Q: Are mushrooms food permitted by God? Can an Adventist eat mushrooms? In the Garden of Eden, God gave man three types of food: tree fruit; herbal and green, and plants with seeds. Mushrooms don’t belong to any of these categories. — Valery, from Ukraine.
A: Valery, you may find it interesting that although mushrooms are classified as fungi today, they were known as plants for most of the world’s history. While not technically seeds, spores may be described as “seeds” in general terms.
For more specific information regarding eating mushrooms, I’ve consulted with Dr. Fred Hardinge, an associate director of the Health Ministries department of the General Conference, who holds the degree of doctor of public health and is a registered dietitian. He says the following:
“A variety of mushrooms are found in food sources. These are most often grown on mushroom farms and are safe to use as a food. Mushrooms have been used for food for thousands of years. Two things should be kept in mind:
“1. Wash fresh mushrooms very thoroughly since they are often grown in animal manure. They might be contaminated with some harmful bacteria. Cooking or frying will kill the bacteria.
“2. Mushrooms are a fair source of protein and B vitamins for the vegetarian, but they are not a good food source of Vitamin B12.
“The church leaves it up to the individual decision of church member as to the consumption of mushrooms. We do not have any official recommendations or guidelines.”
There are many varieties of mushrooms and, of course, you need to make sure you know which are safe and which are poisonous. However, there is no church or health prohibition about eating appropriate mushrooms which can be a helpful part of a vegetarian diet.