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Union Talks with Mushroom Supplier, Shiitake Happens

November 17, 2014

Today we’re talking to Matt Parker of Shiitake Happens. He talks to us about how he got started, sustainability and his favorite mushrooms.

 
~ Matt Parker started growing mushrooms back in 2004.
 
I was in marketing before I was in mushrooms. I was struggling to make a living and wanted to start a family. A friend suggested you could grow mushrooms everywhere. So, I taught myself mycology, the study of mushrooms and mushroom cultivation. I originally started the business in my backyard and since then we’ve had to move a few time to larger and larger locations. Now, we buy mushrooms from other farms.
 
We have a network of foragers. We have pickers that pick from Northern California and Washington. We’ve got people in Idaho sending us huckleberries. We have people all over, so when someone puts in an order, I can put out a call and see if anyone’s seen it.
 
~ What is special about your product?
 
Take our oysters, what we grow has been growing for like twenty years. So the quality is always the same.
 

I get so excited about mushrooms. I do my best not to freak out, but whenever a box comes in it’s a race to get it open.

 

~ How does Shiitake Happens work for sustainability?
 
In cultivation, we use products that are around us. All our oak is locally sourced from local ranches. Our delivery baskets are reusable. It’s the little things that make a difference. Then with the product, we can get mushrooms from South Africa, but South Africa is so far away that it doesn’t make sense. Instead of being the company that has everything, we’re the company that has the best. We don’t pick when mushrooms are young. It’s in our best interest to pick responsibly. The product is better. It’s no coincidence that if you pick responsibly, the product is better. It’s all connected.
 
~ What are your favorite mushrooms?
 
I get so excited about mushrooms. I do my best not to freak out, but whenever a box comes in it’s a race to get it open… and sometimes it’s not very good. Blue chanterelles, these mushrooms taste like toilet water. We will no longer be buying blue chanterelles.
I haven’t gotten sick of anything yet. Right now, my new favorite mushrooms are lion’s mane mushrooms. They’re a big, white puffball. Sautee them in some butter and garlic and it tastes like lobster. The shiitakes are also good. Bruce (Kalman) buys a lot of shiitake mushrooms from us.
 
~ How can the public find you?
 
We are referral based. We canceled our farmers market program because it didn’t make business sense for us anymore. But, I really love being a part of a community and I miss the farmers market community so much.
 
You can find Matt Parker’s blog by clicking here.
 
You can find Shiitake Happens on Facebook by clicking here.
 
You can find Shiitake Happens on Twitter by clicking here.
 
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Pic from the LA Times