Thursday, March 1, 2012

Messing with Mycelium

  Paul Stamets is the author of these three books and many others on the importance of mushrooms and their cultivation techniques.  I began to read Mycelium Running in Portland Maine during the mushroom season of last year and found two of his other books at Bull Moose.  Over the past three months wandering around the country, ive only obsessed over mushrooms more and more.

After arriving at Chino Valley Farm, i began to indulge in this obsession more and more and was asked by the farm owners Mike and Kate if i would be cultivating mushrooms when i returned east and i told them that i probably would attempt it.  They then made the amazingly generous offer to invite me back to their farm to cultivate mushrooms to sell at the local could i say no!  So im headed back west in a months to cultivate an array of mushrooms, from pink and blue oysters, King Oysters, Buttons, Maitake, Shiitake, Portabella, perhaps some Chicken Of The Woods and experiment with some Mycorrhizal Mushrooms
Hopefully finding out some new interesting techniques that will facilitate in their growth by experimenting with some mycelium growing substrates and alternative agar growing mediums, mimicking what supplies these hard to cultivate mushrooms with the proper nutrient they need to grow, From Chanterelles to Morels.  These books and all of the information i have sourced and studied have supplied me with the information necessary to build the structures, sterile laboratory, incubation rooms and growing rooms to hopefully cultivate a few varieties of mushrooms with great success.  Chino Valley has the space and now i have the time to bring these fruiting bodies to market.    
One thing that we have considered and thought through extensively is why you don't see as many mushrooms at local farmers markets and i think that the following answer might explain it:  Mushrooms have maintained a mysterious presence in the US and we have all since a young age been warned to not eat the mushrooms we see sprout in the yard after a nice fall rain. According to our parents they are ALL poisonous!  So this on its own, as Mycologist Greg Marley points out, has caused a strange upsurge of exploring mushrooms and mushroom hunting with a rebellious vigor in the States as of recently.  Many well informed hunters that live off of their finds by selling to restaurants and larger markets would rather there be a fear maintained among the majority so there is little competition in their extremely lucrative business.  The market is still new and fresh in the states and the largest slice of the population still believe button mushrooms are the only edible mushrooms.
Eastern European countries and Asian countries are and have always seen mushrooms and mushroom hunting as a friendly fun food and activity and maintain the most informative cultivating techniques to date.  American farmers know their vegetables and fruits and have passed that tradition down from farmer to farmer over the generations and have veered away form mushrooms not because of bad experiences but because of their lack of knowledge on the cultivation process.  Until recently, you would never enter a market and see anything but the Agaricus  (button) Genus of mushrooms, and now places like Whole Foods and New Frontiers are stocked with wildly cultivated mushrooms from Oyster to Porcini and also carry wildly foraged uncultivated mushrooms like Chanterelles.  The business is new and has entered into the larger markets and will soon be seen more and more at the farmer market level as more growers experiment with it.
While there are a million benefits to cultivating mushrooms, many of them pointed out in Paul Stamets book, Mycelium Running, one in particular is Mushrooms are one of the last sources of edible food that the devil itself, MONSANTO, will probably never mess with because of it's impossible co-operation in creating new monsanto-ish forms of mushrooms, All GMO and no viable seeds.  I would enjoy laughing at the scientists of Monsanto trying to create a mushroom with terminating spores!  Monsanto already has their dirt hands in the production of Cannabis and will ultimately control the food and 'fun' market, but never the FUN-GI market.  

So in all it will be a large learning curve to cultivate wild mushrooms in America, but i know it will have a thriving market at a local level and will be avoided by Monsanto, remaining a natural sources of protein, Vitamin D with its many other medicinal benefits.   

No comments: