“Mushrooms were the roses in the garden of that unseen world”

September is National Mushroom Month,established on November 28, 1990 with the Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1990. But it did not become effective until January 8, 1993 to give the Council time to establish rules. The Council collects information on mushrooms import and production in the US, Puerto Rico, and D.C. totaling over 500,000 pounds annually.

Mushrooms were revered worldwide. Ancient Egyptians believed they bestowed immortality and were decreed food for royalty. Commoners were prohibited from touching them. Russia, China, Greece, Mexico, and Latin American civilizations had mushroom rituals and they were believed to produce super-human strength, find lost objects, and lead the soul to the gods.

King Louis XIV is believed to be the first modern European mushroom cultivator. They were grown in special caves near Paris. The English found it an easy crop to grow and experimented. However, when they tried to bring mushroom cultivation to the United States, they failed as the spawn deteriorated during travel. So, the United States began growing its own. In 1903, Louis F. Lambert, a French mycologist in St. Paul, Minnesota and his company the American Spawn Company produced the first “pure culture virgin spawn.” In 1930, the Census Bureau found 516 mushroom growers, 350 of which were in Chester County, Pennsylvania. By 2012-3, the National Agricultural Statistic Service found that the number had decreased to 298. There are over 38,000 varieties of mushrooms including over 3,000 in North America.

Kennett, PA is the self-proclaimed Mushroom Capitol of the World, which produces around 65 percent of the nation’s mushrooms. It is also where the annual Mushroom Festival is held during the second weekend of September in Kennett Square. The festival began as informal annual dinners in the early 1980s and when Mushroom Month became official, the governor of Pennsylvania formalized the Mushroom Festival.

The Mushroom Council’s website provides information on mushroom varieties and recopies. Mushrooms have no fat or cholesterol, low sodium, calories, and carbohydrates, but are high in antioxidants, vitamin B, and vitamin D – the only produce to produce vitamin D naturally – which was only discovered recently.

Here are some of the mushrooms in the area. A local mushroom farm grows shiitake and oyster mushrooms (pictured).

My family’s shiitake mushrooms

Here are some of the mushrooms I’ve seen recently. I would love it if any mycologists could tell me what some of them are! I’m assuming the white ones in various sizes are the same species at various stages.

September is also National Honey Month, initiated by the National Honey Board which collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1989. They chose September to coincide with the end of the honey collection season in the United States. There are 20,000 bee species, 4,000 native to the United States. One worker bee produces 1.5 teaspoon of honey in a lifetime and it takes around 22,700 bees to fill a honey jar. Americans consume about 1.3 pounds of honey per person annually.

In 2012 archaeologists discovered “the world’s oldest bee” in a ceramic jar in the country of Georgia, estimated to be 5,500 years old. An 8,000 year-old cave painting in Spain depicts honey harvesting and it has been used as medicine and food worldwide.

Despite Utah’s state emblem featuring a beehive and its nickname being “The Beehive State,” in 2016, it was not among the top 10 honey-producing states. They were: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, California, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Honey comes in a variety of colors and flavors, including blue and purple. States in the southeastern United States produce purple honey

Here are some pictures of local bees and honey.

Scientists have recently begun to experiment to see if mushrooms can save the declining honeybee population, because mushrooms can help the bees fight off the varroa mite infection.

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