Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

Are Mushrooms Unclean?

Jewish rabbinical authority is NOT the final authority on determining whether or not mushrooms and other fungi (truffles) may be eaten. Rabbinical authorities rejected the Messiah. They should not be considered infallible on the topic of kosher certification or determining clean and unclean creatures. Mushrooms are not green, are the fruit of decayed matter, do not come from a "mushroom tree," and do not have seeds -- therefore they should be avoided.

by George Lujack

Most Jewish rabbinical authorities have determined that mushrooms and other fungi (truffles) that are non-poisonous, non-toxic, and considered "edible," are clean and kosher fungi. This article will challenge that determination, arguing the case against mushrooms as being classified as edible clean kosher fungi, and will declare them UNCLEAN.

Notice what Comptons Encyclopedia has to say:

"Mushrooms are members of a large group of flowerless plants, the fungi. They contain no green coloring matter (chlorophyll) by means of which most other plants manufacture their food. Some obtain nourishment from decayed organic matter and are known as saprophytes."

And what, you might ask, is a saprophyte? Let Wikipedia answer:

" A saprophyte or saprotroph is an organism which gets its energy from dead and decaying organic matter. This may be decaying pieces of plants or animals...Some fungi are parasites on living organisms, but most are saprophytes...slime moulds are also saprophytes, as well as consuming bacteria."

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English adds: "noun (Bot.) Any plant growing on decayed animal or vegetable matter, as most fungi and some flowering plants with no green color, as the Indian pipe."

Going, now, back to Comptons Encyclopedia, we read:

"Others [Mushrooms] require food from living tissue and are therefore parasites. The part of the mushroom plant which rises above the ground is only the fruiting body of the fungus."

Most Jewish kosher certification authorities classify mushrooms as clean and kosher, even though they acknowledge that mushrooms are not green-pigmented chlorophyll herbs, they do not use sunlight to synthesize nutrition from carbon dioxide and water (generating oxygen as a byproduct), and they do not produce plant-like seeds (they reproduce with spores). Jewish rabbinical authorities have classified "edible" mushrooms and other fungi (truffles) as clean creatures, based on the fact that Scripture does not specifically list fungi as unclean.

Notice what the Bible says in Genesis 1:11-12, 29-30:

"Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth'; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

"And God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food;' and it was so."

Then, in Genesis 9:3: "Every moving thing that liveth [further defined by Leviticus 11] shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." Mushrooms are not green, are the fruit of decayed matter, do not come from a "mushroom tree," and do not have seeds.

YEHOVAH God's original command to man of what he should eat for food is stated in Genesis 1:29-30 above. Adhering to a strict application of Genesis 1:29-30, it is not reasonable to conclude that YEHOVAH God permits mushrooms to be consumed, as well as green herbs, simply because Scripture does not specifically forbid them to be eaten. There are no subsequent Scripture verses that grant permission for man to consume mushrooms or any other form of fungi.

"Clean fungi" is a contradiction-sounding oxymoronic phrase.

YEHOVAH God, through the Scriptures, didn't specifically forbid every possible human activity that is harmful to human health. Smoking tobacco plants (cigarettes) is something that YEHOVAH did not specifically prohibit in Scripture, yet smoking is known to be harmful to human health, weakens the body, causes bodily diseases, and shortens people's life spans. Since smoking cigarettes is harmful to human health, it does not need to be specifically named as a prohibited activity in order to know that YEHOVAH God does not approve of smoking.

Unclean Characteristics of Mushrooms


Mushrooms are growing fungi organisms with no chlorophyll, flowers, or leaves. Fungi get their nourishment from dead or living organic matter. Mushrooms are not chlorophyll-pigmented green vegetation herbs. Green herbs receive their life-sustaining energy by photosynthesizing energy from carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water. Mushrooms do not use sunlight for energy and thrive better in dark shaded areas. Mushrooms get their nutrition by feeding off dead or living plants and trees, rather than getting their nutrients from the soil. There are some varieties of mushrooms that are green in color, but any mushroom variety that is green is due to random coloration; their color is not derived from chlorophyll, as green vegetation herbs are.

Inedible, Poisonous, and Toxic Varieties Are Numerous:

There are many inedible and poisonous species of mushrooms. People often get sick by having a negative digestive reaction after eating "edible" mushrooms. Some people are highly allergic to all types of "edible" mushrooms as well as all other types of fungi. Mushrooms can spoil easily and become poisonous or toxic if not stored and preserved properly. Based on the known mushroom varieties, a rough estimate is that 50% are inedible -- that is they can't be eaten because they are too tough to chew, 29% are considered edible, 20% are toxic and will make you sick if eaten, and 1% can kill you if consumed [1].

Mushroom poisoning (also known as mycetism or mycetismus) refers to the harmful effects from the ingesting of toxic substances present in mushrooms. Symptoms can vary from slight stomach discomfort to death. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning can include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea (which can be bloody). Symptoms may show up right after eating mushrooms or may occur several hours later. Typically, mushroom poisonings that produce symptoms within 2-hours are less dangerous than mushroom poisonings that produce symptoms later on, after 6-hours [2].

Picking mushrooms in a field at random and eating them is dangerous, as many varieties are poisonous or toxic. Only mushroom experts can tell which mushrooms are safe or not, and even the experts are fooled sometimes and have been known to get sick or die after having consumed the wrong type of mushrooms [3].

Parasites and Scavengers:

Mushrooms are parasitic saprophyte scavengers. Mushrooms obtain their nutrition from metabolizing energy from dead or living plants and trees. As parasites, mushrooms feed off living plants and trees, behaving like vampire organisms, by deriving nutrients at the host plant or tree's expense. As scavengers, mushrooms feed off dead rotting plants and trees, which is their staple diet in woodland areas. Mushrooms play an important role in the breakdown, cleaning, and renewal of the forests.


Mushrooms, unlike plants that produce visible seeds, reproduce through budding and scattering microscopic spores. It can be argued that spores are the mushroom's seeds, just as man's sperm is his seed, but microscopic spores are not plant-like visible seeds. YEHOVAH God allows man to eat every green herb that yields [VISIBLE] seed and every tree whose fruit yields [VISIBLE] seed (Genesis 1:29). When that command was given to Adam and Eve, they didn't have microscopes to judge as to whether or not spores should be considered seeds. Adam and Eve could not have considered mushrooms as seed-bearing plants.

Mushrooms are neither seed-bearing green herbs, nor fruit-bearing trees; they are spore-budding fungi.

Notice Amos 4:9 and Haggai 2:17:

"I blasted [struck] you with blight and mildew..."

"'I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,' says the LORD."

Blight and mildew, like mushrooms, are fungi. When the nation of Israel rebelled against YEHOVAH God, He cursed their crops with blight and mildew fungi. Blight and mildew are fungi plant diseases. Fungi are referred to as a curse in Scripture, not a blessing.

Some Scripture scholars believe that the manna that YEHOVAH God fed the Hebrews in the desert, who fled Egypt in the Exodus, was a form of edible fungi. What exact type of food manna was is uncertain. Believers should not conclude that manna was edible fungi. Manna is described to be a food, like coriander seed, so it is more likely YEHOVAH God fed the Hebrews a type of seed while they were wandering in the desert for 40-years (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7). Mushrooms are not mentioned as food, nor are they mentioned at all, throughout Scripture.

Mushrooms Are Not Vegetables!

When dining out, and following a mushroom-free diet, it is important to note that if you order vegetable meals you may be served with mushrooms included with your vegetables. Restaurants will often include mushrooms in dishes such as vegetable omelets, vegetable fried rice, vegetable salads, etc. Also, many sauces included with restaurant meals are laced with mushrooms. To ensure you are not served with a mushroom fungi-tainted meal, be sure to make it clear when ordering from a restaurant menu that you do not want mushrooms served with your veggies.

Why Are "'Edible" Mushrooms Unclean?

"Edible" mushrooms may not be initially as harmful as poisonous toxic mushrooms are, but their long term health effects on the human body are unknown. One can eat pork products, or shellfish, and not suffer immediate health consequences, but government and scientific studies have shown that eating these Scripturally unclean organisms is harmful to a person's long term health.

Other Fungi Eaten

Inuit and Japanese people are known to eat various forms of "rock tripe," which are ferns, lichens, molds, and mosses. These fungi have very little nutritional value and can be very dangerous to eat.


Can yeast be lawfully consumed?

Consuming live active yeast would be unlawful, as this would be consuming fungi directly. It is lawful to consume products that are derived from yeast, as this is not consuming the yeast fungi, but the byproduct of yeast: either bread, a baked good, or a fermented alcohol product.

Yeast is an interesting, microscopic fungi organism. Yeast is an essential component in the making of bread, vinegar, and fermented alcohol drinks: beer and wine. Active yeast, when used in the baking process to leaven bread and baked goods, becomes inactive, dies, and dissolves.

Beer and wine are yeast-fermented alcohol products. Stronger spirits such as vodka are distilled alcohol products that do not use the yeast fermenting process to become alcohol. Brewer's yeast is used to ferment alcohol. Brewer's yeast, after fermenting alcohol for beer and wine, is strained from the finished alcohol product, discarded, and is not consumed.

Yeast shares a function that honeybees do; both yeast and honeybees are unclean creatures that produce clean edible products for man to consume. Yeast leavens bread, other baked goods, and brews alcohol for beer and wine; bees make honey.

Consuming residual inactive yeast is not unlawful. People often inhale airborne yeast spores. Inhaled yeast can sometimes lead to a fungal infection if a person has a weakened immune system [4]. Bacteria is naturally present and consumed in many of the foods that we eat. Nutritionists have been studying good and bad bacteria for the human body for the past few decades. As it pertains to the human diet, the Scriptures do not command us to examine microscopic organisms. Mushrooms are visible growing fungi, not undetectable microscopic fungi, like yeast.

Consuming yeast-leavened bread, a yeast-leavened baked good, or a yeast-fermented alcohol product is the same as consuming honeybee made honey. Yeast-leavened bread, baked goods, and fermented alcoholic beer and wine products are good to consume, as honey is good to eat (Proverbs 24:13).


Jewish rabbinical authority is NOT the final authority on determining whether or not mushrooms and other fungi (truffles) may be eaten. Rabbinical authorities rejected the Messiah. They should not be considered infallible on the topic of kosher certification or determining clean and unclean creatures.

Rabbinical kosher-certifying authorities err in classifying "edible" mushrooms and other fungi (truffles) in the following two ways:

1). They classify "edible" mushrooms (and truffles) as clean fungi. YEHOVAH God, through the Scriptures, did not give man permission to consume fungi.

2). They disregard the fact that "edible" mushrooms (and truffles) are not green vegetation herbs. Mushrooms are growing, scavenger, seedless, spore-budding fungi organisms that feed off dead or living plants and trees.

The mushroom is a fungus and it is never green, nor does it bear seeds. Here is something applicable from the book, How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier (Page 34):

"...one should avoid whenever possible turning to mushrooms for emergency food. Mushrooms have very little general food value. If you are not already an expert, the incurred risks will be far out of proportion to the possible gain. No single practical test is recognized, unfortunately, by which all poisonous mushrooms can be detected."

As author Harold Hemeway points out: "Mushrooms, and any other fungi for that matter, obtain their food, not by photosynthesis, but from other organic material, like manure and dead leaves and carcasses. In his article Dietary Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens Bruce N. Ames states that 'Most hydrazines that have been tested are carcinogens and mutagens, and large amounts of carcinogenic hydrazines are present in edible mushrooms.'" (Are the Food Laws Scientific?, pages 3 & 4).

As we have already noted, the plant life given to man as food by YEHOVAH God was (1) green and (2) seed bearing. In order to appreciate the significance of these two factors we need to look briefly at the biology of plants -- and the way they live and reproduce.

Plants are green because their leaves contain chlorophyll. During the day-time the sun's rays pass through the leaf. At the same time carbon dioxide is absorbed into the leaf, and water is absorbed into the plant via its roots. The chlorophyll converts the sunlight into energy, which the plant uses to change the water and carbon dioxide to carbohydrates (i.e., sugar and starches). This process is known as photosynthesis.

Writes Keith Hunt:

"Flowers are essential to the production of seeds. Some flowers are bright and colorful, and are grown to decorate our homes and gardens. Other plants have flowers that are so small and insignificant, that we rarely notice them. Each flower contains stamens, and ovaries. At the end of each stamen is an anther which contains pollen. In order for a seed to be produced, it is necessary for the ovary to be fertilized by the pollen. In plants, as in animals, in order to produce, there must be a union of male and female" (Vegetation Laws, p. 4).

Continues Hunt --

"When we look closely at the biology of fungi, we discover two remarkable facts.

"Firstly, for all their brilliant colors, fungi do not contain chlorophyll. They do not obtain the carbohydrates they need from the air through photosynthesis. Fungi, such as mushrooms, must obtain their carbonaceous food from other organic material. Hence the reason why we find them growing on compost heaps and decaying vegetable and animal material. To this extent they are the scavengers of the plant world.

"Secondly, fungi, including mushrooms, are asexual. There is no need for male to fertilize female in order to produce. The mushroom spawn spreads out in the soli, devouring all the food it can find. When it has exhausted its food supply, it throws up the mushroom with which we are familiar. Under the cap of the mushroom are the gills. The cells on the outside layer of the gills become enlarged, and form sacs. These sacs develop minute stalks, on which the spores are formed. These spores are then released into the wind and carried away. They fall onto the ground and grow into a spawn, and the cycle of the mushroom continues" (ibid., pages 4-5).

In conclusion, then, we have seen that when YEHOVAH God gave man instructions on what vegetable matter he should eat, He stipulated that it must be GREEN (i.e., rely on photosynthesis), and be seed bearing (i.e., rely on fertilization of female by male). As fungi, which includes mushrooms, DO NOT perform either function, they cannot be included in the diet that YEHOVAH God gave us.


[1] "How many edible/poisonous mushrooms are there?" Mushroom, the Journal of Wild Mushrooming, < http://www.mushroomtbejournal.com/greatlakesdata/TopTen/Quest19.btml >.

[2] "Food poisoning/Mushroom poisoning," American Academy of Family Physicians, 04/2014, < http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning/mushroom-poisoning.html >.

[3] Walther, Jonathan, God's Food Laws in Today's World, December 29, 2003, < http://loveandtruth.net/food-laws.html >.

[4] "Fungal Infections Also called: Mycoses," MedlinePlus, January 15, 2016, < https://www.nlmmih.gov/medlineplus/fungalinfections.html >.


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