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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Q13. How do mushroom growers deal with
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
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 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.