If the Personal is Political, Then So is Food

(Source) Introduction Earlier this year, Mike Jozwik, the owner of Mushroom Mike LLC, discovered a method to consistently cultivate a corn fungus called Ustilago maydis after five years of experimentation. “Mushroom Mike” sees himself as a fungus expert, and is the mainstay edible mushroom supplier to most high-end restaurants from Milwaukee to Chicago to Madison. He’s in the process of creating a new business, which he is calling WiscoHuit LLC, specifically to sell U. maydis to restaurants and individuals. But Jozwik is far from the first person to discover U. maydis cultivation on this continent. The Indigenous peoples of central Mexico have been cultivating and consuming U. maydis since, food historians theorize, before Europeans ever arrived on the American continent. They call it “huitlacoche,” and it’s seen as a popular delicacy in Mexico, with over 400 to 500 tons of it sold in Mexico City annually. However, in the U.S., it’s called “corn smut” and seen as a destructive blight on corn crops, akin to a mold, that renders the underlying corn unsellable. As a result, it is relegated to harvests of fringe, seemingly “underground” farmers and restauranteurs. Because, as Jozwik points out, most genetically modified strains of corn have [read more]