THE MUSHROOM CAMPS
In the forests of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, commercial Matsutake mushroom hunters erect makeshift campsites from tree branches, twine, and plastic tarps. These seasonal mushroom hunts draw together a uniquely American mix of Southeast Asian multi-generational families, rural counter culture folks, and Mexican migrant laborers. The forests are dotted with the skeletal outlines of abandoned shacks, weathered branches offering a faint reminder of a home from a previous hunt. Once picked, these Matsutake follow a grand trans-Pacific route taking them from the volcanic soil of Oregon’s foraging encampments to the cavernous import produce auction houses and street markets of Tokyo. In turn, the Matsutake is transformed from humble subterranean fungus to fetishized object, wrapped in fake pine fronds and wood grained stamped cardboard boxes. It is a broad journey that connects the hyper-local communities of two cultures and continents fueled by the insatiable appetite of global economic forces.