Mushrooms For The Million - Growing, Cultivating & Harvesting Mushrooms

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Eight vegetation zones can be distinguished in Sweden. The boreal zone and its sub-zones cover the largest part of the country [ 48 ]. In the eighteenth century, Sweden was still poor, and despite considerable effort, the provision of sufficient foodstuffs for the population was far from reliably secured. In some parts of the country, the peasantry experienced frequent crop failures, so food crises and famine were a constant threat [ 49 — 51 ]. Agriculture remained primitive.

In the subsistence economy, wild plants were essential for construction, hygienic and technical purposes, handicraft, dyes, animal fodder, and remedies, although seldom for human nutrition [ 19 ]. During the nineteenth century land reforms, ditching projects, modernization of agriculture and cattle breeding, better transportation through steamboats and railways, and better health care that resulted in the epidemiological transition improved the living situation of the population.

Sweden became industrialized rather late, and in the s, a large part of the population was still rural and poor [ 51 , 52 ]. Although considered linguistically homogenous, modern Sweden still holds a cultural diversity of many groups speaking various minority languages. Due to the long historical unification with Finland until , various Finnish-speaking groups still exist within the contemporary borders [ 53 ].

By , it had reached 5. The country has remained sparsely populated, especially in the north [ 51 ]. Contemporary Sweden has a fast-growing population, consisting of almost The greatest part of the population lives in urban areas, and the education level is high.

Nowadays, In addition, intergenerational social mobility has been high. As a result, the generations growing up in the post-World War II era with working-class backgrounds have received higher education compared to their parents. Sweden is now a post-industrial society with a majority of the population living in the largest cities of the country [ 54 ]. Beside ecosystem services and timber products, forests provide numerous other economic, environmental, and social benefits for the Swedes.

The forests and woodlands are important for recreation as well as for non-timber products. The Swedish population, although very urbanized, still has a close relationship with the forests. Many people spend time in forests just for recreation and meditation; others are hunting or gathering.

Hunting, especially for elk, Alces alces L. Although picking berries for household consumption has decreased in the last decades, they are still of importance for commercial harvesting. The economically most significant and most popular wild berry species in Sweden are cowberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.

They are primarily forest and mire species inhabiting various forests and peat lands [ 1 , 36 , 56 ]. The lichen is used for ornamental purposes, mostly exported to central Europe, where the leading importers are Germany, Austria, and Italy [ 57 ]. The human-biota relationship is complex, and therefore, ethnobiologists have to use a variety of methods when collecting data [ 58 — 60 ].


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The usage of qualitative questionnaires, originally an ethnological method for documenting and collecting material about everyday life, is a fruitful method for gathering information about mushroom hunting and consumption. The responses to qualitative questionnaires consist of memories, opinions, and experiences and thus offer understandings of great value [ 61 ]. Throughout the twentieth century, questionnaires have been used several times in order to document Swedish attitudes towards and utilization of mushrooms.

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Another survey was conducted by the Swedish Gallup Institute of housewives in the s, which included a few questions about the use and preservation of mushrooms within Swedish households [ 62 ]. Gathering activities have been rather superficially analysed by ethnologist Bengt Edqvist [ 63 ]. The results from the surveys mentioned above have all been used when conducting this study. In addition, a new open-ended questionnaire was constructed and dispersed.

Throughout the limited time-period of October to November , a total of questionnaire responses were analysed. The group of survey participants comprised 56 women and 44 men. A majority of the respondents lived in Uppsala, the fourth largest city in Sweden with , inhabitants in and the oldest centre of higher education in Scandinavia, Uppsala University. As a result, many of the study participants ended up being academics themselves, some even mycologists. Consequently, the results are most likely to have been affected by this particular group of respondents.

However, even though most of our participants live in Uppsala, they still have various geographical background with a few of them being born in other countries than Sweden Estonia, Finland, Poland, and USA. A slim majority, 53 of the respondents, grew up within an urban setting, while 23 originate from smaller communities and 20 come from the countryside.

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Four of the questionnaire respondents did not specify their upbringing environments Fig. Amount of study participants originating from city, smaller community, countryside, and unspecified environments. Further empirical data for the contemporary perspective was collected through participatory and non-participatory observations, informal interviews with vendors and customers at weekly markets, and with consumers of mushrooms in various situations [ 64 ]. Since mushroom hunting has become extensively common among the Swedish middle class, the authors have both taken part in many mushroom gathering activities since childhood.

The senior author IS has observed, harvested, and consumed mushrooms since the s, while the junior author HL holds a more limited experience of mushroom gathering consisting of the time period since the early s. Finally, large numbers of published handbooks, cookbooks, and recipe collections have also been consulted for this study [ 65 , 66 ].

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A handbook for young noble men published in gives recipes of morels, champignons Agaricus bisporus J. Lange Imbach , and Calocybe gambosa Fr. Morels Gyromitra esculenta Pers. In the eighteenth century, the cuisine of the tiny urbanized and internationalized upper class in castles and manors became more influenced by French cuisine.

They came in contact with mushrooms also through their chefs, which were originating from southwestern Europe. Therefore, there was a market for products that were not used among the peasantry. In addition, recipes with morels are also mentioned in the most famous cookbook of the s [ 68 ] and chanterelles were stated as food in the end of the eighteenth century [ 69 ].

Some attempts were made to promote mushroom export in the s, but no species are mentioned in the sources [ 70 ]. With the exception of the interest in morels among the French-influenced upper class, fungi was otherwise non-existent in the food culture for another century or two [ 2 , 16 , 66 ]. From the s until today, there has been extensive propaganda for the use of mushrooms as human food [ 9 ].

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In the nineteenth century, we encounter names such as Elias Fries, Nils Johan Andersson, and Johan Wilhelm Smitt as authors of brochures intended to promote consumption of fungi in Sweden [ 71 — 73 ]. Elias Fries — was a pioneering academic mycologist and professor in practical economy. In , he published a book with many examples of how mushrooms were being used in the cuisine of many other countries. He noted that Sweden had large resources in fungi which were not exploited and the Swedish people should be taught to use them [ 74 ]. Ethnologist Egardt emphasized that the propaganda for edible fungi as a foodstuff must be seen against the background of philanthropic and economical trends, typical of the time [ 2 ].

In particular, it was relevant to find nutrients that the peasant population could use as a substitute for harvest loss and famine years [ 9 ]. The primary objective of the mushroom propaganda was first and foremost to enlighten the peasantry about suitable emergency food in time of need [ 75 ]. During the period of food shortage and famine in the s, economic societies, governors, and local provincial governments made many attempts to promote new food items among the peasantry, for instance lichens and fungi.

The demonstrators gathered peasants in the villages to taste dishes prepared from several kinds of fungi, usually in the form of creamed mushrooms, mushroom soup, and mushroom bread. However, the peasants usually feared the fungi and no one dared to taste the dishes before [ 9 , 49 ] the demonstrators had eaten them, and even then, it was difficult to persuade most people. However, they still did not incorporate mushrooms into their local cuisine [ 9 ].

The starving peasantry was not convinced.

Food could be found in the nature outside the realm of normal production through the use of available free labour children, the elderly among the peasants. In many areas, mushrooms were regarded as being merely cattle fodder. The peasants had also observed that they contained larvae and insects. The use of mushrooms as fodder certainly made the propaganda for their acceptance difficult.

Edible fungi and other new food items met neither the criterion of cultural acceptability nor human dignity [ 49 , 75 ].

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There are some records from the early nineteenth century that are describing that Russian prisoners of war located in Sweden picked mushrooms. This phenomenon caused wonder and disgust among the locals who observed it [ 76 ]. Also, itinerant Kalderash Roma, who moved to Sweden from Southeastern Europe in the late nineteenth century, gathered fungi, mostly chanterelle C. Even though the demonstrators did not successfully reach the peasants with their mushroom propaganda, they still became interested in fungi as an important foodstuff for themselves.

Consequently, several handbooks were published during the second half of the nineteenth century. During the s, the urban gentry began to accept mushrooms. It was a kind of vogue to gather and consume mushrooms. As a result, among the majority of the population, during the beginning of the twentieth century, fungi were considered as being upper-class food [ 2 ].

In the early twentieth century, it was still only the people of the gentry and townspeople who consumed mushrooms [ 35 , 66 ]. The newly awakened interest in picking mushrooms for food among the s bourgeoisie became a subject for caricatures from Krumelurer Still, the twentieth century was the time when mushrooms begun to be accepted as food in wider circles [ 78 ]. Through the folklife records, we can obtain information regarding when fungi began to be consumed in the Swedish countryside.

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Therefore, educational efforts were important in order to teach the population on how to use these neglected resources. For a long time, however, Swedes only consumed chanterelles and Boletus edulis Bull. Several handbooks were published in large editions, which at least reflect an interest for edible fungi [ 66 , 68 ]. In the process of accepting fungi as food, we are currently witnessing the final phase of a taste change, ethnologist Brita Egardt concluded in her research [ 2 ]. This coincides with the general development of Sweden as an urban welfare society.

Between and , the Swedish economy grew at an average rate of Sweden had successfully moved into the high-income group of countries by — During the same time period, the urban people of Sweden developed an interest for the nature, which became accessible for town dwellers with private cars.

To be able to stroll through and make use of the forests and their products had been of great importance for urban people during the post-war era [ 1 , 46 , 80 ] Figs. Mushrooming in the vicinity of Uppsala in photo: Uppsala-Bild, courtesy Upplandsmuseet, Uppsala. The basket is a typical part of the necessary equipments for the mushroom picker photo: Simon Sorgenfrei, 7 October The interest in mushrooms has continuously been promoted by enthusiasts [ 1 , 16 ].

Important for the mushroom propaganda in the post-World War II era in Sweden was Nils Suber — , mycologist and author of several handbooks that was published in several editions. A disciple of Mr. Suber and famous contemporary mushroom expert and advocate, who often predicts the fungi season in media, is botanist Pelle Holmberg born He has made himself known as an important public educator in the field of mycology.

He has written around twenty books about fungi.