A couple of weeks ago I received an email from BTTR Co-Founder Nikhil Arora in response to my earlier
blog entry about his company's product claims. While claiming to take my "experience" seriously, as you can see for yourself,  he does not even acknowledge the central point of my piece, let alone address it.

The piece was not just about an experience. It explained how extremely unlikely it is that anyone would ever get a pound of mushrooms from a package with so little mass of substrate. It contained facts, which he chose to ignore.

I responded with a scolding. His obliviousness and irresponsibility struck me as juvenile, and completely inappropriate from someone representing a "socially responsible" company, so a scolding seemed in order.


I have received no response, and their web site now claims that their kits can produce "up to 1 1/2 lbs in 10 days."

For the technical reasons I detailed previously I do not believe anyone has ever had a yield of that magnitude from one of their kits. I would be genuinely fascinated to learn any actual facts that would prove me wrong.

If, after reading my original post, you think Nikhil's email (below) is an appropriate response, I would very much like to know why you think so.

Here is Nikhil's email, which has the subject "Thank you for your feedback!"

Hi Owen,

 

Just saw your post, and appreciate your feedback - we really take your experience seriously. We want people to enjoy the experience and the mushrooms, and are looking to raise awareness overall about fungi by making it fun & easy.

We've seen some really incredible results with our kits and have seen great customer satisfcation, but are also always working to make things more consistent/even better!

It'd be great to even see if we can find ways to work together - as we're all working towards the same mission of empowering people to learn, enjoy, and grow mushrooms!

We came across this our last semester in school. It's been a whirlwind mycological ride since then learning so much, and we're excited to hear from you as well. Let us know if your even in the Bay Area as we'd love to meet up!

Best,
Nikhil

--
Nikhil Arora
Co-Founder, Back to the Roots

 Here is my reply:

Nikhil

 

Thank you for writing. I would have preferred it if you had actually sent something that addressed the substance of my comments rather than this content-free happy talk. I basically accused you of lying to your customers, and you completely failed to address that. I find that troubling.

Your web site now claims your kits will produce
  • Up to 1 1/2 lbs per crop (pearl oyster mushrooms)
  • Multiple crops (at least 2, though some have got up to 4!)

which I still consider absurdly exxaggerated. Saying that your customers have reported these results, or that you have great customer satisfaction, does not absolve you of the responsibility of substantiating your own claims, especi ally when they exceed known limits. Nor does saying "It's been a whirlwind mycological ride since then learning so much" excuse you for making false claims. You claim to have grown thousands of pounds of fresh mushrooms. Didn't you learn anything about what it takes to produce one pound?

Take responsibility. Prove me wrong. Provide some concrete evidence, publicly, that people can do with your kits what no one else can do, or change your claims. An ethical person could do nothing else.

In order to help further our shared goal of empowering people "to learn, enjoy, and grow mushrooms," I intend to make this, and any other correspondence with you, public.

Thanks again.

Owen Tallman, owner
The Imaginary Farmer LLC