I'm somewhat of a culinary enthusiast, but one thing I hardly ever think about is where my food comes from. For me, I have a hard time accepting that my food ever had a life before the grocery store or farmer's market.
But earlier today, I was reading an interesting article about mushrooms in the local paper, the Monterey County Weekly. This unique food comes in a number of varieties, some of which are extremely expensive, and just as some mushrooms are worth more than diamonds, children are warned to stay away from the wild-growing kind, because they can be poisonous.
I've always been fascinated with the way that regular mushrooms are grown. How can the growers be sure that they aren't cultivating something that could be poisonous? It would certainly seem like a waste of time for any mushroom farmer to go wandering through the woods looking for these fungi, but how are they formed?
It turns out that most mushrooms are now grown indoors. Rather than leaving it up to chance, farmers can perfectly replicate the conditions that are used to grow this fungus using a whole house humidifier, among other things.
In addition to making sure that the air in the greenhouses where they're grown is moist, the farmers also have to work to make sure that no other pathogens are contaminating it, and for that reason, the air in each greenhouse is thoroughly filtered.
I never thought about it before, but the fact that mushrooms have to be grown in such a controlled environment makes a lot of sense to me. It's interesting to get a look into the life of food before it makes it onto the plate from time to time.