I’d like to share a story with you. I’ve long been fascinated with medicinal mushrooms, but it was only in more recent years that I decided to go into business to provide them for others.
Let’s start a mushroom farm!
My first inclination was to grow the mushrooms myself. This would mean that beside the steep learning curve, I would also need to invest in space and equipment to do so.
But I didn’t have the financial resources to start my own mushroom farm. Sadly, there was no rich Uncle on standby with wads of cash, ready and willing to bankroll my endeavour.
But I really wanted to start. I had a fire on my feet propelling me to take action, to start this business in any way possible (without cutting corners or sacrificing on quality of course) so I had to consider another option.
Option one: work with local growers
What a great idea! I thought to myself. Australia is renowned for the quality of the produce it provides. I’ll go into partnership with a local grower - they can provide me with the best quality mushrooms and I can focus on finding customers and connecting them to the products.
But there was a problem, a huge one. The species considered to be medicinal are Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Cordyceps, to name the main movers and shakers. Most of these species are forbidden to be grown in Australia under our biosecurity laws. You read that right. It’s simply forbidden to grow them here.
So how do Aussie retailers sell, for example; “Australian Lion’s Mane”? That’s a very good question. One of two things are happening here; either they are sourcing Lion’s Mane from overseas (so it’s not Australian at all) or it’s simply not Lion’s Mane.
Lion’s Mane is specifically the species of fungi known as Hericium erinaceus. It does not grow naturally in Australia. There is a related species called Hericium coralloides known commonly as the Coral Tooth Fungus. This is what many Australian mushroom growers are calling; “Australian Lion’s Mane” when in truth it's not.
I’m sure that Hericium coralloides has some health benefits. The problem is that they simply haven’t been studied. When you hear about studies done with Lion’s Mane, it is specifically done with Hericium erinaceus. AKA: Lion’s Mane - not Coral Tooth Fungus.
And a species like Chaga, which grows in cold climates on birch trees, won't flourish in the Australian climate, even if it could legally be grown here.
Option two: find a reputable grower overseas
An interesting opportunity presented itself to me. Whilst its either illegal or simply not possible to grow many medicinal mushroom species in Australia, it is perfectly legal to import them as dried powders.
So I set about to find just who were the best mushroom growers in the world? Who knows and cares about beta glucan content, dual extraction methods, organic farming practices and the like?
Even though I may not be able to grow these mushrooms myself, it didn’t mean I couldn’t educate myself about the most effective way for them to be grown and consumed for maximum health benefits.
At the end of the day, I would be taking these supplements too and I’m not about to put something in my body that hasn’t been produced to the very highest standard.
I knew that the environment that the mushrooms were grown in had to be pristine, mushrooms have the ability to absorb pretty much everything in their environment, and for that reason too, I wanted any grower I worked with to have organic certification. There simply couldn’t be pesticides or chemicals used in the growing process, otherwise they would end up in the final product too.
So I went back to the source so to speak, I started looking at where medicinal mushrooms have grown for centuries in their native environment, and which cultures have been using them all throughout that time.
And I have to say the answer surprised me. It REALLY surprised me.
Before I reveal just where I found the mushroom growers I work with, take a look at the following picture. This region is where the mushrooms I source are grown. To get to this farm, you have to travel 90 minutes along a dirt road from the nearest town. It’s pristine, it’s lost in time and it's absolutely stunning.
It turns out that no less than 80% of the world’s medicinal mushrooms are grown in drumroll please… China.
China? Are you kidding me? I have to admit to my ignorance when I heard about this. I had equated China with one of heavy industry, and by extension; heavy pollution.
And although I know that China is a huge country, I didn’t realise that it also has pristine regions. Regions untouched by time where farmers are cultivating the land like they have for centuries. And speaking of centuries; the Chinese culture has been using medicinal mushrooms for millenia. Reishi was described as “the elixir of immortality” in Chinese scrolls almost 4,000 years ago.
So now that my ignorant self had received the wake up call; that the Chinese can and do, grow the world’s best medicinal mushrooms. Over thousands of years they’ve learnt how to extract the maximum benefit from them too.
All that remained was to find a grower I could trust, preferably one that had third party certification and provided third party lab results. And after a long period of searching I found one.
My grower has the following internationally recognised certifications:
They are: USDA certified organic, EU certified organic and Japan certified organic.
They are also HACCP certified. What is HACCP?
“Hazard analysis and critical control points, or HACCP, is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measures to reduce these risks to a safe level.”- source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazard_analysis_and_critical_control_points
So finally I achieved what I set out to do. I found out where the best medicinal mushrooms were grown and in my search, I found a grower that could provide proof that they were supplying mushrooms of the very highest standard.
I’m happy to say that the mushroom extracts I source are pure concentrated mushroom powders that are made from the fruiting body of organically certified mushrooms.
Every batch of mushrooms used to make the mushroom powders are ensured to have a guaranteed level of beta-glucans— which is four times more than average powders on the market.
Why are beta glucans important? This is from PubMed Central:
"One of the special components found from mushrooms is beta-glucan, which is predominantly composed in the fungal cell wall and is mostly composed of beta-D-glucose. In many researches, beta-glucan effectively stimulates the host immune response to defend against bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections" - (Source: PubMed - The Effect of Mushroom Beta-Glucans from Solid Culture of Ganoderma lucidum on Inhibition of the Primary Tumor Metastasis)
These powders are exactly what they say they are: the best quality organic powders that are rich in bioactive compounds, and are supported by independent research and trusted certifications.
My mission is to help Aussies make medicinal mushrooms a part of their daily routine. The health benefits of taking them are wide-ranging and backed up by scientific evidence. It's time for us to catch on to what some other cultures have known for centuries; that mushrooms can improve our quality of life in so many different ways.