Magic mushroom time!
..Not the Psychedelic, hippy-dippy-rainbow-swirl form, but the kind that does magically beautiful things for our planet and for us.
As an environmentally conscious soul, I decided over four years ago to give up meat. Mushrooms have given me tons of meat-free alternatives, from shroom dogs to mushroom burgers and did you know that Quorn is made from a particular type of fungus grown in oxygenated water tanks. Crazy, right!
But bigger than me, what we eat or my growing green values, there is a world of shroom-innovation.
There are communities of wonderful people who are devoted to mushrooms. These eco-minded individuals, otherwise known as mycophiles, make new discoveries with fungi every day.
I believe, and I have always felt for as long as I can remember, for no discernible reason (then), that the key to fix all problems on earth exists on earth. Now, I have found some research that supports this theory.
These humans, dedicated to the study and development of nature, like the mycophiles, are making great things happen, using what we have.
Nature is intelligent
There is a clever network communicating beneath our very feet. It is here, under the soil and below what we can see, that some pretty unbelievable things are happening.
A smart root system, with intelligence beyond a vegetable but contrary to the animal, connects thousands of different types of plants and mushrooms.
Where there is a mushroom on top of the soil, there is a mass of threads under the earth, otherwise known as a mycelium, with more channels than the human brain, however, working similarly, using electrical pulses to interact. This web-like system was here long before humans walked the planet and will be here long after we are gone.
A metre squared of forest can have trillions of mycelium, like millions upon millions of telephone wires, connecting and interconnecting one tree and plant to another. Research shows that plants can recognise their own kin through the mycelium entanglements, a support network if you will, letting the stronger and more established trees know that the weaker ones need their help. How awesome!
Rebirth. Regeneration. Rejuvenation.
Mushrooms are the start and the end of life. They will decompose dead and dying organisms and use them as part of the regeneration process. These fungi understand the language of nature like no other; they are a crucial part of our ecosystem.
While these organisms eat whatever falls to the forest floor, what comes from the end of this life, feeds the next, regenerating the soil, giving way to new life. But in addition to solving the global soil crisis, a disaster not as widely discussed as it perhaps should be, these Basidiomycota, another fancy word for some types of mushrooms, can also help us and the planet on a broader and equally significant scale.
A kingdom of knowledge
Research shows that these sometimes beautiful and bountiful fungi have helped to fight cancer. They have antibacterial and antifungal properties. They are the source of the original penicillin, a medicine that saved the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers in WW2.
Studies also show that their ‘fruits’ have shifted the signs of cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s or dementia), helping us unlock new parts of our brain while assisting people in combatting depression and mental health problems.
Whether or not you believe these dome-shaped creatures hold the key to good health is up to you. I’m not here to convince you; I’m just sharing knowledge and ideas. I’ll let you be the decider of their power.
I started taking notes for this article before mushrooms became a ‘hot topic’ over a year ago. But the push came as I began to explore on a deeper level how these mighty toadstools could be our answer to climate change, one of the biggest threats to the present world and our planet’s future.
The clever underground network I spoke of earlier could very well be our answer to tackling pollution and plastic waste.
Did you know that fungi can break down plastic, create a plastic alternative, clean up oil spills, and lower Co2 emissions, stabilising carbon in soil for thousands of years? It’s incredible how much these little shrooms, living in our back gardens or in the woods near our houses, can help restore balance on earth.
So, the next time you see a mushroom growing, take a second to appreciate this small multicellular organism. It may very well be the solution to a positive change in your life.
“There is beauty from the stars in the sky to the soil beneath our feet for those of us who take a moment to look.”
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