It’s hard to ignore fungi in the mainstream in 2022. There’s a lot of buzz about their extensive list of health benefits and astounding ability to yield a vast array of resources ranging from food to beverage, medicine, clothing, paper, construction materials, cleaning products, packaging, biofuels and countless others. Some of the most mentioned fungi in the mainstream today are Reishi, Cordyceps, Lions Mane, Maitake, Chicken of the Woods, and perhaps the most widely recognized and controversial- Magic Mushrooms, known for their active compound Psilocybin which produces psychedelic effects when ingested.
One thing most people don’t realize is that just as there exists a plant kingdom and animal kingdom, mushrooms too have an entire kingdom of their own and are actually more closely related to humans and animals than plants. Amazingly, scientists have discovered that animals and fungi share a common ancestor and branched apart from plants sometime around 1.1 billion years ago. Taxonomically speaking, it wasn’t until much later that animals and fungi took their separate paths.
One thing is certain and that is that fungi have been here on Earth a long, long time, a lot longer than human beings so I think they know what they’re doing. What is now bringing humans back in contact with their long-lost fungi-family is their versatility, and non-intrusive, non-destructive ways of co-existing beside their neighboring earthly inhabitants. People are realizing that what they love about mushrooms is, well.. everything! They can be cooked into a gourmet delicacy, they can create beautiful artwork, they inspire creativity, they can be used in medicine and therapy, they can clean up oil spills, produce clothing, the list really just goes on and on. It’s hard to NOT appreciate the magic of fungi.
For many of us mush-lovers, our fascination with fungi can quickly turn into a desire to grow our own mushrooms! Thankfully there are many ways this can be done and many options and products that are available on the market. Depending on your confidence level and knowledge base you can do one of two things. You can either A) If you have little to no-knowledge; purchase a full mushroom grow kit that includes an instructional guide and all the required tools. Or B) If you understand the life cycle of fungi and possess at least a bit of knowledge about the growing process, you could buy the bits and pieces to create your own unique setup - which would likely save you some cash but will also cost you time and energy and possibly some frustration.
Fungiculture really is a balance between art and science. In order to be successful, you need to pay attention to the details as much as a painter working on a great masterpiece, and as much as a scientist working in a laboratory. The process must be clean, and carefully planned, observed over time, all while making tweaks and adjustments as needed, to be sure our fungi-friends are getting everything they need to thrive, so they can in turn give us everything that WE need to thrive.
Humans and fungi can truly have a symbiotic relationship with each other if we only allow them into our lives and give them a chance, and more and more people are realizing this every day. Fungi has taken and continues to take a silent stand in the world, as they display their beauty, astonish our minds, clean the environment, heal the sick, satisfy hunger, all without asking for a single thing in return. How many life forms out there can say THAT?!
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