Mushrooms are neither vegetables nor meat. However, they are known as the “meat of the vegetable world.”

While considered a fungus, a mushroom can grow in soil, like a vegetable, and some mushrooms feature a meat-like texture. Hence, the meat-vegetable moniker. Most importantly, mushrooms provide an undertone of earthiness to other food items. They add a nice touch to salads, pizzas quesadillas, pasta and omlets. And who doesn’t like mushroom soup?

When purchasing mushrooms, look for firm and smooth ones, with dry caps. Avoid damp, pitted or dried-out mushrooms. And once you buy them, you can put them in the fridge or in a paper bag, but you generally want to eat them within a few days.

People who collect mushrooms for consumption are called mycophagists, but the act of collecting them is simply called mushroom hunting or mushrooming.

Branden Janikowski actually grows his mushrooms in a greenhouse and sells them at farmers’ markets. His mushrooms include pioppino, Lion’s Mane, shiitake amd blue oyester mushrooms.

His king oyster mushrooms pair well with seafood, poultry and red meat while his poippinos go great with pastas and red meat. See more about his mushrooms on his Facebook page or visit him at the farmer’s markets in San Luis Obispo (Thursdays and Saturdays) and Arroyo Grande (Wednesdays).