Yanomami Mushrooms are the first edible mushrooms native to the Amazon rainforest to be introduced into the international market and are extremely popular with the top chefs of Brazil. They are the product of the ecological knowledge of the Yanomami people and the traditional Yanomami farming system. Hunters and gatherers, the Sanöma have a great knowledge about the biodiversity of their territory. The mix of mushrooms that comes to the consumer is the result of a deep knowledge of the ecology and the management of the forest, sometimes a source of protein, particularly when hunting is not very successful. It is this knowledge that feeds and keeps the forest standing.
The sale of Yanomami Mushrooms is part of an effort to ensure the Yanomami's wellbeing, both now and into the future. They are collected in the swiddens by the Sanöma groups of the Yanomami people in the region of Awaris, Yanomami Indigenous Land, in the mountain forests of the extreme northwest of Roraima, Brazil, along the border with Venezuela.
Sustainable Yanomami Agroforestry
Yanomami Mushrooms are a mix of more than 15 species of mushrooms, the product of a deep knowledge of the ecology and forest management. Knowledge that feeds and keeps the forest standing. The Yanomami prepare their gardens to promote the emergence of these mushrooms and permit the species found to even grow at all. Their major crop is cassava (manioc) which they grow year-round in a rotation system of slash-and-burn plots (swiddens) which involves identifying a conducive location, cutting down the trees and burning the dry ones. Very different from clear-cutting, this agroforestry system respects the forest and does not depend on any artificial inputs.
About three months after the cassava is planted, the mushrooms begin to appear on the fallen, charred logs that have not been completely burned, the source of sustenance for them. The plots are fallowed (uncultivated) after four years due to nutrient depletion, but as the abandoned plots reforest, all 15 edible species of mushrooms (Lentinus spp., Panus spp., Favolus brasiliensis, Polyporus tricholoma, Favolus striatulus, Polyporus alveolares, Coriolus zonatus, Trametes ochracea, Pleurotus sp., Pleurotus concavus, Favolus sp., Lentinula raphanica, Polyporus aquosus) sprout at once. In the Sanöma language, mushrooms have colorful names which reflect their shapes and appearance such as “tapir liver,” “deer’s ear,” “croc-croc” and “hairy anus.” Once harvested, the mushrooms are wrapped in leaves and taken to the villages. They are then dehydrated in the sun or with fire which gives them a smoky flavor.
Yanomami Mushrooms present offer absolutely unique and novel flavors. They have a pronounced flavor, with a lot of umami (one of the five basic tastes to the human palate). The flavor of some species is close to that of the shitake, while others are a little spicy, perfect for broths and risottos. Yanomami Mushrooms are so amazing that they attracted a lot of attention from famous, award-winning chefs such as Alex Atala of D.O.M. in São Paulo and Felipe Schaedler of Banzeiro in Manaus.