Mushroom sorting on an industrial scale (Havatec company video)
June 7, 2012 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Mushroom production line (Youtube)

Not part of the Science/Discovery Channel's 18-year series, "How it's made" which has neat features like this one on hot dogs (Youtube again).
posted by Listener (56 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This production line's got a beat you can dance to.
posted by obscurator at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2012

I really love these type of videos, even if they are hawking some commercial system. I find myself saying, "Ah, that's how they make that happen."

The mushroom video, though--did anyone else feel that the music was vaguely . . . menacing? especially toward the end at all the million mushroom invaders were loaded into their transport vehicles en route to a restaurant near you?

Just me, huh?
posted by miss patrish at 2:25 PM on June 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Needs a "havatec" tag. Havatec. I don't think that name will ever leave my head, now. Havatec, always. My partner. Every day, every week, every year.
posted by gilrain at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2012 [16 favorites]

Those workers on the line, presumably picking out debris and deformed mushrooms.

How the hell do they catch everything in time, and not end up with Lucille Ball chocolate factory disaster?

It looks like they're working flat out just to keep up.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:38 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like I'm on mushrooms again
posted by growabrain at 2:43 PM on June 7, 2012

But the can of mushrooms I bought says "Product Of China".
posted by caclwmr4 at 2:44 PM on June 7, 2012

It's like the Mr. Rogers episode where they go to the crayon factory, only in beige.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:46 PM on June 7, 2012

Just me, huh?

No. It was very reminiscent of the Trade Federation droid attack on Naboo. But with better acting and more suspense.
posted by secondhand pho at 2:46 PM on June 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

Of course it's menacing, this is just a run test for the full cloning effort of the Mi-go army. The stars are almost right.
posted by Iosephus at 2:47 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

All those cute little mushrooms bobbing along the production lines! They are almost too cute to eat, but I'd like a salad, a bowl of soup and a steak.
posted by Cranberry at 3:04 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

What's that? The education of the youth of Netherlands is declining in more than one way. I bet the employees working there wouldn't be able to identify a portabello. To make matters worse, the employees next to them probably wouldn't know, either.
posted by item at 3:08 PM on June 7, 2012

Wow. Quite possibly the best mushroom processing plant video set to club music I've seen this year!
posted by batou_ at 3:12 PM on June 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

It just amazes me that there is so much left for the cook to do after all this mechanization!
posted by Anitanola at 3:12 PM on June 7, 2012

Yes, item, I almost alluded to that myself, which then would have led inevitably to this.
posted by Listener at 3:15 PM on June 7, 2012

It's pretty amazing. In this age of local and artisnal, industrial agriculture is pretty remarkable. This is a great system for mushroom production, not so good for chicken harvest.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:52 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to play coed soccer in Lacey, WA at a field right next to Ostrom's Mushrooms' factory (should I bother me that I can't type "farm" instead of "factory" for this product?) and the only thing that could get the earthy, but very musty and pulpy, smell out of my nose was getting a cleatful of mud in the face. I am amused to know that Ostrom's tagline is "When you can't get sun, get mushrooms." Apt for the Pacific Northwest.
posted by weeyin at 3:55 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I found myself rooting for the mushrooms that were most resistant to the "automatically aligning the mushrooms" step, and cheering the very occasional one that slipped by in a nonstandard alignment.

Then I realized that I've officially taken effete western notions of rebellion and existential concepts of self-determination to their logical end, as of that moment. I'm starting over tomorrow as a conformist and seeing how that goes. Wish me luck.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 4:04 PM on June 7, 2012 [18 favorites]

In collaboration with Van Asseldonk Champignons
posted by underflow at 4:19 PM on June 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

In collaboration with Van Asseldonk Champignons
posted by underflow at 12:19 AM on June 8 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

Faved for making the exact same comment I was going to. :P

Anyway, cool video! Kinda reminds me of Koyaanisqatsi.
posted by Drexen at 4:24 PM on June 7, 2012

Self-link: Dear Monterey Mushrooms.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:52 PM on June 7, 2012

Agaricus Automaticus
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 4:56 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

So where do mushrooms stand in terms of (energy + money + time) in--> (calories + waste + co2) out? From the factory video it looks like they're a highly efficient way to convert stuff we can't eat into stuff we can eat. What foods' production is more efficient?
posted by rh at 4:59 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

First thought I had was, "Gentle! Those things are precious!"

Second thought I had was, "This reminds me of that Royksopp video. What's it called? Oh yeah. Remind Me."
posted by funkiwan at 5:10 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

rh, mushrooms are indeed very "green" to grow. They are also high in protein, contain all the essential amino acids and are an excellent source of vitamins. They can replace meat on Monday. Many claim they fight cancer, but it may be folk wisdom.
posted by stbalbach at 5:15 PM on June 7, 2012

Thanks, stbalbach. My real question is whether any food is more efficient to mass produce. Obviously they're more efficient than cows, but how does they compare to corn, sugar, etc?
posted by rh at 5:24 PM on June 7, 2012

Dance mushroom, dance!
Put that fungi spell on me
Sauté that mushroom, make it yummy!
posted by smirkette at 5:40 PM on June 7, 2012

Your question made me curious, too rh... before I spent any time looking up numbers, the first thing I did was take a glance a the nutrition data per 100 grams for mushrooms vs random foods I picked out off the top of my head.

(from wikipedia), nutrition per 100g

Mushroom - 4.1g of Carbs, 2.5g of Protein
Potato - 17.0g of Carbs 2.0g of Protein
Corn - 19.0g of Carbs, 3.2g of Protein
Carrot - 9.0g of Carbs, 1.0g of Protein
Cauliflower - 5.0g of Carbs, 2.0g of Protein

So to gain the same amount of energy as eating 1 serving of potatoes, you'd need to eat 4 servings of mushrooms. I can't see this happening, really. You'd get sick of it. Even carrots have more calories (sugars, they're sweet). I put Cauliflowers in as a comparison of a non-sweet vegetable.

As for "efficiency" at first glance I don't think this is an easily answerable question. I assume you're talking about cost efficiency. I'm not a scientist and I'm probably getting my terms wrong, but there's concepts of feedlot conversion efficiency (it takes 2kg of gain to produce 1kg of chicken meat) ... bioconversion efficiency (1% of sunlight falling on a corn plant turns into edible calories to humans)... both of which aren't useful in this context, because the "food" that the mushrooms consume isn't also consumable by humans, nor is it measurable like sunlight.

From a finance perspective however, I do believe (to some degree) that market forces, in the absense of subsidies, will more or less dictate that the final price to the consumer captures the totality of the cost of delivering the product. As a starting position, you could see how many calories you can provide yourself with $10 of mushrooms versus $10 of chicken / pasta / rice... it's not even vaguely competitive.
posted by xdvesper at 5:43 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I liked the mushroom-dozer at about the :40 mark. Wouldn't it be awesome to have one of those to drive around?
posted by scalefree at 5:45 PM on June 7, 2012

Also: badger badger badger badger MUSHROOM MUSHROOM!
posted by scalefree at 5:46 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fantastic cinematography on this. Look at the pans in these shots. I'm really loving the effort and enthusiasm that somebody put into the production. Great small details.
posted by Algebra at 6:08 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

how the fuck does one get into the mushroom-sorting-machine business, i wonder?
posted by facetious at 6:10 PM on June 7, 2012

Wow, cool!! I always wondered how they managed to make sure there were no bad/poison mushrooms in each container. Growing them in the factories where they're packaged, in a totally controlled environment, makes a lot more sense than whatever outdoor process I vaguely imagined taking place. Great post!
posted by limeonaire at 6:16 PM on June 7, 2012

There is a gigantic mushroom at 1:34. I wonder what happens to those behemoths, they have to make it to the very end of the sorting line.

sadly I really, really want to know
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:20 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I could watch mushrooms being automatically aligned in slow-mo all day.

It kills me that they align every freaking mushroom, only to jumble them up again.
posted by Kabanos at 7:08 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was thinking that too but I wonder if the scenes are out of order or something because that's followed by the stage where they cut the stems to a uniform length.

I could easily eat four servings of cooked mushrooms, it's just that it's too expensive because of the shrinkage when they're cooked.
posted by XMLicious at 7:17 PM on June 7, 2012

Every time I see a video like this, I always think to myself that industrial automation engineers are the unsung heroes of our modern age. Without them, all of us would starve.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:19 PM on June 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Whatever, Pennsylvania still has claim to the Mushroom Capital of the World.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:36 PM on June 7, 2012

Havatec: aligning your mushrooms so you don't have to.
posted by arcticseal at 7:45 PM on June 7, 2012

Odd, though, that the mushroom capital of the world is not in China:

Mushroom production - % of world output by country
Rank Countries Amount
# 1 China: 45.89 %
# 2 United States: 10.4 %
# 3 Netherlands: 6.86 %

posted by Listener at 7:46 PM on June 7, 2012

I've spent my available weekends since October mushrooming in California. I think this video requires additional context.

Mushroom hunting (for me) involves walking, very slowly, several steps at a time, and staring at the ground. Way off the beaten path, in areas that look like likely habitats using a combination of Google Earth and topo maps. Listening to birds, and the crunch of pine needles. Walking 50 yards can take 90 minutes.

This is so totally opposite, but I appreciate them both.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:49 PM on June 7, 2012

That track (“Air,” it turns out, the Anton Sever remix) is IN MY HEAD now. Damn, I'm afraid it's my new jam. I am become MycoViking.

It must be so fun to be in a position to design something like that, though. Mushroom alignment systems... whee!
posted by mumkin at 10:04 PM on June 7, 2012

All headed to Bonaroo, I assume.
posted by LordSludge at 10:30 PM on June 7, 2012

Well-engineered assembly lines are mesmerizing. As a very not-logical thinker, it all seems kinda like magic to me. Plus: mushrooms!
posted by memewit at 11:22 PM on June 7, 2012

In my youth, living in an agricultural area, I had a couple of holiday jobs working in places such as this. Though some jobs are not too bad (relatively) because there's an element of working at your own pace (cleaning out skips, loading boxes onto pallets... which I tended to get being a big bloke) working on the actual line itself is mind-numbingly boring and I never lasted long at that. So unfortunately these types of videos, interesting though they are give me horrific flashbacks.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:59 AM on June 8, 2012

If Smurfs had designed the final solution...
posted by londonmark at 5:32 AM on June 8, 2012

In collaboration with Van Asseldonk Champignons

The amazing thing to me about this video is that a) there is a large enough market to build a company solely devoted to the manufacture of automated mushroom equipment, and b) the market is large enough to support more than one company solely devoted to automated mushroom equipment.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:51 AM on June 8, 2012


van Asseldonk Champignons is the owner of the 'shroom factory where this video was shot.
posted by atrazine at 6:42 AM on June 8, 2012

I think we're far enough into this thread where I can mention the following without fear of a negative derail mushrooms are awful, just terrible "food" items. They're one of those weird love-em-or-hate-em things like mayonnaise (which I also hate with a fiery passion) and I fall firmly into the 'no, not ever ever EVER' category of consumers. It probably doesn't help matters in my case that I've got oral allergies and am allergic to some raw mushrooms, primarily those white ones that one sometimes finds sliced in salads. They make my mouth, throat, and worst of all the inside of my stomach itch terribly. Let me reiterate, though: it is not because of this allergy that I dislike the fungus.

Yes, I've tried all varieties, cooked in many different regular and exotic ways by folks who knew what the were doing. I just can't stomach the things. The worst are sandwiches made up of a marinated and grilled whole portobello on a bun. What a cruel trick. Equally terrible are veggie burger patties primarily made up of chopped mushrooms, because sometimes they can look like they'd be a delicious mushroom-free veggie burger and then BAM that unmistakable taste crawls down the throat.

I have a sneaking suspicion that they weren't put on this earth for sustainability purposes, but rather as a vehicle for psilocybin delivery and the non-psychedelic varieties are just some sort of mistake. Maybe I'll write a well-regarded paper about my hypothesis someday and settle this once and for all, because mushrooms are disgusting.

That said, that's a fun video of what I might imagine an average day in hell to look like.
posted by item at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm studying renewable energy engineering. In our control systems theory class, a classmate (who had recently visited a Ferrero plant) told me that automation in energy systems was child's play. If I want to go where the action really is, he said, I should go into food processing.

This video, and classics like this one tell me he is probably right.
posted by rhombus at 8:30 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

This video reminded me of childhood vacations. My father was an executive in the food processing and packaging industry. His first job out of college was on a tripe (!) canning line and he worked his way up the ranks over the years. To me, it seemed like a job you'd leave well enough behind on weekends and vacations. But, no. While the rest of you were sunning at the beach, camping out at a cabin in the mountains, or otherwise left to your own devices, I was visiting cheese factories, cranberry processing facilities, and dairy farms on my school breaks.

It was pretty damn cool, actually.
posted by medeine at 8:43 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

rhombus, that pepperoni loader is amazing, and needed by this unfortunate flower-loading machine catch-up worker. Actually, I don't know what her job is called, but it looks like it sucks, particularly by the end of the video.
posted by Listener at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2012

1) Was that graduated hole sizes thing resizing itself? That's pretty genius.

2) I assume the stems aren't discarded. Probably that's the stuff that ends up in mushroom soup and on frozen pizzas.

3) How can there be a world demand, let alone a regional one, for 12,000 kg of mushrooms per hour? Let's say a mushroom weighs about 10 g. That's 1.2 million mushrooms/hr. In 10 days, they harvest enough mushrooms to give one to every human being in the US. Whereas here in reality, 90% of people never eat mushrooms at all, 9% eat them only accidentally and the other 1% spend half their time eating mushrooms and the other half online, flaming people who don't like mushrooms.
posted by DU at 4:42 AM on June 11, 2012

Every time I see a video like this, I always think to myself that industrial automation engineers are the unsung heroes of our modern age. Without them, all of us would starve.

The other way to look at it is that industrial automation engineers (or the people issuing their orders) are the unremarked villians of our modern age. Without them, there wouldn't be so many of us that needed feeding.
posted by DU at 4:46 AM on June 11, 2012

"Wait, does this pizza have *mushrooms*?"
posted by DU at 10:03 AM on June 11, 2012

That link made me glad I checked RA today.
posted by arcticseal at 3:06 PM on June 20, 2012

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