We met up at the Portland Farmers Market early Saturday morning to enjoy the abundance of fresh food which is basically grown in our backyard. Many things grabbed our attention and filled our bellies, but one stand in particular drew us in. North Spore Mushrooms is a local mushroom cultivator who not only sells at the farmers market but also provides their product to an enormous number of local Portland restaurants, a tiny sampling that we have seen the North Spore Mushrooms on menus include East Ender, Sur Lie, and Local 188. On top of cultivation, they take wild foraging expeditions, have classes on cultivation and mushroom identification, they sell starter kit’s so you can grow mushrooms at home, and make medicinal mushroom tinctures and chaga tea (seen below).
Kevin, North spores “oldest employee” (not old at all, has just worked there the longest), took the time to explain to us about their operation in Westbrook but also about each species of mushroom available that day. Next time you’re at the Portland farmers market, stop by and chat with him. It’s crazy how much there is to learn about fungus and how interesting it truly is.
We asked him what his favorite mushroom is and he said if he had to decide he would have to pick shiitake. He stated that the meaty texture and versatility is what lead him to that decision. Along with the shiitake they also had oyster mushrooms, black trumpets, king trumpets and lobster mushrooms as well as the chance to get a mixed container.
In general mushrooms are neutral in temperature and sweet in flavor. The function of this food is to drain dampness and tonify spleen and stomach Qi which makes them great for the treatment of fatigue, poor appetite, and frequent urination.
But more specifically each mushroom has its own medicinal properties. The following photograph is from the Clinical Guide To Commonly Used Chinese Herbal Formulas:
We also discussed Ling Zhi or Reishi mushrooms and cordycepts and their use in traditional Chinese medicine and western botanical therapy. When we spent time in China, we saw these mushrooms everywhere.
Reishi mushrooms have the ability to nourish the heart and calm the spirit as well as tonify qi and blood. They are primarily used to stop coughing and wheezing- think asthma symptoms.
Cordycepts are prized in Chinese medicine for their ability to support the Kidneys, supplement yang and boost the Lungs. Kevin also talked to us about their use in treating Lyme disease. Along with Japanese knotweed, they are one of the few substances that are able to cross the blood brain barrier and help to stop the progression of nerve damage associated with the disease. The other use for Cordycepts we find beneficial is to increase the lung capacity of endurance athletes (long distance runners, triathletes, ironman competitors, etc.).
Check North Spore Mushrooms out and enjoy!