The Magic of Mushrooms

Honey Mushroom, located in Malheur National Forest in Oregon. Courtesy:

September is National Mushroom Month. So for all you mushroom fans out there, it’s time to let your friendly fungi flag fly! Mushrooms are a unique food because they are actually fungi, and are not a vegetable. While there are an astonishing 14,000 different known mushroom species, only 300 species are edible for humans, and only about 10 species are grown commercially. Mushrooms have a fascinating lifecycle and are one of the most sustainably-produced food sources on our planet Earth. They start as fungal spores that grow into an intricate root network (mycelium), sourcing nutrients from the soil.  When mycelium is mature, it produces a mushroom! “Fruit of the loam!” Most commercially produced mushrooms are grown indoors, requiring very little light, water and energy! 

Fun Fact: The largest known mushroom is the Honey Mushroom, nicknamed Humongous Fungus, located in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. It spans 3.5 miles and is thought to be at least 2,400 years old! 

Many mycologists (mushroom experts) assert that mushrooms have sophisticated communication systems that we still do not understand; they are sentient, meaning they can perceive or feel things. With patterns resembling the Internet, mycelium networks enable individual trees to communicate across the forest to other trees about potential danger from pests and fires.  Magic indeed! 

Mushrooms boast numerous health benefits—they are the only non-animal food that supplies us with dietary Vitamin D. They have also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, acting as antibacterial, immune system enhancers, and cholesterol lowering agents. They’re also a great low-calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.  

Extra Fun Fact: Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain two compounds that stimulate brain cell growth! 

But we love mushrooms for more than their health benefits–they also taste amazing! Mushrooms are versatile and equally at home in a salad, a sauté, a soup, or a delicious gravy. They are also the vegan’s best friend, as they offer a meaty texture and add a savory, umami taste to any dish.  

We’ll have a variety of mushrooms available this season – both the familiar staple ‘shrooms such as Crimini, Shiitake, Portabella and specialty Maitake, Trumpet, Oyster and more. Don’t sleep on dried options for Porcini, Reishi and Woodear!  Our mushroom program features a diverse mix of producers such as Watsonville, CA based Monterey Mushrooms and premiere Canadian grower Champs Mushrooms.  Talk to your Account Manager about expanding your mushroom set and planning ahead for your mushroom needs in the coming months! 


Weather Watch

Growers in Reedley, California (near Fresno) are seeing quality issues on peaches and nectarines as result of the recent rain from Hurricane Hilary; supply is suddenly limited. In order to save the fruit and minimize loss, some growers are treating the fruit post-harvest and selling as non-organic. It is an unprecedented situation as the region has not seen rain this time of year in decades, a sad and abrupt end to our late-season stonefruit supply!  

Further south in the Central Valley near Bakersfield, California, Anthony Vineyards, and other grape producers reported the storm damaged red, green and black grapes.. Picking and packing require more discrimination and thus prices are increasing. Supply is expected to be tighter for the rest of the season. Benzler Farms also got hit, but will continue to supply red and green seedless in totes. 

Eco Farm’s Reed avocado crop was lost due to high winds from  the storm combined with our harsh wet winter followed by hotter than normal weather earlier this summer. No “green skins” expected this Fall.  

As the Northwest blueberry season winds down, harvest yields are lower than normal due to severe heat, thunderstorms and rain in the growing regions of Washington. 

The Rambutan crop from Central America has been delayed to hurricanes and storms. Next season’s Chilean pear crop has also been hampered by an extreme wet winter in South America.  


New & Exciting!

Asian Pear: The season is off to a delicious start with Chojuru, Hosui and Shinseki varieties available now. 

California-Grown Keitt Mango: The Keitt is left on the tree longer than other varieties, producing very sweet fruit. The fiber-free flesh offers a creamy texture with honey-sweet flavor and hints of lemon. The skin remains fully green when ripe; the golden flesh is soft to the touch. 

Grape: Specialty grape season brings us unique varieties such as the Hamburg Muscat from Marian Farms and the Concord (right) from Heinke Family Farm. Hamburg Muscat Grapes are low in acid, with dark skin, sweet taste and a perfume muscat aroma. The Heinke Farm’s Concords are classic with tart skin, but their deep, sweet flavor is something that cannot be missed!  Think grape jelly with a pop!  

Fun Fact: One of the few fruits native to North America, these amazing grapes are named after their place of origin, Concord, Massachusetts. 

The cult favorite, the famous Bronx seedless grape has started from Lagier Ranches. Rare, Expensive. Priceless.  

Gravenstein Apple: Affectionately known as “Gravs” by apple enthusiasts. This early season heirloom variety is known for its sweet tart flavor. Delicious and versatile, Gravs are a great cooking apple particularly apple sauce and apple pie! Apple juice and cider are traditional ways to enjoy this apple; they add flavor, depth and complexity to many juice blends. 

Fun fact: Gravensteins were cherished for homesteads and backyards as they do not ripen all at the same time; they could be harvested as a family needed for months. They fell out of favor in commercial production for the same reason, requiring multiple picks to get all the fruit off the trees. That is how they came to be heirlooms! 

Dry-Farmed Early Girl Saladette Tomato (left): Dry-farmed tomatoes are given little to no water, and as a result are smaller than typical tomatoes, with lower yield. But the flavor is concentrated and rich, with a dense texture, and profound sweet acid balance, making it unlike any other tomato out there. Sea Level Farm is famous for the high-quality taste of their dry-farmed tomatoes. 

Jujube: Coming soon! We have fresh and dried jujubes from Rock Front Ranch coming on mid-September.  This ancient superfruit, AKA Red Date or Chinese Date, is uniquely sweet, tart and a nutrition powerhouse! 

Kiwi Berry: Coming soon! Green kiwi’s smaller more adorable cousin! Grape-size berries with smooth skin and sweeter flavor than kiwi. The skin does not need to be peeled. 


Cucumber: Slicing and English cucumber are in good supply; promotable pricing! 

Pear: California-Grown Bartletts are in good supply and perfect for late summer promotions. Signature sweet pear flavor and aroma makes this classic pear a crowd pleaser. Juicy and delicious! 

Pluot: Readily available in all sizes and many varieties. From the green skinned super sweet Emerald Beaut (right) to the red skinned Flavor Grenade with pineapple essence, we have you covered. CutEmerald Beaut Plum up a few varieties to show the beautiful color and encourage sampling! 

Raspberry: Plenty available with sharp pricing. Great time to push while other berries are more limited. 

Snow Leopard Melon (below): These melons are the cat’s meow! Visually striking with green spots and stripes, juicy delicious white flesh. From beloved grower, Rundle Family Farms—known for their great tasting summer melons! 

Tomato: Steady supply of one and two-layer tomatoes from Veliz Organic Family Farm, and as well as aggressive pricing on TOVs. Mixed heirloom tomatoes are promotable with strong supply. 



Artichoke: Remains limited and high priced 

Black Plum 

Blackberry: Suddenly limited as some growers have ended early. Supply is expected to improve in 2-3 weeks. 


Broccoli: Expected to be limited due to quality until mid-September.  

Bunched Spinach 

Corn: Dwelley is expected to move into a 2-week gap seasonal gap. 

Orange/Yellow Bell Pepper 

Pea: Still very limited 

Purple Top Turnip 


Yellow Peach/Yellow and White Nectarine: Very limited due to quality issues as a result of Hurricane Hilary. Nearing the end of stone fruit season!  



Done for the Season 

Black Watermelon 


Green Quips Grape 


Merchandising Corner 


Mushroom Merchandising 

Mushrooms are a having a huge moment! We are delighted that mushrooms are increasingly important to the success of any produce department, not to mention the health of people and planet! Here are a few tips to build enticing displays and get in on the ‘shroom boom!’ 

  • Handle with Care. Mushrooms are sensitive to their surroundings, and if not handled properly, will lose shelf life. Store them at a cool 34 degrees, avoid stacking them too high, and keep away from your department’s spray misters. 
  • Looks Matter. Visual appearance is the key to selling mushrooms. They should be rotated every few days to ensure that the freshest, most appealing product is at the front of the shelf to draw customers in. If you have the space, put them in a multi-deck case in a high-traffic area. 
  • Focus on the Staples. Give shelf priority to familiar and popular mushroom staples such as Crimini, White, Portabella and Shiitake, while giving a small amount of space to new or specialty mushroom varieties. Customers are looking for their favorites, but still want to be delighted by something new. 
  • Retail Signage. Post signs with a few recommended uses and cooking tips to inspire your shoppers. It’s also helpful to talk up the health benefits of mushrooms – whether it’s keto, plant-based, or vegan, mushrooms fit into almost any diet, and are a wonderful meat substitute. This may seem obvious, but cannot be overstated. 
  • Cross Merchandise. Mushrooms are an incredibly versatile food, equally at home in a soup, sauté, or on a grill. If you have a meat department, consider promoting sliced mushrooms alongside the meat. Also consider placing a grilling recipe near the portobellos, or a few handy soup staples near the Shiitakes, such as soup stock, garlic, celery, or onions. 


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