way, but today I read about another even BETTER method of harvesting mushrooms. Quoted from a great post by FastCompany:
“In 2009, Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez were recent graduates of the University of California at Berkeley who had both been offered positions in consulting and investment banking. Yet both were stuck on an idea they came across in their business ethics class: Gourmet mushrooms grow and flourish in recycled coffee grounds; thus, waste from one industry could be fertile ground for another. Trash, if not treasure, could be a sustainable and cost-free raw material.
The two set to experimenting with growing mushrooms in coffee grounds in the basement of Velez’s fraternity. They managed one crop in an old paint bucket and immediately charged out to their local Whole Foods, where they showed their harvest to the first person they saw in the produce department: ‘Hey, look, we grew these mushrooms.'”
These guys literally grew a business by using old coffee grounds. It’s pretty incredible. After approaching Whole Foods with their idea, they were able to come up with a way to make the process work. Arora and Velez approached Peet’s Coffee and asked to use their coffee grounds, which would normally be picked up for disposal. Instead of having to pay a company to pick up and dispose of the old coffee grounds, Peet’s was able to give away the grounds to Arora and Velez, and do away with having to pay for disposal (as the guys came and picked up the grounds themselves). After using the grounds for growing the mushrooms, Arora and Velez found farmers that wanted to use the recycled grounds, as the process of mushroom growth actually added beneficial nutrients to the grounds that normally wouldn’t be there. Talk about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure!
I am 100% amazed at the ingenuity of these two guys and the company they formed, Back to the Roots. Not only did they prove that one small idea can grow into something bigger and better, but they’ve taken sustainability to an understandable and approachable level. I am going to buy one of their mushroom-growing kits for my parents, so if you’re interested head on over to their website, or visit a Peet’s Coffee store to pick one up.