Consuming organic mushrooms can be as easy as taking a spring morel hike, returning home and preparing the mushrooms for stuffing and baking.
The reality of the commercial organic mushroom market remains bit more complex. Put simply, the average American consumer knows very little about the organic mushrooms he purchases.
Types of Mushrooms
Commercial mushroom farmers often adopt some general rules of thumb for organization purposes.
Among the first rules farmers remember is the fact that insects and soil organisms enjoy consuming mushrooms as much as humans enjoy consuming mushrooms.
Consequently, commercial mushroom farming typically employs both chemical fertilizers and pesticides during the grow season.
Like other agriculture sectors such as fruits and vegetables, the organic mushroom sector represents a very small portion of total domestic mushroom production.
Recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), estimates the 2010/2011domestic organic mushroom crop at 3.6% of the total mushroom crop.
The bar chart displaying organic mushroom production numbers for the past decade adds a it of complexity to the organic mushroom industry.
When initially written, the National Organic Program (NOP) did not provide specific guidance for organic mushroom farming, although formal standards are under consideration.
Organic mushrooms currently meet NOP certification under the crop standards for compost and manure, explaining the certified bars in the chart that appear for each year.
Although not explicitly spelled out in the data set methodology, the uncertified organic mushrooms sales figures probably refer to small organic growers exempt from NOP formal standards.
Many of these small sellers deal with a handful of local restaurants and/or shops to fill a niche demand. And while small, NOP exempt mushroom farmers assume an obligation to follow NOP standards, their activities remain unregulated.
The gap between the uncertified and certified organic mushrooms sold over the past decade continues to close over time.
Anecdotal evidence of fraud in the organic mushroom market may or may not be representative of past organic mushroom marketing trends. Current trends showing increased percentages of the total organic mushroom market meeting certification standards will probably help increase consumer confidence of the validity of the organic mushroom label.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service Mushroom Industry Report (94003) August 31, 2011
© 2012 Patricia A. Michaels. All Rights Reserved.