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Will 2015 Be the Best Mushroom Year Ever?

Canada braces itself for the biggest morel mushroom harvest in world history

(David Cavagnaro/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Morel mushrooms are nicknamed “molly moochers,” “hickory chickens” and “dryland fish.” But in 2015, they might as well be called "easy money."

Canada’s Northwest Territories will soon be home to the world’s biggest-ever morel harvest—a boon for mushroom harvesters and connoisseurs alike. This year’s mushroom mania all started with a fire, reports Meagan Wohlberg for the Northern Journal. Last year’s Birch Creek fire wreaked havoc in the NWT’s boreal forests, but it also laid the foundation for a bumper crop of morel mushrooms, which spring up after forest fires. Now the territory is preparing itself for a harvest worth up to $100 million, Wohlberg reports—a mushroom glut that will “flood the territory with pickers, buyers and millions in cash this summer.”

Why so much excitement about a shriveled shroom? The Kitchn’s Christine Gallary explains that the hollow mushrooms are fragile and perishable, difficult to cultivate, and hard to predict—three factors that rank morels both among the most coveted of ingredients and among the world’s most expensive mushrooms. In 2013, some morel pickers in Idaho made $1,500 a day in cash, and last year, morels attracted smugglers after foragers were banned from California’s Stanislaus National Forest. Canada's seasons means that more people might enjoy morels momentarily—but for mushroom lovers, there will never be a bumper crop big enough to fully satisfying their desires.

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