All my life I’ve farmed real mammals. I’m an expert in the snuffling, snouty, somewhat hairless kind. For 72 years tofu didn’t enter the district let alone the house. Then, in 2022, I woke up.
I woke up a tired man. I guess I was getting old, or something, but mostly I think it was a psychosomatic effect of being sick of chasing escaped pigs. When you’ve pursued rogue porkers all your life, you get sick of livestock bloody escaping. And fixing fences. When I retire, I’ll make sure I have a terrace outlook on a good, solid, pig-proof fence.
But I had one more venture in me. Enough pig farming was enough pig farming, but I reckoned there was a real opportunity in plant-based meat production. I sensed a gap in the market.
I dove into research. I tried it all: Quorn, Lightlife, Field Roast, Tofurky, Gardein. I tried seitan, soy, and mycelium proteins. I drove into town for vegan Thai and pulled jackfruit. I crossed borders for five-star teriyaki tofu and flew to Switzerland for the world’s leading no-pork pork belly. The look of sorrow on my wife’s face when she ate Sydney’s best-rated vegan pork vindaloo was what clinched it.
You don’t muck around with pork vindaloo. Not unless you know what you’re doing.
The plant-based community needed my help.
No more ‘facon’. It was time to get real. It was time to grow pigs. For my wife. For the children of tomorrow.
I won’t tell you how I did it. Let’s just say I convinced a certain mushroom’s DNA to replicate the appearance and texture of a prime porker (sans hair). A mate in Newcastle University’s bioengineering department gave me a hand.
Five years on, my fields are greenhouses and I grow pig shrooms out of used coffee grounds trucked in from city cafés. Apparently, the coffee grounds stop the greenhouses from releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere. Something to do with a circular economy.
Gas aside, Shroompork is a hit. It mimics pork perfectly, from French cuisine or curry to sizzling on the barbie.
That’s why I’m in the running for Australian of the year and the government wants to buy my recipe. Jamie Oliver messages me often and Prince Harry’s Instagram shows Archie munching on my signature pork patty.
At this rate I could retire and commission the world’s best fence. But you know, once a farmer, always a farmer, and I really do feel twenty years younger on all this plant food. A whole new world is open to me. I’m looking at growing prawns.
Then again, things have gotten complicated recently. I haven’t told anyone yet, because half the country’s restaurants are relying on my stock. But now it’s urgent.
You see, I recently rescued two real pigs to guard the greenhouses and I believe their snorts and snuffles encourage robust shroom growth. I’ve been known to grunt a bit at the shrooms myself over the years, but since Rocky and Delilah got here the pig shrooms have been growing twice as fast.
And they’ve started grunting.
I can’t pretend any longer. That really was the sound of glass breaking, and it really did come from the greenhouse.
Hundreds of mushroom piglets are streaming into the yard and down the driveway.
I bet they’ll get through the fence.