Last week I spent a day hanging out with some blogger friends at the Blended Tour & Restaurant Launch Event, hosted by Mushrooms Canada and the Beef Farmers of Ontario. I learned a lot about where Canadian mushrooms and beef come from, and I want to share some of that with you today.
Media tours are always fun, because they’re basically field trips for adults. I love being able to catch up with my blogging friends on the bus while en route to the main event. For this tour, our first stop was a cattle ranch in Tillsonburg, Ontario called Y U Ranch.
When we arrived to the ranch, we were greeted by Bryan Gilvesy (who co-owns the ranch with his wife). After a brief introduction, and a beautiful hike through the woods on his property, Bryan loaded us onto the back of a track and drove us through the field to see his cows up close.
At YU Ranch, they raise grass-fed Texas Longhorn cattle. The cows that you see in my photos are females. Are you surprised? I was! I didn’t know that female cows could have long horns like that, because I’ve only ever seen dairy cows before (and they have very short horns).
Like many other beef farmers, the Gilvesy’s have demonstrated their commitment to the environment for years by focusing on water and soil health, managing grasslands and protecting wildlife habitat. This, in turn, benefits their cows and helps to create a superior product.
I won’t lie – it did make me a little uncomfortable to see the cows up close. Not only because I was worried that I might fall off the truck and get impaled on one of those enormous horns, but because the cows are actually pretty cute – and will eventually be someone’s dinner. But that’s the reality of eating meat, right? We need to know where our food comes from, and it helps to know that these cows enjoy their time at Y U Ranch before their time comes.
Quick Facts About Beef and Nutrition
• Beef is packed with nutrition. Each serving of beef contains 14 essential nutrients and is a protein powerhouse.
• Compared to a 75g chicken breast, 75 grams of beef has 200% more iron, 600% more vitamin B12 and 700% more zinc.
• A person would need to eat 104 almonds (728 calories) to get the same amount of protein found in 75g (184 calories) of cooked beef.
• About half the fat in beef is monounsaturated, the same fat found in olive oil.
• Canadians consume approximately 39lbs of beef a year.
After the tour at Y U Ranch, we headed over to Whitecrest Mushrooms near Putnam, Ontario.
Murray Good, his wife Chantelle, and two sons own and operate the Whitecrest Mushrooms farm. Along with 38 farm hands, they grow brown agaricus – better known as Portabella and Crimini mushrooms. Although they grow 2 million pounds annually, they are considered to be a small farm compared to other mushroom farms in Canada.
Whitecrest Mushrooms is motivated to become Canada’s leading mushroom supplier by leading in innovation, adhering to exacting quality standards, and conducting all growing and manufacturing operations in an environmentally-friendly manner. Their commitment to hygiene is impressive too – we all washed our shoes and donned hair caps before even entering the main hallway of the building.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason I thought that all mushrooms grew on logs. This is not the case (duh!). In reality, only shiitake mushrooms grow on logs.
See that photo with the metal frames? Those are holding millions of cremini mushrooms. Millions! And this was just one room in the building, so you can just imagine how many mushrooms are grown in that facility every day.
Unlike most vegetables in the produce section, mushrooms come from Canadian farms every day of the year, even during the winter months! Fresh mushrooms are harvested and delivered fresh to local stores 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 day a year.
Agaricus mushrooms (which are brown and white mushrooms) grow in a pasteurized substrate, which is 100% bacteria free dirt. In fact, that black stuff that you usually see on mushrooms at the store is nothing more than peat moss, which you can simply brush away. You really don’t need to wash mushrooms, unless you plucked them out of a communal bin that has been visited by a hundred other hands. Packaged mushrooms are already very clean.
Mushrooms don’t require light to grow, but the rooms are (of course) lit so the workers can see what they are doing. Whitecrest Mushrooms has some alternative growing methods that are pretty interesting too. For instance, they play rock music for their mushrooms (Guns N’ Roses was blaring over the speaker system when we arrived), and write positive messages on their water tanks to encourage healthy growth. Those are growing methods that I can support!
Mushrooms are harvested by hand, and the harvesters have to treat the mushrooms tenderly to avoid bruises and scratches. There’s love in the process from beginning to end, which is really nice to see.
Quick Facts About Canadian Mushrooms:
There are 7 common varieties of edible mushrooms commercially grown in Canada:
1. White “Button” Mushrooms
2. Cremini “Brown” Mushrooms
3. Portabella Mushrooms (& Portabellini/Baby Bellas)
4. Shiitake Mushrooms
5. Oyster Mushrooms
6. Enoki Mushrooms
7. King Oyster Mushrooms
The most popular mushroom variety in Canada is the White mushroom (Button), followed the Brown mushroom (Cremini and Portabella).
Quick Facts About Mushrooms and Nutrition
- Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, and panotothenic acid.
- Mushrooms are a source of important minerals such as selenium, copper, and potassium.
- Mushrooms contain both soluble fibre and insoluble fibre.
- Mushrooms also contain Vitamin D
Did you know that one portabella mushroom has the same amount of potassium as a small banana? They are also the only item in your produce department with natural Vitamin D. Mushrooms are 90% water content and are low in calories, sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat.
For more information visit mushrooms.ca
What is Blend and Extend?
Ok, so what is this “Blend and Extend” thing that I mentioned in the title of this post? Basically, it’s a concept that encourages peoples to combine mushrooms and beef in recipes to bring another serving of vegetables to the plate, add volume to meals and extend portions.
By substituting a portion of the ground beef with mushrooms, you can lighten up family favourites like burgers, spaghetti, pizza and tacos. Finely chopped mushrooms look similar and blend seamlessly with ground beef, so your favourite recipes can be satisfying without losing taste or sacrificing texture.
- Decreases Calories
- Lowers Saturated Fat & Cholesterol Content
- Increases Vegetable Intake
- Adds Flavour & Boosts Umami
For more information visit blendandextend.ca.
I had a chance to taste this blended burger while on the media tour, and I can tell you that it’s delicious. The mushrooms help to keep the burger patty moist, and adds tons of flavour too. Want to try this burger for yourself? The Blend & Extend menu is launching on June 12th at both Borealis locations (Kitchener and Guelph) and is running through until July 15th.
The information in this post has been provided by Mushrooms Canada and the Beef Farmers of Ontario.
This post is not sponsored, however the media tour was.