Advertisement
business

My Story: Foraging for Fun(gus) and Profit

Picking wild foods for restaurants and markets has become big business. But, as veteran mushroom hunter Connie Green of Napa, California, tells us, it’s not as easy as it looks.

How long have you been doing this? I’ve been hunting various wild foods all my life, and I’ve been selling mushrooms since 1981. I sell mainly to restaurants in California.

What’s your business like? I have a network of people who hunt mushrooms and sell them to me. Anybody can open a station to buy mushrooms and other foods, and get them cheap. But I’m always the one who gets the goods when things become scarce because I always make sure to pay well.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Why are so many people foraging? I think this is a very romantic business, like being a winemaker. I’m here in wine country in the hills, and I can look down on Napa Valley and see many wineries started by wealthy people who were tired of whatever life they were leading and turned to a more romantic life.

How has the business grown? I was doing this when nobody knew what a chanterelle was, and now it’s a sexy story in a lot of publications. So the word is out, and many people think there’s gold in them thar hills. But we pickers laugh at this. Going out and gathering $700 worth of mushrooms in a day? That happens, but not very often.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

What are the biggest challenges? Many businesses are governed by the economy, but wild foods are also governed by nature. Farmers have irrigation, insurance and different types of frost protection. With wild foods, you have no such protection. And you must take good care of the habitat. That makes foraging from the same place possible.

Where is the biggest profit? The matsutake mushroom can go for as much as $600 a pound. It’s very popular in Japan, but its habitat there barely exists now. When the price is high, some towns in Oregon nearly empty out in search of the mushrooms.

Do you think the popularity of foraging is a fad? At one time, Americans were quite good at gathering wild foods, and we thought of them as just another food source. We lost that tradition for many years, while it’s been growing in Asia, Africa and Europe. We’re very much late to the dance, but once we start dancing, I can’t see us slowing down.

Advertisement

Most Popular

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020
8 Ways You Might Be Cheating on Your Taxes
taxes

8 Ways You Might Be Cheating on Your Taxes

Don't fall into these common traps that can get you in hot water with the IRS.
July 8, 2020
Find a Great Place to Retire
happy retirement

Find a Great Place to Retire

Our cities provide plenty of space to spread out without skimping on health care or other amenities.
July 2, 2020

Recommended

Nursing in the Time of COVID-19
Financial Planning

Nursing in the Time of COVID-19

This health care professional warns that the pandemic will worsen the nursing shortage.
July 2, 2020
Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally
careers

Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally

A new chiropractor’s fledgling business plan to attract patients may sound reasonable at first look, but it’s actually against the law, and the same p…
June 30, 2020
Post-COVID-19, Seniors Must Chart a New Path in the Workplace
retirement

Post-COVID-19, Seniors Must Chart a New Path in the Workplace

Those most vulnerable to the pandemic will face challenges in the return to work, even as the recession means they may need their paychecks more than …
June 11, 2020
Dealing with an Early, Unexpected Retirement
retirement

Dealing with an Early, Unexpected Retirement

Current economic and health crises may be pushing many toward an unexpected retirement. Now is a good time to make a plan for yourself, just in case.
June 9, 2020