Mushrooms! Edible, Medicinal, Toxic Waste Decontaminate
Paul Stamets, talked about his discovery on how to use mushrooms to decompose toxic wastes and pollutants, catch and reduce silt from streambeds and pathogens from agricultural watersheds, as well as control insect populations, and generally enhance the health of our forests, gardens and bodies. “Mushrooms are deep reservoirs of powerful medicines and very helpful foods,” he said, noting out of the 14,000 species that have been identified, 200 are edible, 50 are medicinal, and 250 are psychoactive.
Fungi are a vanguard species (those that come into habitats first) and in the process of their growth they create downstream nutrient pathways that help other organisms, Stamets continued. Within a single cubic inch of soil can be one to eight miles of a fine thread-like network of mycelium that is part of the fungi, he explained. The largest organism in the world is the mycelial mat of a honey mushroom in eastern Oregon that is more than 2,200 acres in size and over 2,000 years old, he added.
Stamets detailed how oyster mushroom mycelium was used to breakdown oil saturated soil from 20,000 ppm to 200 ppm in only 16 weeks. After the Chernobyl disaster it was discovered that the mycelium of a mushroom called Hideous Gomphidius helped decontaminate radioactive cesium-137 from a large area of land, he reported. Stamets also shared a method for getting rid of common household insects using a green mold fungus called metarhizium, how mushrooms can be used to prevent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) of honey bees, and the medicinal uses of turkey tail mushrooms.