In January, The Packer’s Western correspondent Tom Burfield reported sales of specialty mushrooms such as the nameko and other Asian varieties are growing as consumers seek out different flavors and see mushrooms as a healthful way to extend or cut down on meat.
While the game might not enjoy the fervor here it’s seen in Japan so far — nameko merchandise, candy and a giant walking nameko along the lines of a theme park character are just some of the ways the country has capitalized on a mushroom cultural craze — tie-ins with companies that sell specialty mushrooms might be a good way to get the normally fungi-phobic to try something new.
In other news, now that summer has finally arrived here in the Midwest, so has the you-pick fruit season.
In mid-June our household was graced with nearly 15 pounds of fresh strawberries picked by friends and family at a farm outside of the Kansas City metro area. Even after making pies and jam we had a lot left over for fresh eating, but the fruit was so sweet and juicy we never tired of it during the week it took us to polish off all the berries.
After eating strawberries like that it’s tempting to want to grow our own. However, as Markets Editor Andy Nelson pointed out in a recent column about Wal-Mart’s research funding for local strawberry programs, getting the berries to grow successfully in Kansas is often a hit-or-miss proposition.
I have a feeling local berries, like other local produce, will become a summer treat, and we’ll happily eat California, Florida or Mexico berries the rest of the year.
We also spent a recent Saturday morning at another area you-pick operation picking blueberries. In addition to going home with almost 10 pounds of plump, deep-blue fruit, one of the highlights was watching the interactions between kids and their parents as they picked.
“Only pick the ones that are blue all over.”
“See the dark blue ones? Those are the ones we want.”
“Dad, where do blueberries come from?”