Mushrooms are taking over the world. Mushroom mycelia networks, underground branched structures of hyphae that make up the vegetative formation of fungi, can stretch for miles—one particular mycelia growth in Oregon clocks in at approximately 2,400 acres. And these vast organisms show great promise in the industrial field. Sue Van Hook would be the first to tell you that mushrooms are not just a passing foodie fad: “Our western world phobia with mushrooms is over… mushrooms will increase as part of our diets, as part of our medicine chests, as part of our bee hives, and as restorers of habitats.”
Sue, a graduate of Humboldt State University with an M.A. in Biology, has been enmeshed with nature since her early childhood. “I was fortunate as a young child to spend my summers on a Maine island.” There, she found herself doing everything from working on a lobster boat with her grandfather, to digging clams, to playing in tide pools—anything to keep her out of the house and in-tune with nature.
That early love of nature translated itself into a life of investigation and observation centered on fungi. “As a scientist, I have spent 4 decades making observations, asking questions, and testing those questions by collecting and analyzing data.”
Sue pursues natural forms of healing, partially as a result of her past battle with breast cancer: “While undergoing treatments for 9 months, I knew I had to heal my immune system response. To do that, I turned to meditation, herbal supplements, plant essential oils, and medicinal mushrooms… The healing plants, fungi, and arts are ancient ‘knowns’ used and practiced for four to five thousand years. The access to them has been retained by indigenous cultures, but denied and suppressed by big pharma. While I am grateful for the chemo drugs I had to kill cancer cells, I also am aware the same company that poisons our ecosystems with pesticides making us sick, cashes in at the other end selling chemo drugs.”
This combination of pharmaceutical drugs and indigenous medicinal practices is a result of Sue’s relentless pursuit of investigation, experimentation, and reconnection with nature. And that natural love of inquiry has led her to her current work with Ecovative design.
Ecovative Design: The Industrial Application of Mushrooms
Ecovative Design is a mushroom-focused company that produces various materials composed of mushroom mycelium and agricultural waste, such as husks and stalks.
Sue’s role at Ecovative is as Chief Mycologist—she is responsible for procuring strains of mushrooms from the wild, and for educating all employees about the ins-and-outs of cultivating and researching mushrooms.
In short, the mushrooms cultivated at Ecovative digest agricultural waste and produce a strong support material that can be used in packaging, among other areas. Sue mentions that “…we have already replaced plastic styrene foam packaging and replaced carcinogenic resins in particle boards for furniture and building materials.”
Sue is passionate about the impact that mushroom materials could have on industry. As she states, “The current markets pay nothing for the ecological and health costs of their products’ entire life cycle: carcinogenic toxic styrenes.” At present, there is no accountability for the long-term disposal of certain products, such as styrofoam packing peanuts. And there’s a reason for that: “Plastics are cheap because they are made of petroleum that is heavily subsidized. If we chose to subsidize agricultural crops and mycelium, folks would be lining up down the street to become an Ecovative customer.”
In addition to the packaging materials mentioned above, Sue mentions that “We grew a mushroom insulated tiny house. We have replaced plastic foams used for art and architecture installations and surfboard cores, hand planes, and drones. We have replaced foam used in dried floral arrangements. We replaced plastic foam buoyant rings used to launch NOAA’s climate change/tsunami detection devices.”
At this point, the sky isn’t even close to the limit for Ecovative’s potential: “Within the next decade, we will replace plastics used in marine fisheries and dock flotation, pursue wetland revegetation restoration, replace toxic bromide flame retardants in seat cushions, door and wall panels, headrests and bedding for cars, planes, trains, and boats.”
The promise of mushrooms in undeniable. The trick will be convincing the world to return to nature when major industries lobby for continuing the status quo.
Bio for Will Klinedinst: Will dabbles in a little bit of everything: marketing, writing, sleeping, eating, powerlifting, musing, arguing, sleeping, and burning in the sun. He's a storied cynic and a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania. He works in marketing in Lititz, PA, and can quote Robin Hood: Men in Tights by heart. Follow his ramblings at willklinedinst.com!
Gary Lincoff, 2013
When your back is giving out
And your toe’s inflamed with gout
And you haven’t slept a wink since who knows when…..
When meat has lost it flavor
And sex has lost its savor
And you’ve tried everything from A to Zen.
When summer’s like December
And you no longer remember
What it was you used to like on your plate
It’s time to take some action
To get yourself some traction
And be the one in charge of your own fate.
To all questions there’s but one answer
From love complaints to cancer
One solution to ward off certain doom
It’s not animal or vegetable
Not mineral, myth, or fable,
Just the little kingdom of the ‘shroom
Yes, the shroom’s the solution
From deadly sin to absolution
For everything you’ve ever wanted done.
For diet, a no-brainer,
For gluttony, a trainer -
A way to have it all while having fun.
I’ve got ‘shrooms to keep you healthy
And some to make you wealthy
And some in a beauty cream for your face.
I’ve got mushrooms for your dreaming
And some to get you beaming
Out to distant galaxies in space
I’ve got truffles for the ladies -
Guaranteed to drive you crazy,
And Cordyceps for you guys
For both stamina and size…
I’ve got Bear’s Heads and Turkey-tails
For a treatment that never fails,
I’ve got chaga for arthritis
And Reishi for phlobitis
Something to cure each and every condition.
I’ve got wood-ears for blood flow
For curbing strokes, don’t you know?,
Shrooms for cluster headaches,
And depending on how much you take
A catalyst for your every ambition
Come one, come all,
Please don’t disregard this call –
Name your poison or your passion
These ‘shrooms are never out of fashion –
If they’ll cure what ails the earth -
Get ‘em now for all they’re worth.
Now’s the time to live forever
In the present tense, and never
Never follow any sacred cow…..
Be here in body and in spirit,
Be the life as you would live it,
Begin anew, begin again – and be here - NOW!
Here are our Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Telluride Mushroom Festival----Feel free to comment with your favorite reasons---let's get the list to 100!
10. For a small town it has a great food scene from the high end and gourmet La Marmotte to getting Baked in Telluride every morning.
9. You get to make new friends and see old ones and bond around fungi.
8. You don't get any strange looks carrying around a basket of mushrooms. The only size competition is around your boletes.
7. The biggest arguments are around taxonomy and common names; not politics and religion.
6. You can surround yourself with hundreds of mushroom books and meet the authors at Between the Covers. booth.
5. Shouting "We Love Mushrooms" at random times is expected and is a battle cry.
4. You get to hug Art Goodtimes and hear his infectious laugh.
3. You walk down the street, there's a mountain. You turn to the right, there's a mountain. You close your eyes, there's a mountain.
2. Mushrooms are turned into icecream and beer at the highly competitive Culinary Cookoff
1. Gary Lincoff's keynote will confirm your stance that mushrooms can make the world a better place.
I AM THE VERY MODEL OF AN AMATEUR MYCOLOGIST
By Gary Lincoff, updated 2014
I am the very model of an amateur mycologist,
And often tend to think myself a good agaricologist.
I know mushrooms that are good for you and others that are magical,
And how to tell the good from bad and bad from worse and tragical.
I’m very well acquainted too with matters microscopical,
I understand cystidia, both pleuro and dermatical.
In mushroom cultivation, too, I claim as well to know my share,
With many secret formulae for growing mushrooms in thin air.
I’m very good at doing taxonomical analysis.
I know the scientific names of mushrooms that are poisonous.
In short, if you’re in need of a good agaricologist,
I am the very model of an amateur mycologist.
I know the names and dates of all our eminent mycologists,
And who discovered who with whom, and who got slapped and who got kissed,
And who knows Latin well enough to know the latest idiom,
And the idiots who can’t even tell their ascus from basidium.
I know who stole what from whom, and who once fixed a club election,
Who stomps on others mushroom finds and who once ate a type collection.
I know who’s named what and who’s had mushrooms named after them,
And who the mushroom splitters are and their every evil strategem.
All these things and more I know, and now of mushroomers I sing,
Of the ins and outs and ups and downs and goings on in Fairy Rings.
In short, if you’re in need of a good agaricologist,
I am the very model of an amateur mycologist.
I read the latest articles on DNA taxonomy.
I know the clades and trees of molecular phylogeny.
I know that without sequencing a mushroom’s just a ru(o)mer,
And that some pros, alas alack, lack any sense of hu(o)mor.
So I never joke about their fundamental paradigms,
Like whether lost or found – or shifting like the sands of time.
It’s crucial to hold on to some shred of credibility,
By not conflating sequencing with premature senility.
To keep a foothold in both camps is good –
To broker peace in our myco-neighborhood.
In short, if you’re in need of a good agaricologist,
I am the very model of an amateur mycologist.
If friendship is a dark path
Through dense trees on a moonless night
And if words are footsteps
One at a time over unseen ground
And if candy cap ice cream
Drowning in chanterelle brandy
Is the magic potion
Then count me in
Ellen Metrick 8.18.2011
Telluride Mushroom Festival August 2011
We'd love to add YOUR poetry to our blog. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We saw this infographic on mercola.com and had to share it!
Mushrooms are packed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide outstanding health benefits. Discover more about this emerging superfood through this infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website.
Gary Lincoff IS the Telluride Mushroom Festival and embodies what makes this festival so great. Whether he is banging a drum in the parade, expertly identifying the random mushroom (or thing you thought was a mushroom but was really a stick) you bring him on a foray, delivering a brilliant and thoughtful keynote, sharing a mushroom song, or explaining the latest science news from mushroom underground, Gary provides all festival attendees with the true Telluride experience.
Gary is the only person (to my knowledge) that has attended the festival EVERY SINGLE YEAR since 1981. When you attend this year's festival, make it a point to go on a foray with Gary, or even just say "hi". And be sure to catch his talk---you'll leave inspired to be an amateur mycologist!
Gary Lincoff teaches mushroom identification and plant science courses year-round at the New York Botanical Garden. Gary attends as many forays and gives as many lectures as his teaching schedule permits. Each weekend of the year that he's home (NYC), even over winter, he is conducting a mushroom survey in the parks of New York City with the New York Mycological Society. Much of what they are doing is available on his website: Garylincoff.comis the author or editor of several books and articles on mushrooms, including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. . Among many other publications, Gary has written the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, The Complete Mushroom Hunter, and the Joy of Foraging. He has co-led mushroom study tours to over 30 countries on every continent except Antarctica. He is one of the co-founders of the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and has attended every annual foray since its inception in 1981.
This year's Telluride Mushroom Festival is pleased to have Eugenia Bone as one of this year's keynote speakers. Learn more about Eugenia below, and be sure to catch her at this year's Telluride Mushroom Festival!
"Mushrooms are the window by which I came to understand nature in a deeper way." - Eugenia Bone
From Eugenia Bone's Website
For twenty years my main focus as a writer has been food. My stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country, from The New York Times Magazine to The National Lampoon, in Saveur, Food & Wine,Gourmet, Fine Cooking, The Wine Enthusiast, and Martha Stewart Living, among many others.
I have published recipes in Saveur Cooks (Chronicle Books, 1998), Saveur Cooks Italian, The Food & Wine Cookbook 1999 (and again in 2006), and my food writing has been anthologized in Food & Booze: Recipes and Ruminations for the Literary Mind (Tin House Books 2006). I wrote the introduction to the paperback edition on Pierre Franey’s A Chef’s Tale. I also write a blog, Well-Preserved, about food preservation and the ecosystem of the kitchen, for the Denver Post. I lecture sometimes, teach occasionally, and perform demonstrations on preserving and mushroom cooking, in venues like the Museum of Natural History, the Denver Botanical Gardens, and the New York Botanical Gardens.
My first book, At Mesa's Edge, was about restoring a ranch in Western Colorado, and the terrific food scene I encountered there. It was nominated for a Colorado Book Award. My second book, Italian Family Dining, was written with my father, artist and cookbook author Edward Giobbi, and focused on the way Italian eat: small servings of seasonal foods in courses. My third, Well Preserved, a collection of preserving recipes and how to use the preserves, was nominated for a James Beard Award and made it onto numerous “Best Books” lists. But now, withMycophilia, I’ve written about science.
That might seem incongruous, but in fact, recipe writing and science writing are not totally dissimilar: both require very precise thinking and evocative language. It took me years to understand the science (I was not a biology major, not by a long shot) and to navigate the erudite and eccentric community of professional and amateur mycologists, but producing Mycophilia has been the most profound writing experience of my career. Mushrooms turned out to be the window by which I came to understand nature in a deeper way.
I got into mycology through my culinary interest in mushrooms, but over the years I became more and more interested in the grace and mystery of the biology of fungi. I also found huge satisfaction in the kinship of fellow mycophiles. This year I became the co-president of the New York Mycological Society, a group founded by the composer John Cage fifty years ago, and still going strong. It is a delight to be involved, and yes, there are lots of mushrooms growing in New York City!
Mara is the volunteer coordinator for this year's Telluride Mushroom Festival. Additionally, Mara will be giving a presentation on women in mycology! We're so thankful for Mara's organization and oversight of the volunteer program and are extra excited about a history lesson on all the groundbreaking mycology work being done by women. Make sure to check out her blog where she interviews female leaders in the field.
“As you think, so shall you become.”
There is a lot of discussion in mycological and activist communities about utilizing fungi to clean up toxic pollution in the physical environments that surround us. One example of how fungi do this is by growing their hyphae (the branching filaments that make up the mycelium of a fungus) into a polluted area, where they “transform organic matter into fresh healthy soil, contributing to the carbon and nitrogen cycles of the earth and creating life out of death in the process” (for more info on this, Radical Mycology provides a great overview of mycoremediation and the fungal life-cycle).
Beyond embracing the natural processes of fungi, plants or other organisms to clean-up pollution found in the environment, it is important that we (as active human contributors to pollution) learn how to heal our own toxic environments, whether they be emotional, spiritual or physical in nature. In this way, we can learn how to navigate our lives more mindfully, prepare ourselves to respond to positive and negative events more effectively, and build healthy, lasting relationships with the human and non-human people that make up our collective ecosystems. By working towards these or similar goals, we can together address the foundation of our actions that enable us to perpetuate toxic behaviors within ourselves and our communities, and transform them into healthy and life-nurturing ones.
Utilizing the model of how mycelium grows into an area and transforms organic matter into nutrition, I propose that we can map the toxicity found within our own bodies and allow the mycelium to transform us. Below you will find an activity that I call the Mycelial Mat of Healing. With few materials needed and easy to follow step-by-step guidelines, I hope this activity opens up a new way of thinking and exploring your personal healing process.
Please remember that the healing process is unique to everyone. You can adapt what you find below to fit your own needs. Moreover, this activity can be short or long; the details are all up to you! Most of all, just enjoy the time that you do spend with this activity and please share any feedback you have with me here.
Setting your Surroundings
Healing activities work best if you are in an environment that is comforting and feels safe to you. Try to create a space that is grounding and that cultivates your sense of comfort and safety by choosing music that relaxes you, have a cup of water or a warm beverage (I really recommend healing herbal or mushroom teas during this activity), light a candle or dim the lights, and finally try to engage with this activity during a time when you know you will not be interrupted.
Please know that these are just suggestions and if you have grounding practices that are different from what is outlined here, feel free to do those in addition to, or instead of these.
4. Draw your starting point (mycelial node) at the center of this circle with 4 main hyphae branching out from it.
By the end of this activity, 2 hyphae will represent a broad look at your negative charge (ex: triggers, past experiences, fears, attachments, etc.) and 2 hyphae will represent a broad look at your positive charge (ex: coping skills, your network of support, opportunities, ways to ground, etc.).
5. Take a few moments to breath and reflect on main themes that contribute to your negative charge. When you have decided what two things you want to focus on, label the hyphae.
6. For each main hyphae, spend 10-15 minutes branching and mapping your negative charges. Start simple and allow yourself to get more detailed if it feels right.
7. Now that you are finished mapping your negative charges, take a 5-minute break to breathe, reflect and ground before moving on to the next step.
8. When you are ready to move on, begin focusing your attention on the positive charges in your life. The goal here is to identify ways that work for you to transform the negative charges in your life into healthy and nurturing ones. Again, these 2 main positively charged hyphae will represent broad ideas and themes (ex: coping skills, your network of support, opportunities, ways to ground, etc.). Take your time to label these life-sustaining hyphae.
9. For each main hyphae, spend 10-15 minutes branching and mapping your positive charges. Start simple and allow yourself to get more detailed if it feels right. Remember to think of things that you already do that help you and also think of new things that you would like to incorporate into your healing practices and into your life. Mapping out your positive charges will help you to identify tangible actions you can do to transform the parts of yourself that you are trying to heal.
10. Now that you are finished mapping your positive charges, take a 5-minute break to breathe, reflect and ground before moving on to the next step.
11. Starting at your mycelial node, it is now time to take all of the transformative energy that you have been building and fruit a healthy mushroom body to represent your healing self! You can get as creative as you would like here, what colors and patterns represent the healed and healing you?
12. Now that you are finished fruiting, you should have an outline of tools that you can refer to whenever you need. As time moves on, you can share these parts of yourself or these tools through your healing, nurturing and resilient spores.
13. Take a final 5-minutes to breathe, reflect and ground. Smile and be kind to yourself. Healing takes a lot of energy and it is important to give yourself the time to rest and re-energize.
Telluride Mushroom Festival Blog
Various members of the Telluride Mushroom Festival community contribute to this blog.