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Mushroom kits

Salt-Loving Mushrooms

Though winter salt’s effects on the city are numerous — de-iced sidewalks, salt-splotched cars, canines sporting booties or cradled in the protective arms of owners — less immediately obvious is the impact on the natural environment, including the fungi underfoot. One byproduct of road salt may be the surprise appearance of autumn Agaricus bernardii, a relative of the white button mushroom found in supermarkets, long after all the snow and ice of the previous winter has melted.

Last October, I found several curious Agaricus specimens, with pinkish-beige, heavily cracked caps that were as large as my outspread hand, growing along an inner road at my college campus on Staten Island. As the Agaricus genus includes many poisonous species, I collected several samples over the course of the month to show senior members of the New York Mycological Society.

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From the forests to a multi-million dollar business

He started out by picking wild mushrooms in the forests of the Okanagan then he began selling his mushrooms directly to restaurants.

Now Gord Weighill’s Kelowna-based company has expanded into a multi-million dollar business.

Mikuni Wild Harvest sells organic produce and specialty food products annually to hundreds of the top restaurants across North America.

The company has benefited from increasing consumer demand for organic food across the continent.

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Fungi and Ants

Long before humans started farming, in fact long before humans even existed, the first farmers were ants. Some tropical ants collect leaves which they use to grow fungi in their underground nests. The ants cannot digest the leaves directly, and so they feed exclusively on the fungi that they farm. The leafcutter ants, or attine ants, include the genus Atta and they eat a significant amount of vegetation - typically 12 - 15% of all of the leaves produced in South American forests. They may have been eating fungi for up to 50 million years, and during that time they have co-evolved with their fungal partners.

Mushrooms Play a Role in Cancer Research

The statistics are startling. One in three women get cancer. Half of all men do. With odds like that, it is understandable why millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent every year in this country on cancer research.

And that research involves everything from the largest pharmaceutical firms to state of the art medical complexes and even one man in the Ozarks and his crop of mushrooms. His name is Tim Hite and he's lost both friends and family to the disease. For that reason, he's dedicated his life to looking into alternative forms of medicine.

Hite lives in Ozark, Missouri. But he spends most of his time in his greenhouse. That's where Hite grows 25 varieties of mushrooms. "Most of the mushrooms we're growing in here are drying. We're blending them into teas," says Hite.

Hite grows the precious fungus at an amazing rate. He is able to grow 2,000 pounds of mushrooms in a month. "What we're involved in is growing gourmet mushrooms. Oyster, European variety," Hite notes.

Island's a dream for mushroom hunters

Erin Fletcher The Star

The next time you got out for a walk in the woods, look down. You may be stepping on a great meal.

Vancouver Island is home to more than 2,000 mushroom species and many of the more common ones are delicious sauteed in butter and garlic.

But when it comes to mushroom hunting, the challenge is not in the hunt but in knowing which ones are edible and which ones will give your intestines a terrible turn.

Last week a group of eager mushroom hunters gathered at Wildwood, a Land Conservancy forest in Yellowpoint, to learn how to identify and cook the delicate fungus we are all so fond of. Rob Countess, owner of Vancouver Island Nature Exploration, an eco-tourism company based out of Port Hardy, hosted the one-day workshop.

Countess, a biologist, did his masters thesis on Vancouver Island mushrooms. He said the majority of Vancouver Island species have not yet been catalogued, studied or classified according to edibility.

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