Frequently Asked Questions
+ What is the difference between fungi and mushrooms?
The fungi (singular: fungus) are living organisms that belong to their own biological kingdom. They form their own branch away from animals or plants in the tree of life. Here is an interesting fact about fungi: they are genetically closer to animals than they are to plants!
Mushrooms are a type of fungi. To be completely accurate, mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungi, and not all fungi produce mushrooms.
Fungi also include mold and yeast. At Mushlabs, we only work with fungi that produce edible mushroom bodies. This is because we want to make sure we produce food that is already proven to be safe and delicious for human consumption.
+ What is mycelium?
Mycelium (plural: mycelia) can be thought of as the "roots" of mushrooms. It is the vegetative (non-reproductive) part of fungi. It is usually in a form of extensive filament-like network underground. Fungi use mycelia to secrete enzymes that break down the food around them and then to absorb nutrients. So mycelium for fungi serves a function similar to the digestive tract for humans, with a difference being that the digestion takes place outside of the body for fungi.
At mushlabs, we grow and harvest the mycelium of the mushroom-forming fungi, because the mycelium grows faster and has similar or better nutritional and aroma profiles as the fruiting body (the mushroom) of the fungus.
+ What is fermentation and how does it work?
Fermentation by definition is any process in which organic substrates are chemically converted through enzymatic action by a living organism.
There are fermented foods in all cultures - tempeh, harissa, soy sauce, cheese, bread… just to name a few. Microbes ferment raw ingredients such as soy beans, milk, and flour and the byproducts from microbial metabolism result in the complex aromas and textures that we have become to love and crave in fermented foods. In the food industry, fermentation is often discussed as a food processing step. Instead, we are looking at fermentation as a food production step, by harnessing the fermentation technology inherent to fungal mycelium and harvesting the mycelial biomass as a raw ingredient for meat-alternative products.
Here is another fun fact: fermentation is an "old" technology! It has been around for at least 10000 years across many cultures. Our ancestors used fermentation to prevent food from spoiling back when there were no fridges!
+ What are sidestreams?
Sidestreams are high potential waste, by-product and residues from industrial and agricultural processes. Large portion of the original biomass is wasted during agro-industrial processing when deemed unsuitable or undesirable for human consumption.
Previously explored sidestreams for mushroom cultivation include sawdust, sugarcane bagasse, spent grain, cotton waste, rice husk, coffee and tea spent waste.
+ How sustainable is Mushlabs' technology?
Fermentors do not take up a lot of space and more importantly, can be located anywhere. We envision a decentralized system in which every city has its own fermentor with sidestream from its local industries. This way we save both space and transportation. Fermentation takes place in a closed growth system that partially reclaims water, making Mushlabs products much less water-intensive than other traditional protein sources such as beef and soy.
+ Complete vs incomplete protein?
Proteins are chains of amino acids. The human body is able to synthesize 12 out of 21 amino acids; the remaining 9 must be consumed through diet, making them essential amino acids.
When a protein source has all essential amino acids at sufficient levels to meet the recommended intake by the WHO (World Health Organisation) we call it a complete protein.
Most plant-abased proteins do not contain all nine essential amino acids making them incomplete proteins. Most mushrooms on the other hand synthesize complete proteins, making them more similar to animal proteins than plant proteins.
+ What are prebiotic fibers and why are they healthy?
Prebiotic fibers are polysaccharides that are unaffected by the endogenous enzymes in the small intestine of humans, but instead undergo digestion by the gut microbiota. They are called prebiotic because they feed the probiotics (beneficial bacteria) in our guts.
Modern humans do not eat enough fiber. Deficiency in fiber consumption has been shown to contribute to obesity, constipation, diarrhea, inflammation and intestinal cancers.
Prebiotic fiber has been shown to contribute to increased satiety, reduced inflammation, reduced cholestrol, normalized bowel movement, controlled blood sugar levels, and reinforced immune system. In short, they are just as healthy as a molecule can get!
Fungal mycelium is packed with many different classes of fiber. In particular, the fungal cell wall is abundant with beta-glucan, a class of prebiotic fiber known for its immunomodulating function.
+ What do antioxidants do in our body?
Our body produces low levels reactive oxygen species (ROS) while generating energy. At high concentrations, these ROS causes cell damage, contributing to aging and degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and immune system decline, just to name a few. Antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of free radicals by exchanging one of their own electrons with the free radical molecules to stabilize them.
Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants as well as other therapeutic compounds. In many Asian countries, mushrooms are used as medicines and many studies show their potential in treating diseases (such as cancer and diabetes) and infections.
+ What is umami?
Umami is one of the five basic tastes along with salty, bitter, sweet and sour. It is characteristic of broths, cooked meats and fermented products. Umami, originally a Japanese word, can be translated as “pleasant savoury taste".
Foods rich in umami include meat, aged cheeses, soy sauce, kimchi, seafood and of course, mushrooms!
+ How will Mushlabs' final products look like? Will it taste and look like meat?
Sausages, meatballs, spreads, burger patties... you name it! But, our goal is not to make their look-a-likes by adding artificial flavors and chemicals. Instead, we will present you with new food that not only replaces meat in traditional dishes, but also has a unique satisfying umami taste, with a dense and juicy texture and a burst of nutrients that will nourish you!
+ Are Mushlabs products vegan?
Yes, all Mushlabs products are 100% vegan.
+ Do Mushlabs products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
No. Our technology does not involve genetic engineering or use genetically modified ingredients.
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+ Are you hiring?
Yes! See our current vacancies in here
+ Can I invest in Mushlabs?
If you believe in our mission and would like to invest in the brighter future of our food system, we want to hear from you! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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