Her Mushroom Jerky Is Healthy for You — and the Earth

Sign in to save article

If you only eat plant-based foods, cooking your own meals is usually the easiest way to maintain your diet. But finding yummy snacks can be challenging. To make veggie-friendly snacks without additives or processed ingredients more accessible, Gina Shi created Munchrooms — a 100 percent plant-based, non-GMO mushroom-jerky company based in San Francisco. A variety of Asian flavors are used to season the jerky, making it a delicious, healthy snack alternative. 

“During a work trip to Asia, my snacking obsession led me to discover a variety of interesting plant-based snacks that were both delicious and healthy,” Shi tells CircleAround. These kinds of snacks were not available when she returned to the States, however, so her only option was to create them herself. 

Shi traveled around the world to study ingredients and create recipes based on cultures where plant-based, healthy snacks already exist. Shi cites Taiwan as her largest influence, as it’s “a country known for exceptional plant-based foods and mushroom-cultivation techniques.” She developed a partnership with a family already processing food in a vegan-friendly way. With their help, she created her savory, mushroom-based jerky.

“The more I learned about mushrooms, the more fascinated I was by all of the different culinary and medicinal applications they have, as well as their nutritional benefits,” she adds. Through her research, Shi was able to create a Mushrooms 101 guide for consumers wanting to know about the benefits of fungi, like that they are a low-calorie snack, an excellent source of selenium, potassium, vitamin B2, B3, and vitamin D, and can even help reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and support digestive health. It has also been reported that the antioxidants in mushrooms can help fight signs of aging

"It's important to build a support network of other individuals in similar situations, so you can be each other's cheerleaders."

But beyond the health benefits, Shi is proud of the low-carbon footprint her small business leaves. “Mushrooms are also good for the planet,” Shi says. “Growing one pound of mushrooms requires less than two gallons of water, versus the 2,000 gallons necessary to grow one pound of beef.” All that’s required for processing is slicing, marinating, drying, and seasoning the shiitake mushrooms. 


Currently, Munchrooms come in three flavors: original 5-spice, hot and spicy chili pepper, and cracked black pepper. Shi hopes to continue developing new flavors in the coming year and says many of her customers can’t believe how much the mushroom jerky tastes and feels like real jerky. 

For those looking to develop their own food-based business, Shi shares this bit of advice: “As a solo founder, it can be quite lonely at times. It's important to build a support network of other individuals in similar situations, so you can be each other's cheerleaders. Everything you plan will probably not go according to plan. Things will always take twice the time that you think they will. It's important to realize that not everything's going to go your way, and it's okay and to keep trying."

Tags: Start Up

Sign in to save article
Share

Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Love this article?

Sign up for the newsletter to get the best of CircleAround delivered right to your inbox.

Welcome
to our circle.

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us.

So CircleAround for inspiration, and the leaders of tomorrow.

About Us