If you are interested in the world of alternative medicine, you may have heard of chaga. A mushroom native to the northern hemisphere and used as a folk remedy by generations of Alaskans and Siberians, chaga has been scientifically shown to improve immune system health, fight cancer, ease gastrointestinal problems, and much more. Because of the growing popularity of chaga worldwide, many individuals have made money by harvesting chaga and selling it to distributors.
Because chaga cannot be grown in a laboratory or farm setting—at least without destroying its nutritional value, the reason why people consume it—chaga vendors are reliant on individual harvesters who pick chaga from old-growth forests. Read on to learn how you can make money from this small-but-growing industry.
How to Sell Chaga Mushrooms
The most important thing when it comes to selling chaga is procuring the best product that you can harvest. This requires you to live in or travel to the regions of the world where the best-quality chaga grows. While chaga grows across a wide swath of the northern hemisphere, including as far south as Turkey and the Mid-Atlantic U.S., only chaga that grows in frigid climates such as Alaska and Russia is viable for consumption because warmer weather destroys the nutritional content in the mushroom.
In practice, this means that unless you live in or can travel to these locations, you cannot sell chaga commercially, as most chaga vendors will not accept chaga from other regions of the world. Following from this, it is likely not commercially viable to travel to these locations to pick chaga, as the cost of transportation will eat into your profit margins, especially when factoring in the remoteness of the forests you will need to go to in order to pick chaga.
This is another factor that you must consider: acquiring chaga from places that are as free from human development as possible. Chaga grows on the sides of trees, meaning that it absorbs anything that those trees absorb, including pollution. Air pollution is given off by any and all human development, including cars and buildings, meaning that chaga that grows near cities will have pollutants in it. These pollutants can harm people when consumed, so in order to ensure you can sell your chaga, you will need to harvest it from places that are as removed from civilization as possible to ensure that it is pure and clean.
When harvesting chaga, you will also need to do so during certain times of the year. Chaga mushrooms must be harvested during the winter and late fall, when trees have gone into hibernation and are no longer running sap. The reason for this is because running sap results in the vast majority of chaga’s nutrients being flushed out. The necessity of harvesting chaga during the winter from arctic locales means you will need to prepare accordingly with regards to clothing, equipment, transportation, and the like.
Prior to sale, chaga must be cleaned and dried out. Some unscrupulous chaga merchants will try to sell chaga that still contains water, or will actively rub chaga in dirt and mud, both of which will make the chaga weigh more and allow them to fetch a higher price. However, chaga that is unclean runs the risk of containing contaminants that can harm people who use it, while chaga that is not dried out after collection is likely to develop mold. Both of these things will lead to your chaga being rejected for sale, so you should make the effort to clean your chaga off and then dry it prior to offering it.
Many chaga vendors offer a list of guidelines, rules, and best practices for prospective chaga sellers. If you are interested in selling chaga to a particular vendor, check their website for more information. Reputable chaga vendors will put their chaga through a quality assurance program, ensuring that it is clean, pure, and safe to consume by their customers. By knowing in advance what a chaga vendor is looking for, you will ensure that they will purchase what you have collected.
Chaga is a business that is guaranteed to grow in the years to come, as more and more people discover the benefits of this wondrous mushroom. As chaga sales increase worldwide, more and more chaga vendors will be looking for harvesters to keep them well-stocked. If you have the willingness and know-how, you can take advantage of this by picking chaga and selling it yourself.
Harvesting chaga is an easy-to-learn but difficult-to-master process requiring you to travel to distant forests and take special care to clean and prepare your product prior to sale. However, if you aren’t deterred by its upfront costs, selling chaga is a great way to make some additional money. Don’t forget that you can also keep some of the chaga for your personal use.