Inspiration: Paul Stamets on how mushrooms can help save the world…and expand your mind

By Amy Durr, Alliance Communications Coordinator

Paul Stamets believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds,” according to TED. “The focus of entrepreneurial mycologist Stamets’ research is the Northwest’s native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.”

In this 5-minute video by Now This Earth, Stamets talks about 3 ways mushrooms can help save the earth with paradigm-shifting solutions:

  1. Fashion: Reishi mushroom mycelium is conducive for replacing fabrics and growing faux leather, important because the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters
  2. Meat replacements: Fast growing mushrooms taste like meat and can be used to replace beef, a highly polluting industry that has a profound effect on climate change
  3. Fighting viruses and pandemics: Mushrooms can be used to up-regulate immunity so that pigs, chickens and even humans can naturally defend themselves against pathogens, including viruses

Stamets believes that mycelium, the underground, root-like structures of mushrooms, is sentient, intelligent, and knows you’re there. Amazingly, in a single cubic inch of soil there can be more than 8 miles of mycelial cells. Because of the biodiversity of fungi in an ecosystem, when you break a stick or are chopping wood there’s an amazing competition of different fungal populations that reach up and try to grab that new nutrition.

Stamets has recently found that mushroom mycelium extracts provide essential nutrition that confers an immune benefit to bees. This nutritional support then translates into improved hive health, and may be helpful in addressing Colony Collapse Disorder.

Mushrooms can be grown sustainably and quickly, have amazing properties which are still being discovered, and have shown promise in many situations where we currently use chemicals for remediation. To learn even more mind-expanding facts about mushrooms check out Fantastic Fungi, a documentary with Stamets on Netflix, and his landmark Bioneers presentation from 2006.

Imagine if we all joined Stamets in eating, living and breathing mushrooms! 

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