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Welcome Welcome you are listening to the mushroom revival podcast. This is your host Alex dore, and we are absolutely obsessed with the power of mushrooms and we bring on guests and experts from all around the world to geek out with us and go down a crazy rabbit hole of all things fungi and mushrooms, niche and super deep and also surface level for all
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listeners delight. So today we have Melanie Kahn here to join us to talk about a wonderful mushroom children's book that she wrote. So how're you doing?
Unknown Speaker 0:47
I'm good, Alex. So nice to be with you. And you're similarly cookie mushroom listeners.
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So for people who who don't know, you and your book, what are you up to?
Unknown Speaker 1:03
Um, I have written a book called Mason goes mushrooming. And it is a children's book, based on a true story of my own family and my own son, mushrooming and foraging from a very young age. My son Mason, began mushrooming when he was a baby in arms literally. And we would go with the
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on Sunday mornings with the family to what I called the Church of the Church of mushrooms on Sunday mornings, we would go out with a local mushroom club, and take a walk and find whatever was in season and it became a very connected activity for our family to do every weekend. But I as a child also grew up hunting for mushrooms, my parents were immature, mycologists, way before it was in fashion in the 50s and 60s. And so I grew up hunting for mushrooms as well in wherever we were really my dad was a rather avid forger. And I think all of us have a mushroom story like that where we began an origin story as it were to hunt for mushrooms through an intergenerational connection through the oral tradition, or through friends and family or other clubs. So there's a deep connectivity that happens with mushroom in. And that's why I wrote the book to start to get kids interested in
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this very accessible and wonderful hobby that we all have.
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But are you from Eastern European descent? Or how did how did your parents get into mushrooming and mycology?
Unknown Speaker 2:42
Yeah, that's a fantastic question. Because you're absolutely right that in in Eastern Europe, and actually, in most parts of the globe, mushroom hunting is an intergenerational family experience, right? It's really only in the US where it's gotten this bad rap this myco phobia, as we know of it. And in other countries, it's very common to go out with your, your grandmother or your babushka or your nana, to hunt for mushrooms in the hills of Umbria or in you know, Vietnam or Indonesia. It's common. So for, in fact, yes, my father was German, my mother was not. But they learned to mushroom forage from a from a local mushroom Hunter on Martha's Vineyard in the 50s, who was a
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super interesting guy. And he would take my dad out, my dad was a was a renaissance man. He was a real, he was an enthusiast, and he loved to learn about anything and my mother was was similar. They were both quite good amateur mycologist and in fact, when my mom died a few years ago, she was so obsessed with mushrooms that she asked to be to have a green burial up in our pasture on our farm in Vermont, and to have shittaka spores thrown in amongst other types of mushrooms thrown in on the grave where she was buried so that she could come back in her pasture in her field as mushrooms and she does every year as a matter of fact, we've just got about four inches of rain in Southern Vermont and I'll walk out to the field next week and there will be the the Agaricus the meadow mushrooms and I'll be reminded of my mom
Unknown Speaker 4:30
that's really special i i also want a green burial for sure. And
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yeah, a mix of
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it'd be cool to come back as a tree and then then mushrooms underneath would definitely be cool.
Unknown Speaker 4:46
Well one so next podcast could be with the folks that are making the sorry to interrupt but one of your next podcast could be with the folks that are making the or if you haven't already spoken to the folks that are making the mycelium do
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it Yeah, it was a really good conversation. And, yeah, it's not. It's not something that, you know, most people, especially in the United States, we have such a fear of death. It's not everywhere in the world, some cultures have a,
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an interesting relationship with burials and death and magnification and bringing their mummified relatives out every year to party with them. And you know, that, I feel like
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we're semi lucky to be studying fungi and mushrooms to have that almost deeper relationship with
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death and kind of acknowledged that as part of the natural cycle and, and that we are part of nature, we're not separate. And these things happen. And they're, they're normal. And they're, we're equally as part of nature as everything else. And, and it's so important to teach little kids that right, and I think your parents did a wonderful job as as for you. And I'm curious, you know, you had one phrase in this book, when in doubt, throw it out, which is a really common phrase. In the mushroom hunting scene. I was just wondering, you know, was there any other phrases that you've learned from your parents? Or tips and tricks that you learned from them that you passed on to your kid?
Unknown Speaker 6:28
Yeah, that's a great question. There's some good phrases that mushroom hunters use. Like, there are old mushroom hunters, there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters. I always I said things like that to my kids, I would say I'm not a risk taker. I'm not interested in you know, trying a bunch of different mushrooms and seeing if you know, it make you sick or not that that wasn't what we were about. We were interested in the forest for the culinary adventures, more than anything. My husband is a chef, we own a cafe and restaurant and a catering business. And in addition to just doing a lot of home cooked meals, and we you know, built a straw bale pizza oven, so we could make, you know, put homemade pizzas with mushrooms on top of them that we'd found in the forest. And so my goal with my kids was to teach them not only some, you know, amateur mycology and some fluency with a few basic beginner mushrooms, like the four that I have in Mason goes mushrooming, which is a morel, a black trumpet, a lobster and Ashanti row, basically mushrooms that are ubiquitous and common that you can find in the same spots year after year, which is a very safe way of mushroom hunting. So there are tips and tricks that I taught my kids have a more to do with safely hunting for and eating mushrooms that you know, are 100% going to be known to be edible, because you've really done your homework and done your research. But yeah, when in doubt, throw it out. Or I like to also say when in doubt, make a spore print.
Unknown Speaker 8:14
Right, right. And I'm sure it helps, you know, I think it would be a little bit more worried for like a berry or something where, you know, if they find it in the woods, they might plop it in their mouth right there. But for a mushroom, you have to cook it and I'm sure at a young age, you're not using the stovetop, you're not really like, you know, preparing the mushrooms yourself and you're probably giving them to your parents to cook it up. So there's a little bit more of a safety net there.
Unknown Speaker 8:46
Hopefully, but yeah, it's it's a little safer in my mind, then, you know, another wild edible that, you know, they're just going to eat right there on the spot potentially.
Unknown Speaker 8:59
Alex, you make an excellent point. mushroom hunting actually has a very, very low level of danger involved in it as compared to a lot of other outdoor hobbies. Hunting comes to mind. Fishing, for example, a friend of mine is a ER doc and he says he takes out many fish hooks a year and some of them leading to things like blindness and those hobbies, come with them. A safety, you know, guidelines, obviously, which people may or may not do mushroom hunting. It doesn't come with that same sense of safety guidelines, because it's basically been scrubbed and erased as a big nono. Right? Just don't touch that. Don't touch that don't touch any mushrooms. That's like the opposite of education, right? Like if you know a thing or two about the woods, you know what you can and can't engage with especially what you can and can't eat. So my goal with mushroom hunting and foraging with
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Children is to give them a sense of connectivity with the land that they inhabit very much like what you were talking about earlier. Mushrooms offer us an incredible sense of connectivity to our place and our home, and where we live. And they also connect us, as you said to death and dying, but in a really positive way. Because when you understand how essential mushrooms are, to our very existence in the forest in the jobs that they perform some you know decomposition and so and making new soil for our trees and helping with every everything from you know, yeast to penicillin, to the alcohols to the good things that go on our gut, when you start to understand the role of fungi in our world. It's a real sense of connection, don't you think?
Unknown Speaker 10:53
Yeah, it reminds me I used to do, I used to be part of this nature program as a as a small kid. And part of it was learning how to, you know, make a fire, using like a bow drill or making a primitive shelter and kind of survival skills and,
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and I remember the first time learning how to make a fire with a bow drill. Our instructor said, you know, he was kind of
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fascinated with fire since he was a young kid and ended up you know, burning down a small part of a forest because it got out of control. And since then he's had such, you know, when he was a kid, it was all like, is this fascination, but he didn't know the repercussions, right? You think you're kind of invincible.
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But he's like, Yeah, but on the flip side, you shouldn't be totally afraid of it, because then you don't, you don't know how to properly handle it. And so he had everyone, you know, lighting some Tinder on fire. And like, we all held this, like, flaming ball, which, you know, he's like, Yeah, you just, you got to know, you know how to how to hold this and like, prepare it in a way that you're going to be safe. And you can cook your food and stay warm and survive. But also, knowing the repercussions of yeah, don't make a fire during an incredibly dry season, where the embers could start a forest fire and know that yeah, this this could hurt you if you're not really paying attention. So have respect for this relationship. And that proper like having enough fear, to where you you're conscious of the repercussions, but having enough
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of a relationship to it to where you actually have a relationship, right. It's the same with mushrooms. It's like yeah, there. There are deadly mushrooms out there. But on the flip hand, there's amazing mushrooms like the chanterelles, the morels, black trumpets, everything that you were saying.
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So, during the last almost year, you've been doing mushroom education with families, what has been kind of the most common questions that you've gotten from them, or maybe some aha moments, what has been the biggest realizations for both you and the families that you that you educate?
Unknown Speaker 13:25
Well, there's been a lot and I love this analogy of learning about something in order to respect it. It's like going in the ocean and understanding the power of waves, right? Or I also teach with parents I teach knife skills.
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You need to have a knife in order to go mushrooming and you need to know how to cut something properly and cut something towards your thumb you know, and that's an incredibly important skill to have as a child as you get older to learn how to wield a knife and how to you know, cut an onion or cut a mushroom or or interact with knives, right because you're going to be using them your entire life in some way, shape or form.
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So I use mushroom hunting as a platform to have all of those conversations. Same with like picking up trash, like anytime I go in the woods with families, I always bring a baggie or as an old chopping bag, and I say you want to leave the woods nicer than you found it and a way to do that is you know, grab that old Diet Coke Can where you see it and pick up that old cigarette wrapper. And then you can leave the woods not only with a you know gorgeous bag of mushrooms that you can examine and photograph and make, you know, a centerpiece from or II but you can also take your trash and throw it away. And you have that that's another bag of treasure. Right? So the the thing that I've found the most compelling for families right now is talking it first of all the hunger and the appetite for the outdoors and for how to engage in the outdoors is huge. People are
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But almost desperate for how to reconnect to that sense of place, and wonder and joy of being in the present moment of being in the forest. And so for me, it's been incredibly rewarding to go out with families and kids and have those big aha moments where the kids are, you know, I found something come look, and, you know, in talking about it Turkey Tail or talking about a, you know, some, some wonderful stump that's covered with
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oyster mushrooms, they have moments of sheer joy, and feeling alive. And being absent of technology and absence of that first world dimension. And in this completely immersed, five senses, very sensual experience of the woods, right? So families want that experience, kids want that experience. And so for me, it's a real privilege to go out with them and be seen as somebody who can help guide that. And, and Alex, like, like all amateur mycologist, I know, a tiny modicum of what there is to know about the fungal world, right. But I know a tiny bit more than most people enough that I can go out in the woods and share some of that knowledge. And that's a very joyous experience to be able to share that. And that's how most of us learned to mushroom. I mean, I'm imagining that maybe you learn to forage from either the folks that came before you in a multi generational way or from friends or groups of other foragers. Right? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 16:34
Yeah. Well, I wish I wish it was from my parents. But no, it came much, much later. i Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so then appetite is real. And it's the one the one thing that I teach everywhere, it schools and libraries, and everywhere is a really common idea, which you'd be surprised that people don't know already, which is that you can touch any mushroom that you see.
Unknown Speaker 17:01
You can touch it. And that's like this huge aha moment. They're like, really? And I say, Yeah, it's like using glue, or using any other thing. What do you do if you do those things? Typically, you wash your hands, right? So but you don't use glue, and then eat it. You don't, you know. So mushrooms the same, you can touch mushrooms, you can interact, and then you just can't ingest certain ones, before you know what you're doing. And so that's a very freeing thought for a lot of people that they can actually have their own personal relationship with a mushroom and not be afraid.
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And I do want to say that this is controversial, and it it needs more studies. But there was one solo mushroom that we do know of.
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Currently, that is Poteau, stroma, corno. Diamond, I think is the name. And it it was originally found in Asia. I think it it has been found a couple times in Australia, I believe. But this, there has been a couple of reports of people touching it and getting kind of like a rash, not severe, extremely deadly if you eat it, but that's the only thing that we have. So far that you know, there's any reports of event an interaction, but if you're in North America, South America, Europe, you should be you should be totally fine. And it's not going to kill you if you touch anything. So I think that's just wanted to point that out. You're not gonna get deathly ill from touching the mushroom. And your point about rash is really well taken. I like to tell people you know, when you're going mushroom hunting, one of the things that you do actually want to be very concerned about is poison ivy, which actually can hurt you if you touch it. And you can get a very severe case of poison ivy if you really engage with it. You know, too much. So there are things in the woods, that that can hurt you ticks poison ivy is to name a few bears if you're very unlucky. But mushrooms are lower on that list in terms of touch. Right, right. Yeah, I it's funny. I was never taught as a kid about ticks. It seems like it's such a, a new. I mean, it's been it's been around for a while, but I remember having a family, a friend's mom who had Lyme disease, and it was really bad. She was on IV antibiotics. And I thought it was like the weirdest thing. I was like you got a disease from a tech like this is so strange and rare. Like it seems so rare to me. And I actually went this nature camp that I was in was in Lyme, Connecticut.
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And it is funny, it's like we were in the woods, you know, all day, just tromping around and no one was really talking about it because it it really wasn't that normal or
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or I want to say I want to use the word popular, but it wasn't as dramatic. Back then. Or prevalent. Yeah, back then as, as it is now. It's everywhere. I know, pretty much every every single person that I know who lives in the Northeast has Lyme disease, including myself. I mean, it's it's so prevalent now. And the tics are becoming, now they can last they can live throughout, you know, I've heard people being covered in ticks when they're walking in the woods with two feet of snow, and that they're getting ticks on them. And it's like, wow, it almost it used to be only kind of like a spring summer fall thing. But now there. Yeah. And it seems like there's a lot more of them. So yeah, there's a lot more a lot more things to be afraid of, than then mushrooms and kind of giving getting over that myco phobia is really important.
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Which, why wood that's pretty much why I wrote a children's book about mushroom foraging. Because in Mason goes mushrooming, it's a child led endeavor, he Mason, who is actually my real life son, he's spurred on to look for mushrooms in the spring and summer, late autumn, because he has his own innate curiosity, which I find to be a very real thing with children, they love the thrill of the treasure hunt, you know, it's like looking for Easter eggs or finding seashells or, you know, finding wild blueberries, there's, there's a real
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exuberance that should kids have in mushroom hunting, and what especially and they're very good at it, they've got terrific eyesight, they're low to the ground, you know, they can find things. So, yeah, so just to layer on how much joy there is to have in those words, even if you have to pull up a ticker to when you're done.
Unknown Speaker 21:55
So, I've never had kids, so you probably know, way more about this than I do. But it seems like for all the parents that I've talked to, and just kind of imagining myself is that there seems to be this really hard balance between giving your kid freedom. And then also, you know, educating them about the, the, you know, the dangers of the world. So, and, and being kind of
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a little more conservative with them and finding the perfect balance. And then this also goes into age where, you know, like young kids, I feel like we'll just put anything in their mouth and, like swallow coins and balloons, and like Legos and weird things. And like, there's no concept of repercussions or no concept of like, common sense, right? And it's just kind of like, there's too much curiosity and and there's none, there's no little voice in the back of their head being like, yeah, maybe you shouldn't.
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It's just like 100% Green light on everything.
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And so is I'm curious, what kind of age group do you imagine this book for? And do you have like,
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an ideal age in mind where were you think that people should start introducing their, their kid to mushroom hunting themselves.
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So I started mushroom hunting with my kids when they were in a basket on my back. And
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they so the first is to have it become a hobby that is
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habitual alized, you know, within your household. And you don't have to be an expert. In order to do that. I'm a huge fan of mushroom clubs. And actually down there in Austin, you have a fantastic mushroom club. And there's there's mushroom clubs, in every state in this in this country of some sort or other and you can go out for free in a on on the weekends, you join a club because you know, 15 $20 a year in most cases, you meet this terrific group of people, they have kids, they have dogs, and I've seen many, many babies on those trips. And the younger that a child is exposed to the woods and all the treasures in the woods, whether it's you know, learning about ferns or salamanders or mushrooms or the you know do on the leaf or the spider's webs or the birds nests. There are so many things that they can see in the woods at a very young age. It the earlier the better is what I would say and as far as as reading Mason goes mushrooming it it says it's the the publisher has picked a date. You know, age in mind is age 14
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I in and I say a four year old would enjoy having Mason goes mushrooming, read to them at bedtime. And they can look and see all the butterflies that are hiding in the, you know, the chipmunks that are running off the pages, because there's a lot of animals in it, and the kids seems to really enjoy seeing the whole natural universe. And then so they haven't read to them, and be learning to read and a nine year old would be reading to learn and read it to themselves. So that's that span of, you know, pre reader to, to young reader, and I think it would, I've read it aloud now, you know, hundreds, if not 1000s of times, in schools all across America, and the age doesn't seem to matter much. There's a lot of questions afterwards, people want to know, you know, they want to know about buddy, the dog, who was our family dog, they want to know about the watercolors and how they were made. And, you know, so there's enough in it that that had an interest, a lot of different age groups. But the important thing is not a book, it's not the internet, it's not looking at something online, the important thing is getting children out back into nature, to actually be present in light of all five senses, touch, smell, taste, sight, obviously, and hearing all the sounds as you're walking through the forest, all of these are very important to a child's development. They are important to our development. No, we for some reason, Aleks care about the woods, we care about the environment around us, you know, that caring didn't just like drop out of the sky that was instilled in some way. In US. It sounds like that truth that you did when you were a kid, that camp in line was very fundamental to your experience of life. It really shaped you.
Unknown Speaker 26:52
Definitely, I feel like every, every kid, every kid should have a strong connection with nature. And I feel like it's it's fundamental in
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this Anthro post scene that we're we're in.
Unknown Speaker 27:09
And I feel like it's the root of it is our disconnection with nature is we forget that we're, we are nature. And so therefore we feel it's okay to cause pollution and all these different things and, and we don't realize that we're polluting ourselves and to to form that that strong relationship and that symbiosis with the world around us at such a young age, I feel like is fundamental for anyone. And to really humble our our ourselves and reconnect to the truth of really that we're, we're just animals, we're just silly, hairless apes running around this, this rock floating through space. And, and that's it, you know, and we're an animal, just like any anything else, we're another organism, just like anything else. And we're no better than, you know, the fly on the wall.
Unknown Speaker 28:06
And I, yeah, your point is so well taken. And there's a writer Richard Lewis, who's a fantastic guy, and he's been writing about something he termed the nature deficit disorder for many years now.
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says, he says, the more technology we get, the more nature we need. And that is sort of the inverse of what's actually happening. And so part of my you know, greater mission in going out across the country and leading walks and being with families and kids is to reconnect children to their, to their natural
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habitats in order to that they can learn to care about them, to preserve them to ultimately stored them and not mess them up. That's part of a bigger point that foraging is simply just an access point to it's a way in to that it's a way to immerse a child in the forest with a purpose and a sense of being deeply present. So that they can learn
Unknown Speaker 29:17
about caring about it. I mean, it's it's as simple as that.
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What has been the hardest part of this journey? Either reading this book or educating
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the grand fight against myco phobia. What would you say is the hardest part for you?
Unknown Speaker 29:38
That's a great question. You know, honestly, I, I'm, I wrote this book at the age of 56. And I'm now almost 60. And I had not planned on being a writer. So I'm quite amazed that I wrote a children's book, and it was very hard writing, writing a kid's book is
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One of the hardest things I've ever done, every word matters, every kid's kids are tough critics, you know, they don't want nonsense. So at the point at which I realized it was going to be published, and it really mattered,
Unknown Speaker 30:14
I dove into it. It was a two year long effort. And you know, people ask me, Well, what's your next book? And I'm like, oh, no, I am one and done. Like this is, this was really hard. And I said, what I had to say, you know, like, I am a big believer in mushroom foraging with children, I'm a big believer in the importance of the outdoors. To me, this is just a calling card to be doing, I've been leading mushroom education for upwards of 25 years. So you know, the fact that I now have this, you know, quote, unquote, you know, validity, in which I did my to myself and for myself, which makes it even funnier. It doesn't really matter to me, I've been doing this anyway, all over all over New England for a long time, and I love it. So with or without it, I would be doing mushroom education with kids in schools and environmental centers and everywhere else. But the book has given me a chance to really open some doors. You know, I did a TEDx about the importance of foraging and planetary stewardship. I've done obviously, this talk here with you today, you know, I might not have done this if I didn't have a book. And it's such a such a treat to have these conversations with like minded people. So the hardest thing was probably the actual book writing. And the most joyful thing, by far has been the conversations like this, and the actual going out into the forest with kids. And like, on Thursday, this week, there's a summer camp up in Vermont, and I'm doing a morning workshop with and they invited me to come up. I can't wait. I'm so looking forward to it. You know, like, it's awesome. And it's rained all week, so we're gonna find some stuff, you know? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Let Mason right, the next one.
Unknown Speaker 31:59
I will. You know, people often ask me, what is Mason? Think about all this? Well, you know, Mason's 20 years old now. And he goes to college in Colorado, and he's still a tremendously good forger. He helped with a basket as of this week alone, I'm sure he'll be saying, Mom, you think the channels are out? And I'll be absolutely, and we'll go looking for him. And he's really quite good at it. And he likes to sort of, you know, strut his stuff and show, you know, he'll be out on a hike with his friends. And they'll say, Oh, what's that? You know, it's a skill. It's, it's a wonderful thing to know how to do. Yeah, yeah. Well, that's, that's good that he's still super into it. You know, you always hear about
Unknown Speaker 32:38
you know, kids, they're, they're really into something that their parents are when they're a young kid. And then, and then the teenage year, you get a little angsty, and there's that separation for your parents, and you think it's like lame to be associated with them or whatever. And then they're trying to, like, create their own identity, and, you know, anything? Yeah. They're, they're trying to be different and unique, and all these different things. So you always hear about,
Unknown Speaker 33:07
yeah, it's either, you know, they they follow in the footsteps or carve their own way completely different paths. So it's cool that he's still very much into it. And, yeah, it sounds like you carved a different path, maybe from your, you know, family of origin with your own interests and mycology, but I think you'll agree like, Isn't it fun, Alex to go out in the woods with friends who are not fellow mycologist? or is interested, and to watch them, you know, ask you questions, and to see that glimmer of when they start to get the bug, you know, and they start to go wow, you you like you, this is so neat that you know what this is and then you can tell them something, you can open up a you know, blue standing belief and show them what it does and have that moment where they go, Ah, it's so cool. And then it's it's kind of fun to be that person who can share that right? Yeah, and likewise for it's it's awesome to be on a walk with other biologists that are into completely other things. And that's just the best just in general in a room with smarter mushroom errs. I love that. Yes. Yeah. Or in general, just anything that that has, that catches a spark in someone's eye. You know, it could be pottery, it could be, you know, collecting weird trinkets, whatever it may be, like something that that lights people up and they get really excited when they talk about it. This is why I have the podcast and I bring on people like you it's like, I am fascinated with other people's fascinations and similar with me, you know it, I'm sure it's it. They see me freaking out about mushrooms and they don't get it at all. But it's it's fascinating to see that fascination, you know, and I think it's it's
Unknown Speaker 34:56
it's yeah, it's it's humbling. It's it's sweet.
Unknown Speaker 35:00
It's, it's incredible to, to have to be a human and to be fascinated with the world around us. You know, and I think it's like connecting back to our, our childlike nature, which I feel like, society's pretty good at beating out of us or most of us. So to see that in another person is I feel like it's refreshing. And it's kind of it's triumphant. It's like the greatest.
Unknown Speaker 35:29
I'm like losing my words today.
Unknown Speaker 35:32
Why my coffee hasn't kicked in today. But yeah, I can finish your sentence, Alex, because I like sitting here like grinning from ear to ear, because Mason called me from college this this winter. And he was taking a philosophy class. And he said, Mom, I think I figured out like you and Dad, you both are still really curious and interested in the world. And you're still like re defining yourselves and following your your, your your joys and doing these, because my husband is a serial entrepreneur, and he's always doing crazy things, and you never know what he's going to be up to next. And here I've like, you know, written this book late in life, and I'm traveling around the country with us. And he had this moment of appreciation and reflection on the meaning of his own life and what he wanted to be doing moving forward, and how important it is to be an enthusiast to be somebody who's fascinated by things to follow in your own particular interest, but also to be really curious about other people's interests. And that he got it and I just said, whatever I paid for tuition this year, Mason was worth it. For you to have that moment love understanding of the meaning of his life, like the power to find meaning in life basically, was what he was saying. And he's like, I think I got it. I think I figured this out. And so that's really neat. And also what what you were just saying to Alex about
Unknown Speaker 37:03
finding that spark and joy in other people's passions. Is, makes you I opened up and I said, I'm really happy to be talking to fellow kooky mushroom errs. Right? We are slightly kooky about what we write. Yeah. Because we're so passionate about it. And so, what, when I did a TEDx talk, I did it to a group of kindergarteners, believe it or not, and they asked in the middle there like I use the word kooky, and they go, What does kooky mean? Go Yeah, well, kooky because like, you're, you're just really like, damn, I like this thing. Like, I'm really kooky for it, you know? And it's a very positive I use in a very positive way. But it's also a little indescribable, right? Like, how do you explain to somebody your passion for mycology? Alex, you can't really, like it's, it's, it kind of defies explanation, right? It's just, it's, it's just part of who you are. And that's how I feel about it. Like, if I can instill a tiny bit of my passion for this into a child. Damn, that's a good day, right?
Unknown Speaker 38:13
Yeah, it's it. I have this conversation all the time of, like, beauty trends over time, and, and place. And it's very interesting how, you know, in some countries, you know, the,
Unknown Speaker 38:28
like, wait is totally different, depending on what country you're in, like South Africa. You know, it. It was very common, you know, when I, when I was visiting, to hear people say, Oh, you look fat today. And that was like a compliment. Or in China. You know, a lot of times if there's a chubby baby, it's like, Oh, your baby looks, you know, and it's like, it's, that's a huge compliment. And, but in other places, that would be like, horrifying to say. And it's just, like, it's funny how culture shifts,
Unknown Speaker 38:59
not only in place, but also time throughout time. Like, there's different beauty standards, but also, different things throughout time are are cool or not cool. Like when I was growing up,
Unknown Speaker 39:11
if you are into like,
Unknown Speaker 39:13
videography, or you know, camera stuff, or technology or whatever, you would be like a nerd. And now it's like, oh, you're a tick tock influencer. You know, like, I remember I went to my, my classmates growing up, like, had a YouTube channel. And like, he was kind of made fun of like, it was like, Oh, you're a nerd or whatever. And if you're a YouTuber, now, as a kid, you're like, the coolest kid ever. So it's like, it's funny how these things change over time. And the reason I bring this up is I am hoping that, you know, being passionate about not only nature, but in general, is not this derogatory term like you're a nerd or you know, it's like something to bully someone.
Unknown Speaker 40:00
And it's it's celebrated. And I'm hoping that there's a space for young kids to be celebrated in their passion and like finding that meaning in life, right. And I hope everyone has that space to not only find that for themselves, but at any stage in their life really, but, but also find a space where they have a community where they can, you know, be supported and celebrated for that. And I think Alex, to layer on what you're saying mushrooms are having their moment, right, I think we can all agree on that it's becoming it's very, in fed mushrooms are in fed in a million different ways, whether it's the psilocybin community, or the foragers, or the
Unknown Speaker 40:46
cultivation or the folks making the tinctures, it's all a very growing thing right now. Plus Ecovative, doing all their work with mycelium based, you know, building supplies and bacon and you name it right, they are definitely coming on to the center stage. And so being a forger right now and being interested in mushrooms, I think it has a certain like Mystique or coolness to it, which I certainly didn't have when I started 30 years ago. It's like, nobody cared. And now, you know, my phone just will like blow up all summer long with people sending me pictures of their fines. And it is lovely. It's great.
Unknown Speaker 41:27
Having their moment, and I and I applaud that. I think that's wonderful. And I hope that they can kind of
Unknown Speaker 41:34
outgrow their the bad reputation that they've gotten and people can really become interested because the field of of mycology, as you know, is somebody who's had these conversations more than probably, you know, 99.9% in the world. It's fascinating. It's phenomenal. It's huge. It's vast, it's endless. It's like, it's like the gift that wouldn't stop giving right.
Unknown Speaker 41:58
So no, no new book for you. Did you're done one hit wonder you're done. And so you're obviously still educating people?
Unknown Speaker 42:09
What what do you have any next projects in mind? continue educating what's next for you? Well, there's some exciting things happening. CBS Sunday Morning, which is a very large magazine show on TV, the last one left, the last lap, one last one left on television came in did a spotlight on on Mason and myself actually last summer, and it's going to air this summer. So that's awesome. Congrats, that's gonna be a really big deal. And they did a beautiful job, they really got it, they really understood, you know, the, the, the layers. And the IRS very much like this conversation, you know, they really understood the importance of mushroom hunting. And so that's happening. I'm doing a lot of education this summer, really all over New England, and then in the fall, headed back out west to I really love going to the mushroom shows and fairs and doing family education there and trying to
Unknown Speaker 43:08
all of the all of the mushroom clubs around the country recognize that the future of this is is in the youth and the kids. And you know, in order to be a sustainable growing club, you want to have the next generation coming up interested in what you're doing. So I feel like that's very much part of my mission and goal now and I'm having a really wonderful time doing it. So as long as that's the case, I'm going to keep on doing it. And, you know, obviously have some some books to move. But the books done really well. And at this point, it's not. It's not about, you know, selling Maysam goes mushrooming as much as it is about getting it into the hands of people who want to have this kind of, you know, activity and hobby within their own family.
Unknown Speaker 43:53
Awesome. And where can people get the book?
Unknown Speaker 43:57
Well, I have a website, Mason goes mushrooming, and you can get it there for a discounted price as well as on Amazon. And I always like to send people to their independent bookstore because I love independent bookstores. On my website. I also have a lot of resources. I have free curriculum downloads for teachers, I have resources to all of the other mushroom activities and books that have inspired me. There's a long list of books that have inspired me most of most of which have the folks have been on your show already. People like Eugenia bone, and of course,
Unknown Speaker 44:38
Merlin Sheldrake, and every all these
Unknown Speaker 44:42
David Fisher, who's who wrote my favorite guide to wild edibles in North America. So there's a lot of great resources on my website, that's all you know, free and downloadable for educators. And yeah, so those are those are where you can get it and of course you can
Unknown Speaker 45:00
was reached out to me on my website as well I'm absolutely thrilled to be talking to any fellow
Unknown Speaker 45:07
amateur mycologist or people interested in becoming them.
Unknown Speaker 45:12
Amazing, cool. Well, any any, any final words that you want to give to any parents out there any, any listeners that have little kids or any final things that you want to share,
Unknown Speaker 45:26
I would just encourage you to find
Unknown Speaker 45:30
either one day workshop or local mushroom club or something at the library, something that involves other human beings and not just books and things so that you can go out and really experience the mushrooms in their natural environment and see what's right in your backyard, you may be super surprised to learn that you're you know, sitting on a treasure trove of you know, black trumpets are a wonderful log of oyster mushrooms. And you know that big thing that you mow over in the summertime might be a you know, hen of the woods at the base of your oak tree and every now and so it's not only about going out in the woods but you could also increase your you know, culinary and cooking and recipe experience amazing goes mushrooming has for beginner recipes in an omelet and pasta and things of things that you can do with hitting you know, mushrooms, a little bit of high heat and getting their wonderful umami flavor out of them. I mean, we could do a whole episode episode on cooking mushrooms, which is
Unknown Speaker 46:29
a second, you know, I have an interest of mine and my husband. So
Unknown Speaker 46:34
it's just I would call this podcast and an invitation Alex from an invitation from Alex and Melanie to get out there. Don't be afraid. Grab your kid by the hand. Go out with an experienced mushroom group and enjoy what's right in your neighborhood.
Unknown Speaker 46:53
Definitely, yeah, in for people who have kids, bring your kids out for people who plan to have kids plan to take your kids out for people who don't have kids and don't want to have kids. Take yourself out because you end rekindle that little kid in you and and be passionate about the natural world. So yeah, let's all let's all spend a little more time in the woods looking for mushrooms and connecting with nature. And so thanks, thanks for coming on the show. And thank you for everyone tuning in and trimming in wherever you are in the world. We don't have a Patreon or anywhere that you can directly support the show. But we do have a website mushroom revival.com We have a whole range of functional mushroom products from gummies to capsules, tinctures, powders, all certified organic, you know all for energy, focus, immune support, calming down at the end of the day, you name it, a bunch of educational resources there for free. We have a bunch of free ebooks that you can download and blog posts. We also have a giveaway going on. So you can sign up the link is in the bio. So if you want to win a free mushroom product, we give one away a month to any of our listeners. This is only for listeners to the podcast. So check it out there we also have a special VIP discount code pod treats and you can use that that's only for listeners of the podcast. You can also in addition to picking up Mason goes mushrooming you can check out my newest book, The Little Book of mushrooms on on our site and and that's about it. Leave a review Tell your friends go out in the woods. Have a great time and as always much love and may the spores be with you
Transcribed by https://otter.ai