What Large-Scale Shiitake Mushroom Growing Looks Like (Video)

shiitake mushroom cultivation photo
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I confess, I'm very excited about The Perennial Plate roadtrip finally getting underway. I've already posted an awesome video of urban farmers in New Orleans, and another of a dairy farm that let's its cows retire. Now we get to see what shiitake mushroom cultivation looks like on a large-scale. And it is quite a sight!

The Perennial Plate Episode 55: Mushroom Music from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

I've written before about my experiences growing shiitake mushrooms on hardwood logs, but I've never seen a commercial shiitake growing operation on quite this scale. Visiting Carole Anne and Curly, two hippies who have been growing shiitakes since the eighties in the forests of Arkansas, we learn a little bit about how
The Perennial Plate shows us how those shiitakes you buy in the supermarket are actually cultivated. (And, true to form, we get some quality music too.)

One thing I have always wondered about—and is partially adressed here—is what the carbon cycle of wood-grown shiitakes really looks like. Curly explains that most of the logs they purchase would have rotted anyway—presumably meaning they are either cast-offs from forestry or windfall from storms—and that they use spent mushroom logs for firewood afterwards. Whether that's the case with most shiitake operations would be an interesting point of discussion. (Felling trees to turn them into food doesn't sound like a viable proposition.)

Given the local food movement's focus on food miles, Carole Anne's spirited polemic about corporations dropping long-term family farm suppliers when they find a closer supplier should provide some interesting food for thought too.

This is online food video at its best.