Mushrooms are quite a peculiar fungus. The term originates from the French word "mousseron", in reference to moss. The ones we consume are generally composed of a stem, a cap, and gills. They don't grow leaves or roots. They don't reproduce via seeds. And they don't even need light to sprout or be cultivated. That is why you often find them in the shade under the trees, in a moist and humid environment.
Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. Some scientists claim humans and mushrooms might share a common ancestor... One of the most fascinating facts related to mushrooms is their communication network that relays and exchanges information. This "natural internet", also called "wood wide web", channels data beneath the Earth in the form of electrical pulses.
Many mushrooms decompose organic matter into nutrients to enrich the soil they grow on. Some can even break down plastic! Keep in mind that mushrooms are a natural pesticide that can save you a lot of money on chemicals. Furthermore, Oyster mushrooms are carnivorous. Wait does that mean vegans cannot consume them? What about the Laetiporus mushroom that grows on trees and tastes like chicken?...
More than 50 species of fungi are bioluminescent, i.e. they glow in the dark. It might be to attract insects that can help scatter their spores and hence make them reproduce. Mushrooms can create their own "airflow" by allowing the moisture to evaporate and, in such, create a little "lift" for the spores to be spread around.
Poisonous mushrooms are sometimes named toadstools. This denomination is attributed to colorful fungi that can be lethal, such as the deathcap mushrooms. Magic mushrooms, psilocybin, can cause lasting change to the brain functions and some studies are being conducted to test their impact as a treatment for depression, addiction, and other mental health disorders. In the mean time, micro dosing on psychedelic mushrooms has been proven to enhance mood, creativity, and focus.
Fresh mushrooms are low in carbs, rich in antioxidants, and an important source of protein, fiber, and nutrients. These superfoods can even contain vitamin D! If you want to know more about the superfood details, read my previous article on the subject here. Certain mushrooms such as turkey's tail, lion's mane, chaga, cordyceps, and reishi are known and popular anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting remedies. If you wish to grow your own mushrooms or just take care of your health, Mushies in Lebanon provides ready-to-use kits and powder bags that you can order from their website here.
Happy foraging 🍄