Is something organic if it is shipped across the country? What about the fuel that is used and how that affects our environment, not to mention the freshness of the food and a myriad of other factors. Over the last few years i have been reading everything i can get my hands on to help me answer these and other questions so sit back, relax and explore where my quest has taken me thus far.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Fungus Among Us

My mushroom class was really neat yesterday. I belong to a nice little co-op that puts on these great classes all the time. They are inexpensive and I really enjoy them. Yesterday was no different. Yesterday was MUSHROOM DAY!!! haha.

I only started to eat mushrooms in the past few years, I like them but know virtually nothing about them except for they are very tasty and can be deadly if you do not know hot to properly identify them when foraging. I learned so much yesterday, I barely know where to begin!

Let's start with the basics, the study of mushrooms is called mycology which would make the person who studies them (an expert in the field) a mycologist. A very well known mycologist is Paul Stamets, he has written many books and has a line of mushroom supplements on the market. I am sure there are many well known mycologists, our class was just not long enough to go over all of them!

The part of the mushroom that we see, the part that is above ground is the fruit while the part that is below ground is called the mycelium. I found the mycelium fascinating, it was even mentioned in class that there are studies which indicate that the mycelium is the network in which plants can communicate over long distances (some myceliums grow to be very, very large). How cool is that? it's like the tin can and string theory for nature. I plan to learn more about this mycelium.

Other fun facts about mushrooms are:
  • mushrooms are great filters and good for the environment
  • because they can soak up toxins and clean the earth you must be conscious about where your mushrooms are being cultivated and harvested, they toxins that they soak up will be super concentrated within the mushroom (bad for eating)
  • mushrooms work to stimulate our immune system to strengthen itself so that your own immune system can heal you (how cool is that!)
  • to get the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms they must be cooked, the nutrients are stored in the cell walls, heat will release this so that our bodies can use it
  • mushrooms are higher in protein than most other vegetables
  • certain types of mushrooms can inhibit histamines, lower cholesterol and even help diabetics regulate their glucose
  • there are studies going on which are indicating that certain mushrooms may be able to facilitate in cancer treatments.
  • if mushrooms are dried in the sun they have the ability to soak up additional vitamin D just like our bodies can!
  • mushrooms are beautiful, i saw pictures in some of the reference books that just blew my mind!

I learned about two mushrooms that i have never heard of. The reishi and the turkeytail mushrooms. I am more of a shitake girl myself but i definitely want to try different types now! These are just two out of probably hundreds or thousands that i do not know about, it looks like a whole new world is opening up to me here and I can't wait to explore it!

Below are some books that I learned about yesterday, i wanted to pass it along for anyone with an interest in learning more:

Myco Medicinals by: Paul Stamets
Mycelium Running by: Paul Stamets
Mushrooms for Medicine by: Greg Marley sells mushroom products and even growing kits

As I come up with recipes that incorporate these wonderful fungi's i will add them here for all to enjoy! If you have a great recipe that you want to share please let me know :)


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