Where do mushrooms come from?
For most Canadian consumers, the answer is simply ‘my local supermarket or food store’. Before that, where does the grocer get the mushrooms? Again, the simple answer is that most of the mushrooms sold in food stores in Canada are grown on Canadian farms. Unlike most vegetables in the produce section, mushrooms come from Canadian farms every day of the year, even during the winter months.
Q1. What is a mushroom?
A mushroom is an edible fungus. There are thousands of species of fungi in the world, but only a few are edible. Be careful of wild mushrooms that may be poisonous.
Q2. What types of mushrooms are grown in Canada?
The most popular mushroom in Canada is the White Button [Agaricus bisporus], followed by Brown [Crimini] and Portabellas. Specialty mushrooms, such as Shiitake, Oyster, King Oyster, and Enoki are gaining in popularity. Specialty mushrooms are grown in bottles, on wood logs or containers filled with sawdust
Q3. Who grows mushrooms in Canada?
There are over 100 mushroom farms in Canada. 50% of the production is in Ontario, 35% in British Columbia, 10% on the Prairies and 5% in Quebec and the Maritimes. There are over 200 million pounds (91,000 tonnes) of mushrooms grown in Canada annually. Most are sold fresh, some are canned. Canada exports 80 million lb. (36,300 tonnes) of fresh mushrooms to the USA and imports 45 million lb. (20,600 tonnes) of canned or processed mushrooms, mostly from China. Per capita consumption of fresh mushrooms in Canada is approximately 3.5 lb. (1.6 kg.).
Q4. Are mushrooms grown year-round?
Absolutely! Fresh mushrooms are harvested every day of the year and delivered fresh to local stores, 24/7/365.
Q5. What are the specks of dirt on mushrooms in the store?
Those specks are peat moss from the growing beds. They are absolutely harmless. Simply wipe with a damp cloth or soft brush before preparation, cooking or serving.
Q6. How are mushrooms harvested and handled?
Mushrooms are harvested by hand. The harvesters treat the mushrooms tenderly to avoid bruises and scratches. The harvesters are trained in personal hygiene as part of a certified food safety program. Mushroom growers employ over 3,000 people with year-round jobs.
Q7. Are mushrooms safe to eat?
Canadian mushroom growers subscribe to an on-farm food safety program based on HACCP principles [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points]. Their safety records are audited by a qualified independent auditor and certified according to international standards. Be careful of wild mushrooms that may be poisonous.
Q8. Is it easy to grow mushrooms?
Not really! It is an art based on science. The science of mushroom growing is pretty well known. The art of mushroom growing is in managing variables such as weather, raw materials and biosecurity.
Q9. Do we import mushrooms?
Yes, a few specialty mushrooms. Most of the fresh mushrooms in Canadian stores are grown in Canada. In fact, Canada exports far more fresh mushrooms than are imported.
Q10. What is mushroom spawn?
Spawn is the seedstock of mushrooms. It is produced by specialized companies in sterile laboratories. The genetic mycelia are propagated on sterile grain and transported in refrigerated trucks. The spawn is added to the substrate after the substrate has been pasteurized.
Q11. What is the lifecycle of mushrooms?
From the time the spawn is added to the substrate, the first crop is harvested in 30 days. That is followed by one or two more harvests from the same growing beds, over the next two weeks. Then, the nutrients in the substrate are exhausted. So, each growing cycle may take from 7 to 12 weeks depending on the management program.
Q12. How do mushroom growers help other farmers?
Mushroom farms offer a valuable service to livestock and poultry farmers by transforming their agricultural by-products into a healthy food crop and a valuable soil conditioner, known as Spent Mushroom Substrate [SMS].
Q13. How do mushroom growers deal with odours?
Most of the odours associated with mushroom farms have been reduced or eliminated. Growers have remodeled their substrate wharfs and introduced forced-aeration to replace anaerobic bacteria [smelly] with aerobic bacteria [less odour]. In some cases, they have moved the substrate process indoors to capture and treat the exhausted air through scrubbers and biofilters. Some farms have moved the substrate process to specialized farms in remote areas.
Q14 . What’s new in mushroom growing?
Mushroom farmers in Canada have made substantial investments in new technology to increase productivity, improve quality and food safety. Most mushroom farms have re-modeled or built new packing and storage rooms, with refrigeration, vacuum-coolers, etc., completely separate from the growing rooms. Mushroom growers continue to invest in not only food-safety training and documentation, but also health and safety of the workers.
Q15. Are mushrooms good for you?
Mushrooms are low in fats and carbohydrates, have no cholesterol and are a good source of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, with no additives. Canadian mushroom growers are proud to provide a FRESH, SIMPLE and GOOD food.
Q16. Can I pick my own wild mushrooms?
Mushrooms Canada advises the public of the potential health risks associated with picking and eating wild mushrooms. Edible mushrooms may appear similar to poisonous mushrooms. Unless you are an expert at mushroom identification or are advised by an expert, our advice is to not consume wild mushrooms. If poisonous wild mushrooms are consumed, it may take several days for symptoms to develop; which may include but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. More severe poisonings may include sweating, convulsions, hallucinations, coma and even death. Mushrooms Canada takes no responsibility for the picking and consumption of wild mushrooms.
Canadian Mushroom Growers’ offer a wide selection of mushroom varieties to satisfy every taste, and farm grown mushrooms are always safe to eat.