Interview with Kristine "Tina" Ellor

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  • Introduction
    Partial Transcript:
    Synopsis:
    Keywords:
  • Mushroom descriptions
    Partial Transcript: So, uh, do you want to start by telling us a little bit about what you brought with you today
    Synopsis: Ellor describes the several different types of mushrooms that she brought with her to the interview; she also discusses their individual health benefits and the several different ways to eat them.
    Keywords: agaricus bisporus; Cremini; ergothioneine; Golden Oyster; Maitake; Oyster mushroom; Pholiota nameko; Pioppini; Pleurotus ostreatus; Pompom; Porcini; Portabella; Royal Trumpet; Shiitake; White Button
  • Beginning in mushrooms
    Partial Transcript: Alright, what would you like to talk about?
    Synopsis: Ellor begins by explaining her lifelong interest in mushrooms and fungi that began as early as daycare when she was a child and talks about her "basement science experiments" that she conducted at home. She continued her interest in mushrooms by studying mycology in college at California State University, Stanislaus. She worked under Dr. David Gutelli and continued her studies in graduate school at the University of Maine under Dr. Dick Hammola and graduated in 1988. She started working at Oakshire Mushrooms for her first job after graduating with her Master's degree.
    Keywords: American Mushroom Institute; bioremediation; California State University, Stanislaus; career; Dr. David Gutelli; Dr. Dick Hammola; Dummerston, VT; Gary Schrader; graduate school; mycology; mycoloigist; Oakshire Mushrooms; Oyster Mushrooms; S.T. Chang; University of Maine
  • The aspects of modern mushroom research/personal research topics
    Partial Transcript: So it sounds like one of the big research interests in, um, in the time that you were doing your training
    Synopsis: Ellor reflects on some of the ways that mushrooms are being used as tools in bioremediation efforts as well as her involvement in that kind of work at Lambert Spawn Company and in the creation of biodegradable items such as shoe soles that are being developed out of Royal Trumpet mycelium at the University of Delaware. She began working at Phillips Mushroom Farms in 1995 where she now holds the title of Mycology Technical Director.
    Keywords: biodegradable; bioremediation; epigenetics; industrial mycology; Jill Silverman; Lambert Spawn Company; mycology; Phillips Mushroom Farms; Royal Trumpet mushrooms; spawn lab; Technical Director; University of Delaware; waste management
  • Research focus on ergothioneine and public health
    Partial Transcript: When was that, it sounds like, ergothioneine research has become sort of
    Synopsis: Ellor explains the importance of the amino acids ergothioneine and glutathione and the correlation that low levels of them in the blood have with various health issues. She explains that mushrooms naturally contain high levels of these amino acids; and promoting mushroom consumption should be treated more like a public health issue like it is in other countries outside of the United States.
    Keywords: amino acids; ergothioneine; glutathione; medicinal; public health
  • Where mushroom research is happening/research funding options
    Partial Transcript: I wanted to ask a little more about these, the kind of mushroom knowledge network I guess
    Synopsis: Ellor again speaks to mycological research and the places that research is happening, as well as the many associations and boards that fund and conduct said research. She compares the American devotion to mushroom research to the interest levels seen in other places such as Asia where mycological research is much more important to the general population.
    Keywords: International Society for Mushroom Science; Mycological Society of America; mycology; networking; North American Mycological Association; university funding; university research; World Society for Mushroom Products and Mushroom Biology
  • Mushrooms as medicine/publishing mushroom research
    Partial Transcript: I have a passionate personal interest in mushrooms as medicine
    Synopsis: Ellor describes her personal interest and passion in using mushrooms as medicine; she addresses her experience in using them and giving them to friends and family to help with cancers and other medical issues as well as the places that she goes to find and read this research.
    Keywords: cancer; COPD; health issues; medicinal mushrooms; research; Turkey Tail mushrooms
  • Early career path
    Partial Transcript: Can you tell me a little bit about your, um, I want to go back to kind of just walking us through a little more clearly
    Synopsis: She reflects on her early years in the mushroom industry during the years right before and after earning her Masters Degree. She mentions starting her family after graduation and moving to Pennsylvania. Ellor tells about how she came to Phillips to work in the first place and the innovation that was going on there at the time.
    Keywords: bioremediation; Chris Smith; Don Phillips; family; feminism; Jim Angelucci; Lambert Spawn Company; Marshall Phillips; mycology; Oakshire Mushrooms; Phillips Mushroom Farm; spawning; youth
  • Organics/agaricus bisporus growing process
    Partial Transcript: Um, we got certified organic in the 1997 so that's been a big part of what I do. I look after the organic certification
    Synopsis: Ellor explains how farm management is different for organic mushrooms like the ones that are grown at the Phillips Mushroom Farms. She explains the growing process for the agaricus bisporus mushrooms, or the most common mushrooms that are grown in soil.
    Keywords: agaricus bisporus; common mushrooms; farm management; growth; mushroom growing; organic agriculture; spawning; sustainability
  • Wood decay/organic mushroom growing processes
    Partial Transcript: Um, so you were going to walk us through um, the, the wood decay mushroom process
    Synopsis: Ellor moves on to describe the growing processes for wood decay mushrooms which grow differently than the previously addressed agaricus bisporus. She talks about how organic mushroom growing processes and materials are different from the other types as well.
    Keywords: growth; mushroom growing; organic; organic mushrooms; organics; wood decay mushroom
  • Working at Phillips Mushroom Farms
    Partial Transcript: I'd actually like to ask you a little bit more about the day to day work at Phillips.
    Synopsis: Ellor addresses some of the different experiments and growing projects that she has taken part of or managed over her years working at Phillips.
    Keywords: mycology; organics; Phillips Mushroom Farms; spawn; spawn lab; spawning; sustainability; Technical Director
  • How mushrooms differ from other crops
    Partial Transcript: I do spent a lot of my time now serving on boards of directors
    Synopsis: Ellor lists some of the different national boards of directors that she has served on in her lifetime as well as the importance of having a mushroom expert in the room for agricultural policy. She emphasizes that mushrooms are very much different from other crops and can't be blanketed under many agricultural policies so having a voice in the room is vital for the industry's success.
    Keywords: agriculture; National Organic Standards Board; Organic Materials Review Institute; organics; Pennsylvania Certified Organic Board; policy; regulation; USDA Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee
  • Spawning mushrooms
    Partial Transcript: Can you tell us a little bit about what goes on in a spawn lab?
    Synopsis: She explains the ins and outs of working in an industrial mushroom spawn lab and the production process for spawn such as the ones that she was growing at Phillips when she first began working there.
    Keywords: epigenetics; industrial mycology; Lambert Spawn Company; mushroom culture; mycologist; mycology; Phillips Mushroom Farms; quality control; spawn; spawn lab
  • Being a Technical Director at Phillips Mushroom Farms
    Partial Transcript: So tell us a little bit more about the ins and outs of the technical director position
    Synopsis: Ellor briefly describes her work as the Technical Director at Phillips Mushroom Farms and some of the public appearances that she frequently makes because of the position.
    Keywords: Phillips Mushroom Farms; Technical Director
  • Agricultural regulations
    Partial Transcript: Can you tell me a little bit about, since you're talking about what the regulatory environment looks like from the perspective of someone in the mushroom industry
    Synopsis: Ellor emphasizes again the importance of having a mushroom expert involved in agricultural regulations; food safety regulations for other fruits and vegetables will not necessarily apply to mushroom production and can destroy crops completely. She specifically speaks to regulating bacteria levels.
    Keywords: agricultural regulations; agriculture; bacteria; education; food safety; National Organics Program; organic; Pennsylvania Certified Organic; USDA
  • Mushrooms in Ellor's personal life/ being a woman in the industry
    Partial Transcript: I wanted to ask you a little bit as well about kind of your personal journey in coming here
    Synopsis: Ellor recounts how she found herself married into the local mushroom community through the sudden death of her first husband and remarriage into the Cordivano family. She explains a little bit about how she plays a part in the Cordivano family operation when they are shorthanded. Ellor then reflects on her experiences on being one of the only women involved in the mushroom industry; as of recent years the gender balance in the industry has gradually come to involve more women.
    Keywords: blended family; education; equality; farming; feminism; gender roles; inequality; Joe Cordivano; male dominated; marriage; mushroom farmer; mycology; remarriage; sexism; widow; youth
  • Labor and community changes
    Partial Transcript: Can you say a little bit about the, you touched on the labor force a little bit, can you say a little but about how that labor situation is changing?
    Synopsis: Ellor speaks to some of the changes that she has witnessed in the labor force over the years that she has been active within the industry and how immigration plays a role in labor deficits that frequently occur. She hints at a future where mushroom production may be moved offshore or mechanized to keep labor costs low or raising market prices in general. She also reflects on the mushroom farming community that she has married into and how exclusive it is.
    Keywords: community; Cordivano family; culture; family; fresh market; immigration; immigration laws; Italian; labor; labor changes; mushroom community; mushroom processing
  • Family farming/mushroom farming is especially difficult work
    Partial Transcript: Are these farms still by and large family farms and why do you think that is?
    Synopsis: Ellor explains why most of the mushroom industry is more of a family operation rather than a corporate one. She explains that the kind of work that is required to make mushroom farming successful is not the kind of labor or timing that fits into a corporate schedule.
    Keywords: corporate farming; family farm; family farming; industrial farming; team work
  • A lifelong passion for mushrooms
    Partial Transcript: I love the mushrooms. I love the mushrooms as an idea.
    Synopsis: Ellor speaks to her own personal passion and love for mushrooms and why she is so fascinated by them and how mushrooms have been a part of her life's story.
    Keywords: amateur mushroom clubs; amateur mycologists; hobby; marriage; medicine; mycologist; passion; wild mushrooms
  • Customer base and market for mushrooms
    Partial Transcript: I mean that brings up a question, actually, that I've been wanting to ask about the customer base and really about the market for mushrooms
    Synopsis: Ellor talks about some of the customer base that she has seen over the years as well as the increasing popularity of smaller, family farms who sell directly to restaurants and small markets, unlike at Phillips who supply larger scale businesses.
    Keywords: customer base; ergothioneine; family farms; farm to table; large growers; market demand; small growers
  • Personal mushroom consumption/collection
    Partial Transcript: How do you like to eat mushrooms?
    Synopsis: Ellor finishes by talking about some of the many ways which she enjoys mushrooms from the different supplements that she takes daily to some of the ways that she cooks with mushrooms for her family. She again reflects on the health benefits that can be gained from mushroom consumption; she talks about the difference between the United State's mushroom consumption and other countries.
    Keywords: cooking; foraging; homeopathic medicine; industry mycology; medicinal mushrooms; mushroom extract; mushroom supplements; Mycological Association of Washington D.C.; mycology; New Jersey Mycological Association; public health; recipes; wild mushrooms; Wood Ear