How do I Sell Wild Mushrooms?
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Wild mushrooms are considered a gourmet treat by many home and professional cooks. Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, have no fat or cholesterol and wild varieties grow without chemicals. Local foragers have an advantage in the business of selling wild mushrooms because mushrooms have a short shelf-life and don't travel well over long distances. Local purveyors can provide their customers with fresh, high-quality mushrooms.
Call your local health department and find out if your state requires wild mushroom sellers to have a license. In Minnesota, for example, a wild mushroom forager and seller must take a state-approved class in wild mushroom identification and obtain a license.
Take a class. Even if your state doesn't require you to take a class in wild mushroom identification, you might want to take one anyway. There are over 250 species of wild mushrooms that can cause illness or death; knowing the difference will assure your customers that you are selling safe mushrooms.
Wrap each mushroom you gather in newspaper or tissue paper to avoid cross-contamination between safe and unsafe species, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says.
Identify each mushroom you collect and only offer those mushrooms whose species of which you are certain for sale. "When in doubt, throw it out," the MDH says.
Box your mushrooms up according to species. Stock up on paper bags, because mushrooms should be sold in paper, not plastic, to add to their shelf-life.
Grow wild mushrooms. It almost seems counter-intuitive, but you can grow wild varieties in boxes at your own home. According to Profitable Plants, oyster mushrooms produce heavy yields--up to one pound of mushrooms for each pound of straw used to grow them and they have six growing cycles per year. "A 200-square-foot growing area, for example, can produce 6,000 pounds of mushrooms each year," the site reports.
Rent a space at your local farmers' market. Many local gourmands search farmers' markets for wild and cultivated mushrooms.
Offer your mushrooms to local restaurants and stores. As long as you have met all the requirements in your state for licensing (if any), you can approach local restaurants and grocery stores and ask them to purchase your mushrooms. Most will want samples before they buy, so come prepared with samples and a price list.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.