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Make Sh-Room for RA’s Organic Farm

Do you know how to grow mushrooms? I had no clue. I knew that they were delicious, and that they had tremendous health benefits, but I really had no idea how to grow them. Like mushrooms, I am still in the dark for the most part, but I do know a little more after visiting RA’s Organic Farm in Moriches, NY. RA’s lot is built on a vacant duck farm, but it is slowly being transformed into a peaceful piece of property. Although they still house chickens in a large open pen, the 38 acre farm is also home to white swans, turtles, and even wild turkeys (we saw an egret during our last visit). RA’s Farm is the only organic mushroom farm in Long Island, NY, and it hopes to one day become the East Coast’s largest producer of USDA-certified organic shiitake mushrooms (an essential ingredient in Asian cuisines). We called ahead and met with Mr. Joe, who was kind, knowledgable, and patient. He quietly walked us all over the property, and helped us pick eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and of course, mushrooms!
(Click here for more information on why we should try to eat organic as often as possible) 

Which reminds me, do you know when mushrooms retire? When they get too mold of course. 

As per RA’s Farm: “RA’s Farm is the only mushroom farm on Long Island, and the only mushroom farm in the United States producing its own organic shiitake mushroom logs. We sustainably source pre-cut local hard wood that is free of chemical treatment and contaminates. The wood is ground and mixed with the necessary organic nutrients to produce our 100% Certified Organic Shiitake Mushroom Logs. The result is a Certified Organic Shiitake Mushroom that is meatier and more flavorful than any other shiitake on the market.”

RA’s Farm’s mushroom logs are currently unavailable but should be back soon. (Click here for more information)

Incidentally, mushroom logs are used to grow mushrooms and can vary in size from very small to hu-fungus. (Rimshot please!)

Mushrooms are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and also one of the most delicious. I don’t know if it is because we were able to pick them ourselves, but the organic mushrooms from RA’s Farm are as good as any that I have ever had. It helps that my better half is a great cook, but RA’s mushrooms really are special. The rich flavor, I suspect, is due in part to the fibrous and chewy stem which is packed with a lovely earthiness that is truly satisfying (I often felt like a child gnawing on a tasty piece of gum).

So, why exactly, are mushrooms so filling? Because once you’ve eaten them, you don’t have mush-room left in your stomach. (as one of my professors used to say, the jokes don’t get better, they just get repeated)

And how healthy are mushrooms? According to Lindsay Oberst of The Food Revolution Network, “Mushrooms are a superfood, and one of the most health-promoting foods on the planet. An estimated 50% of edible mushrooms are considered functional foods, meaning that they have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Countless scientific studies have revealed a variety of ways mushrooms can be useful in preventing and treating serious health conditions, and in improving overall health. In fact, research has identified more than 200 conditions that may benefit from mushroom consumption, and more than 100 different beneficial effects they can produce for the body…Perhaps surprisingly, humans are more closely related to fungi than to any other kingdom. Some of the essential molecules in mushrooms (a form of fungi) have been present in the human diet for so long that our bodies now depend on them, which could be part of the reason why they’re so good for us…Mushrooms are packed with nutritional value. They’re low in calories, and are great sources of fiber and protein (especially on a plant-based diet). Mushrooms also provide many important nutrients, including B vitamins, selenium, potassium, copper, and (when exposed to the sun) vitamin D. Even though the majority of mushrooms you’ll see in grocery stores are white mushrooms, don’t let their color deceive you. White button mushrooms are packed with as many antioxidants as more colorful fruits and vegetables…But what mushrooms are best known for and researched is their apparent cancer-fighting powers. Mushrooms contain a class of proteins called lectins, which are able to bind to abnormal cells and cancer cells and label the cells for destruction by our immune system. According to a 2016 article published in Molecules: Numerous studies have shown that mushrooms help fight breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, uterine cervix cancer, pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, and acute leukemia. In addition, antitumor compounds have been identified in various mushrooms species…In one amazing study of 2,000 women conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth, women who consumed at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms every day were 64% less likely to develop breast cancer.” Wow. Lindsay’s piece also explains how mushrooms are not only great for us, but also for our only planet!
(Click here for the entire article from The Food Revolution Network)

Lastly, mushrooms are amazing in just about every respect. Here are five facts about mushrooms that you may not know: 
– In the Blue Mountains of Oregon, there is a colony of Armillaria solidipes that is believed to be the world’s largest known organism. The fungus is over 2,400 years old and covers an estimated 2,200 acres (8.9 km2 or 5.5 sq mi). Above ground, the honey mushrooms are short-lived but the underlying mycelium (branch like vegetation) lives on.
– The world’s largest producer of edible mushrooms is China which produces about half of all cultivated mushrooms.
– Traditional Chinese medicine has utilized the medicinal properties of mushrooms for centuries.
– There are a few mushroom varieties found in the wild that are highly poisonous. A number of these look like common edible species, therefore it can be risky collecting wild mushrooms without good knowledge for identifying mushrooms.
– There are over 30 species of mushroom that actually glow in the dark. The chemical reaction called bioluminescence produces a glowing light known as foxfire. People have been known to use these fungi to light their way through the woods.

So, if you live in the NY Tri-State area, and you are interested in delicious organic mushrooms, and other lovely veggies, I would highly recommend a visit to RA’s Farm, in Moriches, NY. 🙂

You will have to call ahead on the phone, because they don’t host meetings on Zhroom. (Ba-dum-ching! Sorry, I couldn’t resist) 🙂

The bottom line? Mushrooms Rock!

Click here for more information on RA’s Farm.
Click here for the RA’s Farm website.
Click here for a link to the Science Kids’ site page for mushrooms.
Click here for a study on the health benefits of mushrooms. 
Click here for the study that shows how consuming mushrooms can reduce breast cancer by 64%.

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