US: A look into Pennsylvania's 'booming' mushroom industry

The ancient Greeks used to think that the mushrooms were sent from Zeus by his lightning, according to James Bolus. "Because they would show up after the rain," said the chef and owner of Backwoods Bar and Kitchen in Dallas.

Pennsylvania is the biggest producer of mushrooms in the United States, followed by California. Foragers, like James, and foraging clubs find the fungus in the wild, while small farms are growing unique mushrooms to meet demand.

James is my cousin — our dads were brothers. He's the first person I knew to go foraging. In August, we met in the woods in Luzerne County. James had with him a packet of information about wild mushrooms and the National Audubon Society's Field Guide to mushrooms in North America.

James always brings a field guide with him to forage and does not rely on apps or an internet search. Mushrooms are not a plant or animal, he said. They have their own kingdom. "There are 10 subphyla, 35 classes, 12 subclasses, and 129 orders," James said. "Of the estimated 3.8 million fungi species, only 148,000 have been described."


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