The Truth About Organic Farming - Interview Transcript – ARK Crystal

The Truth About Organic Farming - Interview Transcript

This interview is part of the ARK Crystal Wellness Week Series from February 2022. During the Wellness Week Series in held every February and Late Summer ARK Crystal brings together thought leaders and inspirational wellness speakers to share their knowledge and experience. 

Roberto Ramirez Organic Mushroom Farming Interview Transcript -

ARK - Okay, here we go. So I'm here today with a special guest for our Wellness Week is Roberto Ramirez, Mr. Fung guy from Mountain meadow mushrooms, a local mushroom grower in Southern California, one of the largest mushroom growers in California. Is that right?

Roberto - Yes.

ARK - And you grow organic mushrooms and you're USDA organic certified and Primus GFS certified and your pesticide pesticide free on all of your products. And we want to talk with you today for our Wellness Week because of all of these amazing things that you're doing for the community and for the health of everybody and knowing that organic is usually best and local is what we're striving for. So I want to go ahead and start with the questions. Is that Okay?

Roberto - Sounds good.

ARK - Did I miss anything on on your introduction?

Roberto - Nope, perfect.

ARK - Um, so what is mountain meadow mushroom.

Roberto - So, Mountain Meadow Mushroom farm was established in 1952. And for the most part, it was a mostly white mushroom farm. Up until the, a few years ago, we that's all we did at least 98% of our production was the white mushrooms, the mushrooms that you see at your salads, pizza, things of that nature. Because in the United States, we produce about, we eat consume about a billion pounds of mushrooms. 65% of them are more comes from Pennsylvania and California was the number two in the nation besides Pennsylvania that grew a lot of white mushrooms. However, over the years, obviously especially since the pandemic hit, more people are started discovering other types of mushrooms. In the white mushroom for us. We have changed our whole dynamic of what Mountain Meadow Mushroom was, to what it is now

ARK- Because now you offer in addition to the what everybody thinks of when they think mushroom just a little white button mushroom, you offer cremini, shiitake, Oyster, King trumpet, may...

Roberto - maitake

ARK - Reishi, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, Pioppino, and Lion's mane. So in the past 10 years, especially you you've introduced, the more exotic mushrooms

Roberto - Actually, in the last year, we started with the oyster mushrooms, which is what we call exotic. Anything other than the white mushroom is what we consider exotics.

ARK- laughter

Roberto - We started introducing the oyster mushrooms because a lot of people wanted oyster mushrooms, our distributors. And we didn't have it. So we started growing a little bit of the oyster mushrooms and and then we introduced some of the other ones like the shiitake. And we were growing for a few years and up until like I said, that when COVID hit, we started discovering some of the more medicinal mushrooms that are available. And we were able to grow them and say, Okay, if we grow white mushroom, we can grow other mushrooms as well. So we started growing Lion's Mane, which is one of our biggest, best mushrooms that we LOVE, because we can get a little bit more money from it, we grow that mushroom, and it is very beneficial too, many benefits that has from treating dementia, treating Alzheimer's, remain focus, your gut health, a lot of other other benefits that have not been approved by the FDA, but we can still say

ARK - you can say that there have been studies done that show

Roberto - many studies about it. And I know this mushrooms that we started discovering that we can grow here that have been grown by Chinese by the Asian, Asian people and use them for for medicinal purposes. And all of a sudden, us as Americans, we're like, Oh, my God, look at this. There's all these benefits. And it just has been phenomenal for us. Because more and more people are discovering in knowing that we have them available. They want something that is fresh, and that's the key factor for us that we have.

ARK - So yeah, it's fresh and organic. I was just gonna ask about that. So what's the difference between you, Mountain Meadow Mushroom, and other mushroom farms that may not be labeled as organic?

Roberto - So when we were growing organically for many, many years, when I first started working here 25 years ago, we're growing organically. It's just that we didn't have the certification from from the USDA. And you know, it requires paperwork and requires a little bit of homework and also more money that you pay them to come and inspect you and make sure that you have the practices of growing organically. So we were very hesitant at first to become organic, it was like a big oh my god, though we're already doing it! Mushrooms, by nature, that's what they do, especially mushrooms, like the oyster mushrooms, they can take sites that have been deemed hazardous. And they can break down some of the materials that no other plant can do, and turn it into something organic. They can turn oil and plastic into an organic matter.

ARK - Oh, Really?!

Roberto - YES! So I mean mushrooms, you know, certain mushrooms mostly, but for the most part mushroom, what it does, it breaks down the materials that other plants can break down. And they grow, and they have the benefits. You know, that's why different mushrooms have different benefits. But for the most part, they break down something that nobody else can break down and nothing else can break down in nature. And then in return, you get the fruit, which is the mushroom, and then you get compost, which is beneficial to keep growing other other vegetables and other plants.

ARK - That's fantastic. I didn't know that about it can eat things that are considered toxic. And then can you eat the mushroom after it has done those things?

Roberto - There have been studies, they have been, we're actually doing our own here where we want to grow them and show that we can eat them ourselves. We're very, very confident that the mushrooms are not going to be toxic. So but there have been studies not just here but also in Ecuador, there have been places where where the big oil companies dumped their their oil and their waste. And they're using Mycelia mushroom Mycelia to clean up those sites. And even if you don't eat the mushroom, at least you're cleaning up the site in a very natural way

ARK - Natural way. That's fantastic. I didn't know that. I'm gonna have to do more reading into that now.

Roberto - Like I said, we started doing this the Reishi Mushrooms and powder. Reishi mushroom is one of those mushrooms that has medicinal. But a lot of people can't digest it fresh. So they use it in teas, they use it in their coffee, or things of that nature. Or they also use it in the tincture feature, which we also have. But Reishi, the mycelia for Reishi and again, this is something that we're not doing ourselves or we discovered, but here's what Reishi mycelia looks like.

ARK - Okay.

Roberto - What's interesting about Reishi is that you can take this material and then you take that. Compress it. And this material can be used as a leather, like material. All natural.

ARK- So instead of doing pleather where it's it's petroleum based

Roberto - Or animal hide.

ARK - Yeah. So you're able to take mushroom

Roberto - mycelium

ARK - Leather. that's awesome.

Roberto - There's two companies that are already doing that. We're doing it in a small scale. Like I said, this is this is how it looks. Once it fluffs up, then we take that, compress it, and that's how tough it is.

ARK - Yeah, gee are there any companies right now doing it on a like a commercial scale?

Roberto - There are some companies that are doing it in commercial there's two companies I think is Micro Labs is the name of it. And you know, they have it all down into the science, right? Again, it's nothing that us as a small farm can't do ourselves and even do it for our own clothing line or, or hats or it's just the possibilities are endless.

ARK - I think that's a fantastic alternative especially for people who try to be not only animal friendly but also... earth friendly with but still have the practicality of leather in their in their clothing and accessories.

Roberto - Right. And then once you're done with this, we can grow mushrooms

ARK - grow more.

Roberto - And then there's the material, which is the sawdust and all the material that we grew that mycelia it's compost,

ARK - it's compost, which then goes back into growing more mushrooms.

Roberto - So we have zero, absolutely zero waste.

ARK - That's amazing, Roberto. I'm so it's, it's so exciting that you're getting into that I have no idea you are so smart. 

Roberto - I'm trying. *laughing* give us some money so we can do more and more research and other people are doing it, but we just want to do it in a small scale and see how it works for us and, and you know, try it, try something different. Here's another one that we just started doing. Just today, this will be our first mushroom jerky.

ARK - mushroom jerky

Roberto - Which is taking just king trumpets, and then marinating them with different organic materials, sauce, all of that, and then airfrying them and that tastes phenomenal.

ARK - That's great. I love jerky. So anything saved like that I'm down with. Um, so I'm gonna ask you a few more questions. And then we can get into a whole bunch more other things. So um, so since you've become organic certified, you've also been able to work indirectly with some of the schools in the area. And in the military. Is that correct?

Roberto - Yes. So we, we weren't supplying directly to them or to the school, the schools or the military. But what we did is we are we start with doing started doing this, we supply to our distributors, that in turn, they will supply it to the schools or they will supply to the to the military. So we have a military certification, where they come every year and inspect us to make sure that which is very similar to the USDA certification to make sure that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. And they give us a little stamp of approval.

ARK - Now, does that have a lot and I noticed that there are some schools in the area and even in New York that are going meat free on certain days of the week. Is this partnering with the distributor that it does this have to do with wanting to improve the diet of you know, American children?

Roberto - That was that was part of it. And the meatless Mondays, what they call in also, you know, the mushroom council has done a lot of work, where we actually partner up with Sonic, the the store or the restaurant. Where before COVID they actually did for almost a year, a blended burger, so not necessarily taking the burger and going plant based, which is what a lot of them are doing right now. But taking 50 to almost 70% of it and replacing it with mushrooms and you still have some of the meat but you reduce the calories and you reduce the fat DRASTICALLY. And used to have a nice nice burger patty, okay, it was phenomenal. I'm not sure where they're at because it was just a limited time item that they had. So I'm not sure how how they're doing since you know pandemic hit everybody's like all over the place. But I see a lot of a plant based burgers that everybody's pushing and all the other restaurants are pushing...

ARK - So if somebody doesn't want to go full on

Roberto - correct

ARK - Plant based they can swap out like half of the meat and put in some very tasty mushrooms instead, like so I know that you know button mushrooms people say it doesn't really have much flavor. But I love button mushrooms because it takes on the flavor of anything that you put with it kind of like...

Roberto - I'm one of those people that do not like the white mushroom. The texture of it I just cannot stand. *laughs* 

ARK - so what would you suggest adding instead white button mushroom

Roberto - I love my wife's cream of mushrooms. She does the cream of mushroom with the white mushrooms and I'll eat it. But white mushroom I cannot stand whatsoever. But you know doing with the with the tacos where you chop them up and you put them in the ground meat and replace even if you replace 25% of it, you're already. It's a huge advantage. 

ARK - And mushrooms are good for what is it vitamin D? you can get fiber and vitamin D?

Roberto - The mushroom is the only produce, again it's not a plant, it's the only produce that creates their own vitamin D when they're exposed to UV light or the sun. There's nothing else that does that. And it's 100% of the daily value of d that you're that you need. So technically you can have your button mushrooms in the kitchen, let the sun hit them for about 15 minutes or so, and they'll produce 100% of the vitamin D that you need.

ARK - So instead of taking another pill throughout the day, have some mushrooms for your vitamin D, since almost every single one of us is vitamin D deficient.

Roberto - Correct. And also the City of Hope, they did a study with white mushrooms, specifically white mushrooms, i think it was five years ago, but you can search it, and you'll you'll find it right away, where they did a study with people that had prostate cancer. And there said there's a number I forgot what that what they call it a certain number, like when you have with cholesterol and diabetes, there's a certain number that you have with with your prostate. And it lowered their number by drastically 25 50% some of the some of the patients that were taking white mushroom pills, every day white mushroom pills, and they lower their their numbers. So again, it doesn't cure you. It doesn't, you know, fight it off. It's not a silver bullet. But it's just another way to help you fight it off.

ARK - That's fantastic. I think we're all looking for more sustainable, natural ways of improving our diets and therefore improving our health without, you know, taking another pill isn't necessarily a bad thing. We have wonderful science, but if we can do it in a way that is a little more natural and in and a little more integrated into your daily life. I think that's fantastic.

Roberto - That's why you know, the powders have been very successful for us because a lot of people were asking for them. So, Lion's Mane, like I said it has the benefits of dementia, you know fight off dementia and Alzheimer's.

ARK - Doesn't it also help with depression and anxiety?

Roberto -  depression, anxiety, and to help you help you maintain your glucose level if you're a diabetic

ARK - so good for diabetic, Okay, that's fantastic.

Roberto - I can attest to this because I know of a person that had very high numbers and again, you know, combination with their diet and this it was just another thing that they started taking and helping them maintain those levels of glucose levels.

ARK - So in addition to what they were already doing, they added and was at the lion's mane.

Roberto - Yes and we offer it and you know, fresh form, people like to take in the fresh form people take in powder, or the tincture form. Because you don't want to take it just in one form all the time and you get sick of it or yeah every mushroom has their their their different tastes so Lion's Mane, it tastes like crabs. You know, it has that crabby taste to it. And you're like, Wow, is this a mushroom is like yeah, it's a matter of taste like crab. King trumpet. It tastes like scallops. When I first tasted it, my wife made it and she's like, Oh yeah, I made some scallops. And I was like, Wait a minute. They do taste like scallops but I don't there's something different about it.

ARK - They're delicious but a little different than I was expecting.

Roberto - I was... that was pretty good. and we have Pink Oyster mushroom that tastes like bacon.

ARK - And you offer those as well that the pink oysters I've I've seen those and some of the higher end... 

Roberto - Pink oyster and the golden oyster. Golden oyster has a little bit of a chestnut taste to it. And then then your Blue Oyster I have a customer that uses the King Trumpet for Pozole so instead of using the meat for pozole they use a king trumpet. Another one told me they use the Blue Oyster because it has the pork kind of taste to it. So you use the mushroom the Blue Oyster instead of the meat. So it's like a lot of a lot of ways that you can you can have literally one every day one different recipe every day.

ARK - Oh I know *laughing* all the recipes that we've come up with over the years trying to make mushrooms super fancy and and easy to use. I didn't know that blue oysters were a real thing. I thought it was just the band.

Roberto - No, it's a real thing.

ARK - Do you offer the blue and the the yellow oysters or

Roberto - Yes, the blue oysters, the one that that like I said it's the one that we call them the the vultures of the mushroom world because they can devour just they grow and just about anything they grow in cardboard, more recycled cardboard. They're the ones that devours the oil. They're the ones that grow sawdust or straw, they just grow just about anything.

ARK - That's amazing. I love I love the idea of using those mushrooms and then eating them.

Roberto - Right.

ARK - It's our Thank you, thank you mushrooms!  We're gonna eat you now.

Roberto - There's another company that's doing something similar to this with the Reishi, but in terms of what instead of, let's say this is a package that you want to send, they'll they'll make the, the foam-figure that you want, and then at the end, you just shave this off. And now instead of using foam, to send wine or to send anything, now you have this structure that is very, it's stronger than foam. And then when you're done with it, you just put it on your garden and you're done. And you don't have to worry about all the foam that we all get all the time, every time we buy anything

ARK - and if I wasn't able to compost it in my own garden, if I did put it in the trash, it would then go into, it'd be compost, that's fantastic. I'm loving, loving, loving, loving mushrooms even more than I did it already. Starting 10 years ago, when I met you.

Roberto - I even have another lady that just came last week, she's, she's a doctor who's working with UCSD because they want her to, they're already doing it and in Europe is taking when somebody dies, because of COVID they've been given a lot of a lot of requests that they don't want to incinerate their, their their loved ones. And they don't want to bury them. They want to turn them back into nature. And one way that they're doing it Europe is taking the body put it in this is sustainable casket, and they inject mycelium into the body. And the body becomes a food source for the mycelia. You're in the forest and then mushrooms pop up. And that's one way of returning. Yes.

ARK - Wow.

Roberto - So I have this lady who's in the US. They're not doing it currently, because obviously, you know, we're always behind on a lot of things. But she's doing the research on, you know, the type of mycelia they want to use the type of you know how much to inject and depending on the size of the person, and so on and so forth. But eventually in the next, probably within five years, you start seeing that in the US where people are going to start doing that instead of the traditional burying or incinerating them.

ARK - That's... Yeah, I've read a bit about the the comp like, you know, composting of your loved ones. And the way you explained it makes it sound much lovelier.

Roberto - I don't want to eat mushrooms in the forest from this person. It's like, No, we're all compost at the end of the day.

ARK - At the end of the day eventually, like we're all in the water, eventually, we're all in the dirt eventually.

Roberto - It's no different. When somebody dies in the incinerator in the they send them to the ocean and they spread their their ashes on the ocean. So and a lot of a lot of the request for because, you know, because of COVID everybody was getting incinerated en mass, you know, it was a 20 bodies at once so you got the ashes that we didn't know who, you didn't know who was and a lot of people, like, that's, we don't like that it as you know, a lot of people have when somebody that you love dies is very dear to your heart. At least this this way, at least you feel way better. And that's 

ARK - You know, you know where they are

Roberto - Exactly, exactly where they are and what's what's happening to them.

ARK - Exactly, exactly. Yeah, we cremated a family member of mine, and we put them out in the water. So we know that he's generally out there somewhere. But I think that it, you know, if we wanted to visit, it'd be nice to be able to go see some mushrooms in a forest too. I like that idea. So I have some other questions.

Roberto - It's $100 a question and $100 for the right answer

ARK - Oh, yeah, just send me an invoice when we're done. And then we'll have it taken care of. So you you've mentioned COVID Because COVID has impacted everybody and everything. And I know you weren't simply (simply) you were not a direct to consumer farm before COVID hit. Can you explain some of the changes that have occurred? For you guys, I know you are already organic, previous to COVID because I remember you going through the process can explain how it did impact you guys?

Roberto - Yes. So before COVID, we were 99% of our product was going directly to business, the business to business model, we sell to distributors that will sell to restaurants. So we knew that our mushrooms for for the most part in Southern California. But we didn't even know sometimes, you know, the restaurants that we went and ate, will ask him you have mushrooms. Yeah. And it's like it was our mushrooms. And it was very neat to see that. But, and people will come most of the people that will come the 1% was people that will come for compost, and then they'll say, "Oh, we want to buy some mushrooms." And then we sold them mushrooms. Well, that changed drastically because obviously COVID hit and the restaurants just shut down for two weeks where you know, I remember March 17, I was in downtown Escondido giving away 17,000 pounds,

ARK - oh my goodness,

Roberto - That's 1700 boxes that we gave out in downtown Escondido and I handed out every single one of them. So that was heartbreaking. And that's on top of throwing away another 20. And then what was coming in because you didn't know, the two weeks was going to be two years. Right? So we were hopeful that it was going to be two weeks. And when we saw it was two weeks, then three weeks, then we started you know, cutting everything down. So then we say okay, well we can't go to to the restaurants because they're closer they're limited. Even when they opened up. Most of the restaurants were doing takeout and a lot of the restaurants because they're businesses like we are the first thing they cut is whatever is more expensive. And, and whatever people don't buy the most. And mushrooms is one of them because a commodity it is not your tomatoes or your lettuce or, or your oil which every restaurant uses. So mushrooms were the first thing that they started cutting. So that took a toll on us. And we started saying okay, well, we partnered up with some other farmers and they were doing the the boxes even before COVID where they started preparing boxes with different from different farms different produce and delivering them. That took off. It helped them drastically. So we started partnering up with them to provide some of the mushrooms and provide different types of mushrooms. So everybody will always get a different different kind of mushrooms. And they will call us and say, "What is this mushroom? They don't they didn't tell me what it was it" Anyway it creates more and more connection with the customers. And then they discover that there's more mushrooms that we have, and it goes from there. So that was one of the things that we started doing. Then we started going to the farmers markets. And again, before this, we did have the county allows a certificate, so you can sell your products. And then I allowed two other farmers to be on your certificate. So for the most part, we just had those two farmers and they bought and resold a product along with their own product. And we didn't have to go to the farmers market. So it worked great. And then when they opened up, we were like okay, well, let's let us start with the farmers market ourselves. And we started with Escondid unfortunately, it was in the summer, and we're very, very new. So it was pretty much a flop for the most part and we were paying more money to have two people there than we actually earned. It wasn't paying at all. So we got a little bit discouraged. But then when people started tasting our mushrooms that were fresh, they started calling us. So all of a sudden we got a call from the Carlsbad market. And, and it was amazing because the first day we ran out of mushrooms and we were like, good. So we you know, people were like, "Where have you been all this time?" It was like, "Well, we've been here since 1952. And, you know, we're not that far", but it's like "No we want your mushrooms" So, every week they were they were, you know, making sure that we're there and there was actually one week. So we were there for like three four weeks and then the fifth week we were going through recertification and PRIMUS and all that so it's it's a lot of work. So we couldn't go so we skipped one week. The next week they they were like "Where were you last week? What happened to you? You can't do this to us! Next time let us know we thought you were gone." I was like "no, I'm sorry. It's just one week!" We're farmers, you know, we have to work.

ARK - Yes. We actually farm

Roberto - "you have fresh stuff, I can't taste the product from the stores" and this and that is just not the same. So we started doing the farmers market, then we started opening up for people who come to the farm and providing more. Not only do we provide fresh compost that we give it away, you come here you pick up as much as you want. There's a huge pile. Yeah, I'll show you real quick. There's the pile.

ARK - That is a big pile of compost

Roberto - That pile will be gone. Come not even in the summer, come March, April, the whole pile will be gone. Because everybody gardens during the hot days. Yeah, that's what happened last year. So I'm anticipating that same thing's gonna happen this year. So we give away compost. And we also did a little fun for we started delivering our compost as well. We bought a truck so we can deliver compost. And we did a little of fund for so we can provide compost to schools, school gardens in and around the area. And you know, it's amazing because we have a list of people that that need compost. Really, okay, we got to make sure we have enough for everybody.

ARK - So you deliver compost to local schools so that they can have their own school gardens?

Roberto - Yes, yes, we have delivered here in Escondido, the garden club here several times we delivered down in San Diego area, and different schools. Escondido high school, San Pasqual. All kinds of schools that they're doing that the little small gardens, because we know that they're very limited budget. So you know what, at least if... and people are very generous, you know, when they buy compost, we charge $30 to load them and they'll give us five bucks for for for the fund. So it's like whenever we have a list, go through the money that we have, and try to provide the compost to the schools.

ARK - That's amazing. That's fantastic. It's just one more thing that you're doing for the community. And, and I don't think that they realize that's, that's really, really beneficial to so many people. Good on you. 

Roberto - Thank you

ARK -  It's a compliment, take the compliment. So you are highly involved in the community, not just in Escondido, but like you said in San Diego in general. And you're part of the farmer markets. So what do you think about this shop local shop slow kind of movement, that's, that's been the one good thing to really come out of this whole COVID mess.

Roberto - We were pushing for that for the last five to 10 years. I mean, San Diego has a buy 365, which is a logo that that we put in there. At the end of the day is is the big companies, they always go for what's cheaper for them. And what's what's, what's easiest for them, which I understand,

ARK - which is understandable.

Roberto - Yeah, understandable. But um, you know, sometimes my mushrooms will go up north, and then they'll come back down, and then somebody else will have them here. It's like, Oh, my God, that doesn't make any sense. You know, and it's just part of the business. And every business is the same thing. I mean, you can buy something from Amazon, even though you're in cars, be the person that's selling it, but it has to go Sacramento and then come back and back deliver to you then in Oceanside. So you know we work with the with the local, we always promote. I always tell people doesn't matter if it's not my mushrooms just by something that is not even in California only buy U.S. And it's where I get a little bit iffy when I tell people and because there's some I don't want to bash on any country. But there's some countries that they're allowed to bring mushrooms into the United States and you can do the math and figure it out. But there's some countries that can bring mushrooms specifically white mushrooms because of the mushroom that is sold the most. And those mushrooms could be treated with chemicals that are not allowed to be used in the United States even if you're not organic, but they're allowed to be used in other countries, but the US allows them to sell them here. And one in specific is the formaldehyde in some of the mushrooms in order to remain white they they use formaldehyde. Because back in the days in the 70s, you know, when mushroom growing, they used to use formaldehyde to keep the mushrooms white,

ARK - a preservative to make it look pretty

Roberto - yes to look look pretty. And I always teach my, every time I do a tour I teach my people that come over my customers how to tell if you have a fresh mushroom or not. And if you take a mushroom looks nice and white, I'm always questioning if it's fresh or not. And all it is, is just opening it. And when you look at the gills, the gills will not lie. If the gills are very dark, then you know that mushroom's old. If the gills are nice and pink and almost even white, then you know they're the freshest mushrooms you can you can buy. And I told them even if it's my mushroom, if it's dark, it means it's been old. It's been there for many, many days because that's when mushrooms do especially the white mushrooms. So that's the only thing I tell people. But again, I just have to be careful because people will always just hear formaldehyde and mushrooms. They don't hear oh  formaldehyde mushrooms from OTHER countries

ARK - Other countries not mushrooms grown in the United States and not your mushroom, not your beautiful organic mushroom.

Roberto - So the other thing that a lot of people don't understand about being organic. So just because you're organic doesn't mean you're pesticide free.

ARK - Okay

Roberto - We were actually pesticide free before we became organic. The only thing is that we in order for me to get a label that says I'm pesticide free, I will have to pay about $5,000. And I'm like, Why should I if I know that my mushrooms are pesticide free, and I just tell people, they're pesticide free. I don't need to pay for that label. But if you are organic, I always teach people if you're organic doesn't mean you're pesticide free. So you have to be careful. Now I'm not saying that pesticides are bad. It's just that if you're organic and there's certain pesticides that you're allowed to use in organic operations,

ARK - okay, so if I'm at a farmers market and I run into someone that's selling mushrooms they say they're organic, I should ask, if that's a concern of mine. Are you also pesticide free?

Roberto - Yes. And like I said, the pesticides that they use, they're not they're not because even alcohol is is considered considered a pesticide. Hydrogen peroxide is considered a pesticide that you can use in the organic operation. So again, it's just being aware that just because you're you're organic automatically does not qualify you to be pesticide free or you can say you pesticide free.

ARK - So just make make yourself aware and knowledgeable of what what you're actually doing and what labels actually mean.

Roberto - Correct. Yes, yes.

ARK - Okay. Well, that's great. So if I want to buy Mountain Meadow organic Mushrooms that are also pesticide free, um, I would go to the farmers market is that correct here in San Diego county.

Roberto - We're currently going to Rancho Santa Fe Farmers Market Carlsbad Farmers Market in Escondido farmers market. And then like I said, we have older partners, that they're farmers and they sell strawberry and other produce along with our mushrooms. So they are our mushrooms. And there you can ask for the certification because they're required to have it at the point of sale. And you'll see Mountain Meadow and their name right next to it. So

ARK - and if I can't, if I can't come to the farmers market in Southern California because let's say I'm in you know, Long Island or something, um, I can go online, correct and buy some of your products.

Roberto - We don't recommend the fresh mushrooms. Yeah, because the mushrooms are very delicate. And by the time they travel for even if they're expedited for a day. You know, there's a lot they don't they don't travel very well.

ARK - But if I was to say get the Reishi tinctures or the powder or even the jerky

Roberto - We offer them on Etsy and we also have our we're trying to get our own online store together that way we can offer to people want to buy all over the United States. And one thing I want to say about the powders is I know you can go online, you can go on Amazon and you'll find a bunch of people selling the product. But the one thing I want to caution people about is to make sure they look for how much they're using of the of the fruit body versus the Mycelium. So, just a quick and there's a lot of theories about a where a lot of people Oh, that Mycelium is better than the fruit and so on and so forth. We use 100% of the fruit body,

ARK - okay.

Roberto - Because of the research that we have done says that that has the most nutrients. It doesn't mean that Mycelium doesn't. But the problem with the use of mycelia extract or mycelium powder in combination of fruit, excuse me, fruit body, sometimes it's 50/50. It's... and I'll show you here. So you see all the mycelium on the top right here.

ARK - Yeah

Roberto - That's the fruit body right there. So, down here, I have sawdust, and wood and all of that. I cannot, I cannot extract just Mycelia out of here. So you're gonna get sawdust, you're gonna get everything now in combination, it's impossible to just get Mycelia by itself. That's the problem when you have... and the way that you can tell that you have not 100% is going to be in the price. Because it's going to be cheaper. So if something that's 50% Fruit body and 50% mycelia is going to be way cheaper than something's 100% fruit body. 

ARK - The Mycelium might also contain sawdust or other products.

Roberto - Yes, exactly. In the product.

ARK - Ok. In their product. Okay, well, I'm very excited. I am loving everything that's going on with you, personally, at Mountain Meadow Mushroom, and also all of the research that's being done with mushrooms in general. I'm going to we're going to include links to your website and your Etsy site and so that people can enjoy all the fruits of your labor. And thank you so much for being a part of our Wellness Week. And hopefully, we'll have you again soon.

Roberto - Yeah, if you have any other questions, you have my email and I'll be more than happy to I can talk about mushrooms all day long.

ARK - I sit and listen to you talk mushrooms all day long. So all right. Thank you.

Roberto - Thank you so much. Appreciate it.


Roberto Ramirez - Organic Mushroom Farmer


Thank you again to Roberto Ramirez from Mountain Meadow Mushrooms for such a fun, and informative, interview.  To find out more about his Organic Mushroom Farm and to purchase tinctures and powders please visit -