The new ’Shrooms on the Block'.
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Mushrooms
Credit: Laura Murray

The early days of the pandemic dragged on with the same banal routine: Zoom University, clocking an embarrassing amount of screen time, and unsuccessfully trying to convince my mother to enjoy natural wine. But then my Smallhold mushroom grow kit arrived. Soon, a clear bag of spore-filled gray sawdust tied up with one of my scrunchies was perched on my bathroom sink. Within a few weeks I had a massive, sculpturesque blue oyster mushroom–it was my Smallhold success story.

Smallhold, a specialty mushroom company founded in 2017, is shaking up the mushroom section of the produce aisle. What started out of a shipping container in Brooklyn five years ago is now growing 15 varieties of specialty mushrooms to sell in over 400 major retailers like Whole Foods and Central Market, supplying mushrooms to restaurants including Eleven Madison Park in NYC and Uchi in Austin, as well as providing grow-your-own mushroom kits for the fungi-curious. Smallhold is also spreading mushroom culture through high-tech "mini farms,"where mushrooms grow in climate-controlled shelving in grocery stores, restaurants, and bars.

"In our opinion, the giant and complex supply chain that exists for the mushroom industry does not enable any creativity in your varieties, in locality of the product, or in packaging," says Smallhold cofounder Andrew Carter.

There are thousands of species of edible mushrooms, but most grocery stores in the U.S.only carry a single variety: the button mushroom.The button's robustness makes it easier to ship across the country, and while it's perfectly fine, its ubiquity makes the mushroom shelf pretty uninteresting.

Carter believes in Smallhold's potential to change this by establishing local supply chains. Through their holistic approach to retail, sustainability, installations in bars and restaurants, and extension of the experience to at-home growers, Smallhold is redefining what mushrooms can mean in America.

Where to Buy

Find Smallhold's specialty mushrooms at Whole Foods and Central Market, or order one of their grow-your-own kits from smallhold.myshopify.com.