The Day of the Mushroom
The Day of the Mushroom is a celebration of one of the world's most fascinating and versatile foods. The mushroom is so fascinating that it actually gets two days on the calendart. National Mushroom Day (October 15th) is also dedicated to this delicate curiosity, which has been used in cuisine and medicine for thousands of years. And all of that is aside from September 20 which is a Day of Psilocybin Education and Awareness dedicated to Magic Mushrooms. But let's bring it back to the spring. The Day of the Mushroom is celebrated annually on April 16th, and is a time for mycophiles around the world to share their appreciation for these delightful decomposers. Mushrooms come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and they can be used in a myriad of recipes, from soups and stews to pasta and pizzas, and of course, tea! Let’s tip our caps to these magnificent little beings, and explore a bit of the past, present and future of how our lives intersect with our friends, the fungus.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE THE DAY OF THE MUSHROOM?
The first aspect that gets us really fired up about mushrooms is their long history of medicinal use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Research is ongoing due to their potential health benefits and unique properties including the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of some mushrooms, which could make them useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. Other researchers are investigating the potential of mushrooms as a source of antibiotics and antiviral agents, which could help combat drug-resistant infections. While that research is presently being explored, we are advocates of the daily enjoyment of mushrooms to support brain health, the immune system, to reduce stress and anxiety, and a variety of other benefits of functional mushrooms in your diet. Mushrooms have also become a rising star in coffee alternatives with Mushroom Coffee and Mushroom Tea making a big splash in the beverage market.
Other recent studies have shown promising results in the use of psilocybin, the active compound found in "magic mushrooms," in the treatment of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In these studies, patients with treatment-resistant PTSD were given a controlled dose of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting and many experienced significant reductions in their symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Researchers believe that the psychedelic effects of psilocybin may lead to long-term improvements in mental health for certain individuals. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of using psilocybin as a treatment for PTSD, these early findings suggest that mushrooms could hold promise as a new approach to treating a condition that has been debilitating for so many people.
WHEN DO WE CELEBRATE THE MUSHROOM?
The Day of the Mushroom is celebrated in April because mushrooms begin to come out as the tempuratures rise and the environment becomes humid, creating the ideal fruiting conditions for mushrooms to grow. April is a good month to celebrate the mushroom because it is also Earth Month. This is fitting because of the positive effects mushrooms can have in the environment. These myco-remediation projects in development are exciting to follow:
- Pestalotiopsis microspora has shown the ability to break down certain types of plastic, including polyurethane, which is commonly used in plastic bags.
- Oyster mushrooms were found growing in the soil of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster site, showing that mushrooms may help with sequestration of hazardous waste
- Rhizopus mycelium were successful in a pilot program filtering heavy metals from contaminated mine run-off
All of these continue to be investigated to determine efficacy vs current systems and also to monitor any unintended consequences of introducing these mushrooms into ecosystems where they are not native. But once again, the early evidence of the power of mushrooms is exciting
Other major environmental impacts are the potential of mushrooms to be used as a sustainable source of food and even building materials. For example, mushrooms make a great meat substitute and researchers are exploring the use of mycelium (the root-like structure of mushrooms) to create eco-friendly building materials that are both strong and biodegradable. This is already a common practice for certain boxing materials which is a major shift in the packaging industry. All of this goes to show that, nature may hold the key to developing sustainable and effective solutions to pressing environmental issues, and that is a big reason to celebrate mushrooms right now.
HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL MUSHROOM DAY?
Go foraging for mushrooms! If you are not yet proficient at mushroom ID, go for a walk in the woods and see how many you can spot. Look under leaves, look around the base of stumps and on decomposing logs. Foraging doesn’t always mean you have to bring a basket and come home with dinner, it’s ok to peek around, see what you can, and maybe take some pictures. Celebrate these myco-miracles because without mushrooms we would have a planet covered in fallen trees! Fungus is the only kingdom with the ability to break down lignin, the cellular material that makes wood tough.
Join us in celebrating mushrooms today by raising a glass of a Tamim Teas blend.
OTHER INTERESTING FUNGI-FACTS
- The largest living organism on Earth is a mushroom! It is a honey fungus that covers over 2,200 acres in Oregon's Blue Mountains.
- Some mushrooms are bioluminescent, meaning they glow in the dark. This is caused by a chemical reaction within the mushroom, and can be seen in species such as the jack-o'-lantern mushroom Omphalotus olearius and the ghost fungus Omphalotus nidiformis.
- Mushrooms also breathe as humans do: they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide
- Some species of mushrooms are highly prized in the culinary world for their unique flavors and textures. For example: the morel, the chanterelle, and the truffle.