CADILLAC - Michigan farmers always can use another crop to generate cash and a former NASA engineer wants to help them.
Donald Alger, who retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, spent almost 25 years experimenting in its laboratories, in his spare time, to develop a way to grow Shiitake mushrooms using pine trees from land he owns near his native Manton. The Michigan Department of Transportation took part of his property for U.S. 131 and now his dreams of operating a mushroom-growing business are gone.
"They refused to offer any compensation for our treated pine trees, so we took them to court," he said. "We will not be able to commercially produce the Shiitake mushrooms on our Manton farm because MDOT has destroyed the very center of the 40-acre track."
The trees were treated with his secret formula that would allow mushrooms to grow on pine, which naturally has anti-bodies against fungus.
Denzil Sturgiss grew up on a property in the rugged headwaters of the Shoalhaven River and until about six years ago had never heard of truffles.
He has still never tasted the great French delicacy used to flavour gourmet food, but hopes it will generously fund his retirement. Mr Sturgiss, 60, is one of the small band of NSW farmers who have taken a punt on producing one of the world's most elusive and expensive food items.
Australian truffle farming has been pioneered by Duncan Garvey's Perigord Truffles of Tasmania, which hopes to export the pungent black fungus from Australia to the world at premium prices when they are unavailable from their native Europe.
CEDAR RAPIDS - A federal food safety rule last year made it nearly impossible to buy wild morel mushrooms. Nothing prevented anyone from going into the woods finding their own and cooking them. But selling morels to someone else legally almost required a degree as a plant pathologist.
But wild mushroom fanciers can soon buy and sell at all sorts of outlets. That’s because Iowa lawmakers have created a morel inspector certification program to allow the sale safely.
Winifred’s chef David Meyer knows his wild mushroom from years of experience—both cooking and searching in the woods. But the change in federal food safety rules took morels off his menu last year. He couldn’t legally buy from someone who didn’t have an expert certification.
The next time you peruse the produce aisles in your local supermarket, you may want to take another look at those brown, woodsy portabellas or those small, white button-like mushrooms. If mycologists, perhaps more aptly termed mushroom aficionados, are right, these oft-forgotten, lowly fungi may actually be on the cutting edge of cancer treatment, retroviral therapies and combating biological warfare. Scientists like Paul Stamets have spent years researching the medical and environmental benefits and features of mycelia; the medical community and even the U.S. government have just started to realize that mushrooms are a treasure trove. Stamets, designated this year to be a Cornell lecturer, gave a talk yesterday afternoon on the role of the mushroom in the greater scheme of the biosphere.
Prof. Kathy Hodge, plant pathology, who specializes in mycology, described Stamets asa champion of mushrooms, a guru, even ? known for his innovative edge. Stamets has published six books, owns several patents and founded Fungi Perfecti, LLC twenty-five years ago. The company specializes in supplying mushroom-growth equipment, products to aid in the more efficient production of mushrooms and mushroom-based nutritional supplements.