North Tabor Farm Shiitake Mushrooms

North Tabor Farm in Chilmark raises shiitake mushrooms that are truly sustainable.

North Tabor grows their shiitake mushrooms on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting. This type of production is called “forest farming” and it has become a popular way of growing shiitake mushrooms in the United States. Forest farming is not a requirement for organic certification of shiitake mushrooms.

It can be darn confusing buying food in the grocery stores, especially when it comes to mushrooms. The majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust blocks. Shiitake farming is relatively new, where growing shiitake indoors under controlled conditions on “synthetic sawdust logs” (actually sawdust blocks) is used by approximately 80 percent of the large commercial growers who also consistently apply fungicides used to control pests. These producers are growing the mushrooms in semi-sterile growing rooms which pose a health threat to consumers and workers.

The log-grown shiitakes go primarily to chefs and pharmaceutical companies. Consumers, who are not aware of the difference, are currently paying the same amount for both types, even though the wholesale price of sawdust-grown shiitakes is about half that of log-grown shiitakes.

Therefore, shiitake grown outdoors, subject to the rigors of the natural wild environment, should have more concentrated medicinal properties than shiitake that are grown in the sterile environment, which also means a significant difference in nutrients from the log-grown, forest farmed shiitake.

If you can’t find a local grower who grows log-grown forest farmed, then look for the USDA’s organic logo on your shiitake mushrooms to determine if they are certified organic. Then check for information about forest farming on the packaging. If no information is provided, there is a good chance that your shiitake mushrooms were not forest farmed.

Ask your grocer or contact the product manufacturer to determine if your shiitake mushrooms were grown on hardwood logs in a natural forest environment.

You can find North Tabor Farm’s shiitake mushrooms, along with other produce fresh from the farm, at The West Tisbury Farmer’s Market.

Image Credit:  FreeWine

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