Can Mushroom-Enhanced Burgers Get Kids to Eat More Produce?

By Justine Sterling Posted March 07, 2016

It’s unlikely that kids will ever opt for a green salad or quinoa bowl over a burger at the school cafeteria, but a new kind of patty could get them to eat more produce.

The Blend Burger, a collaborative project between the Mushroom Council and French foodservice company Sodexo, is a combination of bleed and finely-chopped mushrooms. Why mushrooms? Aside from the Mushroom Council's involvement, beef and mushrooms are a classic combination—just think about seared steaks topped with a mushroom cream sauce or old-school beef stroganoff or even a giant burger smothered in Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms.

It's well-established that mushrooms can enhance your beef experience, but the real goal here is displacement. According to Food Navigator, the Mushroom Council estimates that stuffing burger patties with funghi will remove 250 million calories, 38 million grams of fat, 15 million grams of saturated fat and 304 million milligrams of sodium from the 7 million student meals Sodexo serves nationwide, in 250 American school districts, each month.

The Blend Burger might sounds like a sneaky way to inject kids’ diets with more nutritional value, but Sodexo and the Mushroom Council plan on being very transparent. The two groups sent a newsletter out to parents announcing the change and encouraging families to start incorporating the mix of mushrooms and meat at home. “We are super-proud of the mushroom Blend Burger and we would love for people to know they are eating mushrooms,” Kathleen Preis, leader of the school nutrition department at the Mushroom Council, told Food Navigator. If the pilot tests at Sodexo-fed schools are to be believed, then it shouldn’t prove difficult to get kids eating the Blend Burgers once they try them: 85 percent of students liked them more than the all-beef burgers.

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