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Chester County Ag Council

Lori Harrison — Director of Communications at the American Mushroom Institute and Editor of Mushroom News

Avondale, PA


What is your educational background?

I have a degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland. I started my career as an aide to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, and then working in the association world for about 15 years, as Director of Communications for a variety of associations, including the American Insurance Association, The Beer Institute, the American Bus Association, along with a few others. Here at American Mushroom Institute, I'm the editor of Mushroom News, one of the longest-running ag publications in the country, as well as head of communications which include industry relations, advocacy communications, and more.

How did you start working in agriculture? Was it always your goal or did you discover it later in your professional journey?

I would say that the job led me to agriculture; and not vice versa. But I see that as a benefit. I bring a skill to the industry — maybe it's not from a farming background — but I can still contribute. I've learned a lot about mushroom growing — and still am learning — and even more about agriculture as a whole. The biggest point is that agriculture and farming needs such a wide variety of skills and jobs, just because you may not have a background in agriculture doesn't mean there's not a place for you.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about mushrooms or the mushroom industry?

Mushrooms have this mystery about them. We're seeing more and more focus on them in the media, but they do have a mystical quality to them. When it comes to how mushrooms get to people's plate, my guess is most people don't realize how intricate the growing process is for mushrooms — specifically commercial mushrooms. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't really know before I started working here! And, most people probably don't realize that just about every mushroom harvested in the U.S. is harvested by hand.

When it comes to nutrition — mushrooms are a superfood — packed with tons of vitamins. One fun fact is that a portabella mushroom has more Potassium than a medium banana!

What is your favorite mushroom dish?

Well, I always keep sliced brown mushrooms in my fridge — in a brown paper bag; they last longer that way — and throw them into scrambled eggs, sauces, ground beef…really anything. But I make a pretty good stuffed mushroom, I'll rarely pass up mushroom soup, and lightly breaded and fried oyster mushrooms are really good!

Read some of Lori's work and learn about the mushroom industry.