December 26, 2016

"When most people think of a mushroom, they think of a soft-tissue cap sprouting from the ground."

Salon: But a more correct way to understand mushrooms is to think of them as the fruiting body (e.g., an apple) of the fungus, and the fungus as the larger organism (e.g., an apple tree) that produces the mushroom. by Samuel Blackstone

'The mushroom serves as the reproductive part of the fungus, while the fungus below, in the form of threadlike branches called mycelium, absorbs water and nutrients for food. Thus, what you see above the ground and probably picture when you hear the word mushroom is really only a small part of the overall fungus. It is within this fungus below, the mycelium, where much of its value and potential lies.

'Around 3 billion years ago, before plants or animals existed, fungi and mushrooms covered the earth, paving the way for more complex organisms and eventually humans to evolve. But up until 1959, there was no scientific distinction between fungi and plants (now there’s an entire “Fungal Kingdom”). Forgotten and hidden in the shadows, our knowledge of and appreciation for their importance in Earth’s history and ecosystems were stunted. So too was our understanding of fungi’s vast potential. And while new literature and a grassroots movement/network are working to change the narrative, led by people like Peter McCoy, who explores the extensive history, science, applications and potential of fungi in “Radical Mycology: A Treatise On Seeing & Working With Fungi” (and is the founder of Radical Mycology, a website/network with annual conferences for amateur mycologists), there’s still a long way to go.

'“They’re completely off our radar,” McCoy told Salon over the phone last week. “We don’t talk about, think about, learn about, see them on TV, read about, hear about them at all. It’s easy to dismiss them and forget about them, not put much thought into it…. It’s my duty, and a lot of people I work with, to transcend that state, that knowledge gap in our culture.”'

Radical Mycology by Peter McCoy

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