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Food Matters Live explores the mushroom revolution

3 min read
AUTHOR: Ross Carver-Carter
Freshly picked yellow chanterelle mushroom. Chanterelle or girolle mushrooms. Close-up of Fresh edible mushrooms. Forest orange mushrooms.

Humans have been fascinated with fungi for centuries, using them in religious rituals, as medicine and simply for their deliciously meaty taste and texture. They’re incredible organisms, neither plant nor animal, and now they are seeing a resurgence of interest in what market researchers have dubbed the “shroom boom”.

With around 14,000 species of mushrooms known to science, we’re only just beginning to understand the potential of fungi. For example, did you know that fungal networks allow trees to communicate with each other, something researchers call the Wood Wide Web? Or that they can be used in forestry to help capture carbon from the atmosphere?

Curated from the Food Matters Live archive, the following podcasts and features look at the many uses of mushrooms and investigate their growing popularity as nutraceuticals.

Could mycoforestry help feed the world and save the planet?

Mushrooms on a mossy branch in the woods

According to the United Nations, agricultural practices are behind roughly 80% of global deforestation. Not only does this deprive us of carbon-capturing forests, it also puts the earth’s precious biodiversity at risk. But could mushrooms offer a solution to the conflict between agriculture, forestry and wildlife?

Mycoforestry is a nascent field of study that seeks to manage forests through the introduction of fungi. Its adherents say it offers the potential for carbon-negative food production, sequestering greenhouse gases whilst feeding millions in the process.

The Food Matters Live Podcast welcomes Professor Paul Thomas, Honorary Professor in Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Stirling. He recently authored a research paper hailing mycoforestry as a key solution to both food insecurity and climate change.

So what did the study find? What could it mean for deforestation? And how can all of this benefit the food industry? Tune in below to find out!

Are we on the cusp of a mushroom renaissance?

Detailed coloured line artwork of forest mushrooms in psychedelic colours make up this seamless pattern. Global colours, easy to change.

Within the wider shroom boom, adaptogenic and nootropic mushrooms stand out – ingredients purported to induce relaxation and enhance focus. Functional fungi are now one of the fastest-growing wellness trends and there’s plenty of exciting innovation underway in this space.

The Food Matters Live Podcast sits down with some of the key innovators in the functional nutrition market, including Simon Salter, Co-Founder of the supplement company DIRTEA, and Zoey Henderson, Founder of the mycology-based beer company Fungtn.

The magic of mushrooms: the versatility and sustainability of fungi

Glowing mushrooms on bark with fireflies in forest

Portobello. Shiitake. Chestnut. White button. All of these are common edible varieties of mushrooms familiar to most of us, but what you might not know is that mushrooms are good for more than just eating.

Some kinds can break down hard-to-recycle plastics whilst others have been observed to detox oil contamination. A team at Newcastle University even managed to create a self-repairing bio-leather – all thanks to mycelium threads.

There is also growing interest in mycoforestry, a type of permaculture that uses edible mushrooms to sequester carbon – tackling both food insecurity and climate change in the process.

Mushrooms are also a key ingredient trend in the plant-based protein market. Used to mimic red meat without the environmental cost of livestock agriculture, they look set to play an important role in sustainable ingredient formulation going forward.

In this in-depth feature, Food Matters Live investigate the versatile uses of mushrooms and their role in a more sustainable food future.

Sustainability is essential to the future of food worldwide. Discover the latest innovations leading the way at the Food Matters Live Sustainable Food Forum. You can also explore the key trends, challenges and solutions in sustainable food development in the Food Matters Live Sustainable Food Digest, a brand new digital publication.