Fungi are truly fantastic, capable of mass decomposition and great healing. Humans have relied on Fungi for thousands of years, and they have been vital in humanity’s evolution. This relationship with Fungi is incredibly important and the benefits have barely been touched!!
Common Fantastic Fungi
Fungi are somewhat disliked by many Americans, they are grossed out or scared because they think of molds. If only they knew that some of their favorite things wouldn’t exist without fantastic fungi! Some of my favorite examples are beer, wine and sourdough bread. All of which use fungi, yeasts to be exact, to breakdown sugars and produce alcohol. Fungi are also very common in the medical world. Penicillin is a fungi that grows on white bread and is considered the most important drug in history. The modern world depends on Fungi and yet still treat them as though they are evil. It is time we demystify these fantastic Fungi and embrace their wide range of benefits.
Fungi In Our Food
Beer, Wine and Bread are just the beginning when talking about Fungi in our food. Fungi are also responsible for cheese, chocolate, coffee, soy sauce, pickles, and so much more. The process of using Fungi to make food or drink is called fermentation, when you ferment things you add lots of beneficial microorganisms and make the food/drink easier to digest.
Bread has been a staple food around the globe for thousands of years. There is a huge variety of breads around the world and almost all of them utilize yeast to rise. Sourdough bread refers to bread made with natural, living yeasts, this yeast is commonly known as the sourdough starter. Starters are usually kept in a glass jar and must be fed flour and watered daily to survive. Lots of sourdough starters have been recorded to be over 100 years old. Making a sourdough starter is simple and can be a fun project to witness fantastic fungi in action. Here is an awesome guide to sourdough starters!
Oh beer, the most popular alcohol in the world, there is an infinite variety of beers but they all have one thing in common. Yeast, that oh so fantastic fungi, is responsible for beer as well. Beer has been around for all of recorded history and although it has changed drastically over the years, the process is basically the same. Grains, water, maybe sugar, and yeast are mixed together and allowed to ferment. Yeast consumes the sugars from the grains and produces alcohol. Beer also be made at home and is a cool process to witness.
Wine, an ancient and delicious alcoholic drink is yet another gift from the fantastic fungi, yeast. Wine is made predominantly from grapes, but can be made with any fruit you’d like. Regardless of the fruit choice, it will be mashed up and have yeast added to it. The yeast will consume the sugars from the fruit and produce alcohol. Making wine and beer are very similar processes but utilize different types of yeast and different nutrient sources for the yeast. Wine has tons of health benefits when consumed responsibly, and we have fermentation to thank. If you would like to try making your own wine checkout this wine making kit!
Fungi In Medicine
Penicillin. Perhaps the most important fantastic fungi of modern times, Penicillin was discovered in 1928 but was not mass produced until 1943 for the Allied WW2 effort. The US government had 2.3 million doses ready to send with our troops in Normandy, saving tons of lives. Penicillin is used to treat a wide range of infections, from strep throat and pink to meningitis. Fungal medicine continues to be vital even in 2021, with more research happening all the time. Scientists are finding that Reishii can help fight cancer and Psilocybe Cubensis are healing people’s brains. It is truly fantastic to witness.
Fantastic Fungi Of The Future
Fungi hold massive potential, for food, medicine, mycoremediation, mental health treatment and so much more. All around the world scientists are amping up research in Mycology, finding solutions to many different 21st century problems. I love to see humanity embracing our natural counterpart and utilizing Fungi to build a better world.