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Frenchie holds up some premium Pine Mushrooms. He feels for the pickers and wishes he could pay more.
COMMENTARY · 11th October 2010
Moe Bullied
Pine mushroom buyers are taking thousands of local dollars out of region. I went to Frenchies and told him I couldn't afford to pick ,,,$2.50 lb and he said somebody else would probably pick them.

I understand they are getting UIC on the off season which I'm paying for. You'd think that they (the local buyers Wendy's , Jackies, Frenchies etc) would treat their pickers better because if it wasn't for them they would be twittling there thumbs at home.

I brought my nephew out the other day to teach how to pick proper,and also told him that the prices from the local buyers are a huge ripeoff for the work, which pickers have to do.

This is a story of local and province wide robbery.

The Terrace Daily Went To Investigate
Reporting - Merv Ritchie
It is now $2.00/lb and the local buyers are not the issue, it is the internationalists who set the price. Frenchie spoke about how little he and the other local buyers get on their purchases from the pickers. He claims it is hardly worth it for him to set up and sit all day too. On the best 'shrooms he accepts and grades he receives .25/lb.

For this he has to accept and listen to all the complaining about the low prices. Frenchie acknowledges it is a rip off and basically highway robbery. He believes the low prices for Pine Mushrooms is due to a bumper crop in Washington.

Pines are a unique mushroom as no one has found a way to grow good Pines artificially. Almost every other 'shroom, King Oysters etc, are now grown commercially therefore the prices are lower for pickers due to a guarenteed supply from commercial growers. Morels are much like Pines, they are generally only found in regions which have endured a fire the previous year or two, not commerially produced.

So the short story on this is the market forces of the world, not the local buyers. Three years ago, local outrageous kinda guy, Tory Charlton, performed the Pine Mushroom stomp. Read about it and see the video HERE. It was an expression of frustration which garnered international attention. The Big corporate buyers still contact the Terrace Daily due to this story.

Some think the way to increase the pricing is to jointly get together, like a Union, and refuse to pick. This is unlikely to happen and is even more unlikely to have any effect if it did. Like most economic issues across the globe, getting proper pay for picking Pine mushrooms in the Sacred Circle is completely out of local control.

Background from

Pine mushrooms are a gilled mushroom found in the Pacific Northwest of North America growing in the coniferous woodlands. These ectomycorrhizal fungi are usually an edible species which exist in a symbiotic relationship with various species of pine. They belong to the genus Tricholoma.

The best-known species of pine mushrooms are closely related East Asian Tricholoma matsutake, also known as "matsutake" or songi, while the North American species Tricholoma magnivelare, is also known as "ponderosa mushroom" or "American matsutake."

One very rare species that has been difficult to grow indoors without extremely precise controls is the Princess Matsutake.

In recent years, globalization has made hunting for pine mushrooms popular among all types people in British Columbia, where they are found under pine trees and often associated with deer trails. Local mushroom hunters sell their harvest daily to local depots who then rush them to airports. The pine mushrooms are then shipped fresh by air to Asia where demand is high and they are priced at a premium.

Pine mushrooms grow in many provinces. In northern Alberta, Sask., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, seasons can be cut short by killing frosts. The largest harvests in North America are in British Columbia where the season can start early in the north, in August. Pine mushrooms fruiting follows the cool weather as it moves down the coast like a wave. On Mt. Elphinstone, a popular harvest area, and Vancouver Island, picking can begin in Sept and continue right into December if conditions are right.

Prices paid by commercial buyers fluctuate daily and are effected by world politics, harvests from foreign countries, Japanese demand, currency rates, buyer discretion and many other factors. Prices can vary from $5 to $30 per pound or more, depending on the grade. Pine mushroom harvesting can be very lucrative but the days of $100 a lb or more are likely gone forever.

Read more:

The price per pound doesn't pay except as a hobby. The scale reads; 3.51lbs @ $2.00/lb for a total of $7.02. These are top rated Pines.  For making a living it is tough slogging.
The price per pound doesn't pay except as a hobby. The scale reads; 3.51lbs @ $2.00/lb for a total of $7.02. These are top rated Pines. For making a living it is tough slogging.
Crushed Pine Mushrooms after the stomp
Crushed Pine Mushrooms after the stomp
Grateful for The Pickers
Comment by Big Poppa's Depot on 14th October 2010
I just wanted to comment that I admire the perseverance that the pickers have that are toughing it out during these times of low prices. The truth is that the local pickers and buyers are not making the real money. Even the big buyers out of Richmond and Vancouver are now having a tough time, the fact is that there are way to many mushrooms available all over the world right now and that is why the prices are so low, the old theory of supply and demand. Anybody with internet access can research this for themselves and see the real truth.

For now I have had to shut my depot down until this Saturday when we are expected to open back up, hopefully with better prices. I will continue to buy mushrooms until my pickers have said they had enough. But for now I acknowledge and appreciate the pickers out there, I pick to during time off because it is very relaxing for me and who else will pay me for getting exercise and piece of mind. But in the same breath I realize that some are doing this for a way of living and I respect that and will continue to help as much as I can, most days I am even throwing in half of my commission.

To all those who continue to pick I wish you happy and full mushroom grounds and to those who just want to complain about the price may offer some advice that you try find a better way to earn an income, because of the market, it will be really hard to do.
Lies and truths
Comment by D. Edwards on 12th October 2010
I will never believe in a million years that frenchie is getting 25 cents a pound for number 1 mushrooms. that is pure bull. I can believe he is getting that for the number 3 and 4's.
As for the pickers picking for this price ya it is a shame...but if they pick more than 4 pounds of number 1's an hour it is more than our minimum wage.
I also have a problem with the picture that u posted with mushrooms on the scale, there is no way that those mushrooms weigh 3.51 pounds maybe with the basket included in that weight.which makes it misleading of facts. I have been in the mushroom industry for 20 years now and know that i never get the basket weight included with my mushrooms. That is money paid out with no shrooms..and what person wants to pay out money for nothing...
As for the comment that a person wrote about if buyers treated their pickers better..... every buyer i have dealt with were very nice and treated me real well whether it was a hot coffee or a cookie or even a small gas bonus it was apprecieated as they were for getting my mushrooms..

Editor note: We watched as the basket weight was entered to be subtracted from the total on the digital scale. He did this after we took an earlier picture. He asked that we retake it to have an accurate picture, not as you suggest, the other way around.
Comment by Patti Anderson on 12th October 2010
If the prices are too low, don't go out and pick. let nature take care of the mushrooms.
Slave Labour
Comment by Janice Robinson on 12th October 2010
For a short time, I received $200 per day to run up to the Nass and back every day of mushroom season. I used my own pick-up, and this was just before the road was paved. I used to carry the cash to drop off, while picking up mushrooms purchased that day. Throughout the year, I carried hundreds of thousands of dollars there, and picked up tons of mushrooms to send to a fellow named Joe Chung in Richmond. I think Joe bootlegs his mushrooms to the eager Japanese.

One night, Jackie told me to hold up at Kitwanga and wait for them. They wanted to come and see what a million dollars worth of number ones looked like. I quit the day that Joe Chung hollared at me as if I were dung under his shoe. He has even less respect for you pickers.

If you want to bust your butt making people like Joe Chung filthy rich......have at it. Me? I was outta there, with pride and dignity in tact. Let them pick their own damn mushrooms!

Honest......they are NOT in it to give pickers any break at all. They are in it to rip us all off.......with a smile on their faces, of course. The proud, pine mushroom picker is now one step above slavery.

Dealers & Buyers
Comment by Brian Grant on 12th October 2010
These Dealers..that these local buyers sell, wont say what they are actually making. But it is known that Pine Mushrooms are rare, & seasonal.

And sell to Restaurants/Markets in Asia...and resold at very High was shown on the Food Network...buyers here pay almost pennies on the dollar, yet secondary markets get anywheres between...30-80$ per pound..for good Grade Pines...
The Real Truth
Comment by Tracey Charlton on 11th October 2010
You cannot just blame the mushroom buyer alone for the low price, there is a long line from that mushroom buried deep in the moss to the picker, to the buyer, to the broker and then to the mushroom's final destination. To say buyer's are taking "Thousands of Dollars" from our "Sacred Circle" is untrue. I understand to some mushroom picking is like a bad habit and the hunt for mushrooms is uncontrollable to some come every fall. Ultimately though when that picker goes out and picks those mushrooms and doesn't keep his hunt for himself and turns around and sells those mushrooms to a buyer at a low price what message is he/she sending...Why would a broker let a buyer pay more when he can get them for such a low price? And if that broker makes a profit... well looks like he just had a good business day didn't he? That's just keeping it simple sure there are more logistics to it from markets, to freight charges and so on not to mention these mushrooms grow in so many places all over the world. If you believe that Mr. Frenchie on the corner is making 25cents a pound then I have miles of Ocean Front Property I could sell to you as well! I see he's got some fancy lights this year all decked out on his trailer...Hmm what's a couple of them strands worth? How many mushrooms at 25cents/lb did he have to buy to put them up this year??? You do the math! I don't think these people who sell their mushrooms have a clue as I drive by their depots are full of vehicle's with picker's selling their "hunt" who wonder where the days of $100/lb went they'll be lucky to get $10.00/lb in their dreams if they keep selling for pittance and I just can't understand why their complaining and Mr. Frenchie along with the rest of them are all smiling!
Comment by James Ippel on 11th October 2010
Do you really believe that Frenchie accepts 25 cents a pound for buying and grading mushrooms? You do!!
I have some ocean front property in Arizona real cheap--are you interested?