‘Dropping’ knowledge on Pa. Farm Show recycling: Where does it go?

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- If you've ever walked through the stables at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, no doubt you've sidestepped a backside surprise from one of the many animals.

While the farmers are the unsung heroes of the 8-day event, making sure their stalls and walkways are clear, do you ever wonder where it goes after it's wheeled outside?

It turns out, the animal's digested lunch is more important to Pennsylvania's agriculture than you may realize.

Mostly, animal droppings are used for manure, which helps soil fields. In some instances, horse and chicken poop is used to fertilize one of the state's greatest exports: Mushrooms.

The mushroom's popularity is evident by the line at the mushroom stand inside the Farm Show Food Court.

Scott Schreffler of Lewisberry had no shame in hiding his love, holding fried mushroom poppers and three bowls of mushroom soup around lunch time Wednesday.

"I don't know why, but they do taste good," Schreffler said. "From humble beginnings where they come from..."

As it turns out, horse and chicken manure isn't used as often for mushroom growing anymore, according to Pennsylvania growers Andrew Ciuffetelli and Doug Taylor. When it used, the fresh manure is pasteurized at 145 degrees Fahrenheit to make it safe for fertilizing.

"It's not as readily available," Ciuffetelli says of the manure to mushroom transition. "Most places are going to sawdust, which we don't recommend. So we like to lean on straw and hay."

When manure is used, Taylor added, "It is 100% pasteurized so there is no worry of any bacteria harmful to your body."