The Reason You May Be Afraid Of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of those divisive foods that people either love with a passion or find entirely repulsive and avoid at all costs. For many who dislike them, it boils down to a sensory issue with their smooth, soft texture, which often said to give a rubber-like, chewy feeling. Still, there are many who enjoy mushrooms' distinctive earthy taste and love seasoning them to perfection before scarfing them down as either a topping or main course.

Mushrooms can be a misunderstood food, but they've always held their own as an ingredient that can be prepared in all kinds of creative ways. And those who are on the fence about making friends with these fungi may be able to stomach them after experimenting with different mushroom-cooking methods

However, this isn't a possibility for everyone, especially those who have developed such an aversion to mushrooms that it can be classified as a legitimate fear. Why are some people afraid of mushrooms, and what causes this phobia to arise in the first place?

The fear of mushrooms is a real thing

When you think about it, the word "fungus" generally already has a negative connotation, and it's probably the last thing you'd want to imagine in terms of putting food into your body. After all, fungus is typically associated with mold, bacteria, and all manner of grossness. Even saying the word makes some people's skin crawl — and there's a word for that. 

"Mycophobia is defined as the irrational fear of fungus and mold. Essentially, it is based on the idea that any fungus, and its environment, is toxic," explains North Spore. With more than 10,000 known species of mushrooms in the world, many of which are poisonous and will make you sick (or worse) upon consumption, this fear seems pretty understandable.

If this describes your reluctance to try even the edible forms of mushrooms that exist, there are loads of options out there to help you hack it. Start with seeking out educational resources to learn more about these fleshy morsels, how they're grown and cultivated, which ones are safe to eat, their uses, and what nutritional benefits you can get from eating them. Mushroom connoisseurs and chefs who swear by them have created recipes and detailed cooking methods that could help even the most texture-conscious eaters find something to love.