Co-op guarantees mushroom price

  • Sep. 26, 2007 9:00 a.m.

Chanterelle prices may be plummeting this season, but pickers who are members of the Haida Gwaii Local Foods Processing Co-operative are guaranteed a decent price. Lynda Dixon says that even though she’s heard rumours of prices dropping as low as 75 cents per pound due to a glut of the prized orange mushrooms on the world market, the Queen Charlotte-based co-op will never pay less than $2.50 per pound. She admits she has heard complaints from some pickers about the requirement of buying a $100 membership first. But, she says people need to think long term. The co-op is committed to supporting pickers who support the concept of local control over local resources, she says. People ask her what’s in it for them. Her answer is that pickers can be guaranteed they are part of a project whose aim is to reinvest in the community. She says many buyers and even pickers are from off-island, so money often leaves the community right away. Membership also gives pickers the ability to have a say in the prices and polices of the co-op. The co-op is set up as a non-profit, so it can’t give out dividends even if lots of money pours in, she says. But money can be distributed back to the community in other ways, like increasing the price paid for mushrooms, she said. The new facility still has a few glitches to work out, like the limited drying capacity. Ms Dixon said they are only able to dry 400 pounds a day right now, but are working on increasing the capacity. So far she hasn’t received 400 pounds of chanterelles a day in any case. Ongoing and future projects at the Haida Gwaii Local Foods Processing Cooperative include working with a Food Safe Safety Initiative at training all workers in basic level one training and bringing the plant up to health standards. They also have scientific, technical and financial assistance from the Industrial Research Assistance Program. This is helping the co-op create a methodology for the new vacuum microwave technology.”Last year, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to apply the vacuum technology to chanterelles,” she said.A lot of work also has to be done on the marketing and distribution side of things, she said.Samples were sent to many chefs from last year’s supply, and now she has to follow up with them. First she wants to make sure the co-op has some of this year’s chanterelle harvest dried and tucked away.