Featured in American Mushroom News
I’m thrilled to once again be featured in one of the mushroom industry’s premier publications, the American Mushroom Institute’s Mushroom News. The July issue covering exotic mushroom varieties is the second opportunity I’ve had to discuss bottle cultivation systems. Reading about the last round of enoki-related recalls in the United States led me to rewrite an earlier article I wrote about the Japanese enoki-based condiment nametake for the 2023 Spring issue of the Japanese Exotic Mushroom Journal.
I love pitching enoki because it’s such a high-value product and useful way to recycle agricultural waste flows into nutritious mushrooms and useful agricultural materials such as soil conditioners and animal feeds. While the typical button mushrooms, either white or brown, that you see in supermarket aisles still dominate the market, the exotic market is seeing red-hot growth of 30% a year and little sign of tapering off. The American Mushroom Institute has done a very good job at reaching out to exotic mushroom farmers in recent years, and I think the AMI represents the changing mindset of the industry.
Whereas I think, a lot of the big players in the mushroom industry who grow Agaricus varieties (button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and portabellas are all Agaricus varieties), used to have a view that exotic mushrooms were just a niche for random folks growing a small quantity of shiitake for restaurant use and gourmet markets, more are now coming around to the wide range of taste, textures, and aromas offered by a number of commercially cultivated exotic mushroom species. More critically, I think the wider industry has realized that the health and culinary benefits of many exotic mushroom species and the push for more sustainable agricultural practices (including reduced meat consumption), represent a huge new market.
A lot of big mushroom farms in Western countries, outside the biggest Agaricus farmers, are still behind the times too, compared to where the Japanese are, and where South Korea and China have built their industries up to. The Japanese Exotic Mushroom Journal was, in fact, founded based on the concern that local farmers of all scales in the West risked being outflanked by imports and regional expansions by various big mushroom growers from East Asia. The purpose of our journal is to provide good, vetted information and a network to help support small and mid-sized growers especially. We also want to get good-detailed descriptions of how the Japanese system works out there to help large producers make informed investment decisions as well.
I think a diverse market with a strong local base is simply the most sustainable system. Apart from strengthening regional foodways, diverse production also spreads the economic benefits and helps recycle various agricultural waste flows more efficiently. I look forward to future collaborations with the American Mushroom Institute, and hope to continue to expand our reach here at the Japanese Exotic Mushroom Journal.
Please check out the American Mushroom Institute - Mushroom News website for subscription information or be on the look out for your July issue to catch my article there.
See the Spring issue for the original article: Japanese Exotic Mushroom Journal (jemj.jp)