Mushrooms Continue Their Healing Work on the Planet

We recently mentioned the grow your own mushroom kits two Berkeley students are successfully marketing as one of our top 10 picks at the recent Natural Food Product’s Expo. Here is a story on the latest use of mushrooms to help heal our planet.

In toxic waste sites “so steeped in oil, dioxins, and other chemicals that hardly anything can grow on them,” fungi have become part of a plan for accelerated clean-up, reports Michael J. Coren for Fast Company. Under the guidance of Mohamed Hijri, a biologist and professor at the University of Montreal, a few of nature’s heavy-hitters will be introduced to such sites to work their magic. First, willow trees will be planted densely to absorb heavy metals. The trees will then be burned, their ashes used as food for fungi and bacteria able to metabolize petrochemical waste. Fungi selection is still underway, but has a big payoff. A process that might have taken hundreds of years (or longer) can be accomplished in just a few.

Discovery of the beneficial uses of mushrooms is not entirely new. Mycologist Paul Stamets has been working to bring awareness to the possibilities for decades. He made major breakthroughs in 2008 with his TED talk, “Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world” and acknowledgement from Utne Reader, which named him one the 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World. Looks like his ideas have spread, taking shape in inspiring new forms.