The Weird World of Morel Mushrooms, Soil Carbon and More
The coveted morel mushrooms are weird, but it’s subterrain existence is even more peculiar than its distinctive morphology.
We spoke with our friend and brilliant mycologist, Larry Evans about what makes morel mushrooms such an anomaly for mycologists and foragers alike.
1. They are inherently poisonous.
Yes, true morel mushrooms (Morchella esculenta) have been enjoyed millions of times, and when properly cooked, they are generally safe to eat. In its raw form, morels contain trehalose sugars. This is an indigestible metabolite for humans, but it is digestible by bacteria in our gut. The feasting on this sugar by our gut bacteria results in painful quantities of gas that result in an unpleasant case of indigestion. Cook these mushrooms generously in oil or butter, and those trehalose sugars will caramelize and make things much easier for your GI tract.
There is a similar story with the false morel (Gyromitra esculenta), where it contains a compound called gyromitrin that gets hydrolyzed into monomethylhydrazine, or MMH, upon ingestion and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Reportedly, this mushroom can be consumed if it's cooked properly.
Foraging for wild mushrooms for food is a fulfilling and nutritious way to feed yourself. But as always, we advise beginners to proceed with caution. If you have never had true morels, your first time should be light. Eat a small bite, wait 24 hours, if all is well, it’s safe to assume you can indulge more in these mushroom delicacies.
2. They’re genetically mysterious.
Fungi are poorly understood. But we tend to have a better grasp on the macro fungi that produce delicious mushrooms and provide us with food. That said, comparatively, morel mushrooms are more cryptic than other culinary favorites. When you find a morel mushroom patch, and your friend finds one a few yards away, our current methods cannot deduce if there are the same colony or species of fungi.
“The identity of what we call a morel is still doesn't have a real distinct edge, we're still looking at trying to understand whether we're looking at individuals or populations, are we looking at a population of morels? Or are we looking at individual morels? And so far...we can't really predict that.”
3. You can cultivate them.
Morels are a mycorrhizal fungi, meaning they have a symbiotic relationship with surrounding plants, and exchange nutrients between mycelium and plant roots. Mycorrhizal species are notoriously challenging to cultivate. Other examples are Amanita muscaria, truffles, and chanterelle, to name a few.
But, if there is enough demand and money to be made, humans have an untenable objective to figure out a way. Such is what happened with morel mushrooms. Astoundingly, you can now grow morels yourself. The tech is seeping out from the cracks of patents and trade secrets.
4. Their mycelium is wicked fast.
While it may take years for the fungus to produce mushrooms, morel mycelium is one of the fastest growing fungi. They can grow up to 1inch per day!
Want to learn more about morels, soil carbon and more fungal factoids? Check out our latest episode with Larry Evans “Know Your Fungi”.
- The infamous trichoderma mold and its contribution to soil health
- Soil carbon and the roles of fungi
- Anaerobic sterilization of agricultural waste
- Mycoremediation— specifically with particle boards and hydrocarbon degradation
- Mushroom Foraging in Bolivia
- Fungal aromatics and their indications
- Morel mushroom hunting, their perplexing genetics and best practices for cooking
- Ecosystem of the novel Amanita muscaria
- Larry Evan’s song-smithing and The Fungal Boogieman
Chip Drop: https://getchipdrop.com/
Soil Carbon Interviews with RaeLi Narisi - De-Taboo the World https://anchor.fm/detaboo
Fungal boogieman clip amazon rio: https://youtu.be/Fal47IoSpHA
Burn Morels: https://youtu.be/AmvQoYjewU0
Fungal Jungal Tours in Bolivia 2008:
Quick chanterelle: https://youtu.be/TeYPevOa8fU
Quick truffle: https://youtu.be/FgAPphm9wDo
What is going on mushroom family Welcome to another episode of the mushroom revival podcast. We are unbelievably obsessed with the healing power of mushrooms. And we are bridging the gap between You are amazing, incredible listeners and the wonderful, wacky world of mushrooms and fungi. We bring on experts and guests from all around the world to geek out with us and go on a mushroom journey deep into the depths of mycology and mushrooms. So we are super excited for everyone tuning in and chiming in with us. Let's jump in.
Today we have the well known mushroom guru, Larry Evans, who was the star of Know Your Mushrooms. And we are so excited to have you on Larry. It's been long overdue. There's the cover of no your mushrooms. That's Larry Evans. Rocking the braids, then and now. Welcome. It is good to see you. We always start off with asking our guests what brought them in to the world of mushrooms and how you decided to dedicate your whole life to fungal things. Really? Yeah. I can't believe Yeah. Crazy Crazy.
Who can remember that far back Come on, shrouded in, like, you know, when the clouds began, things like that. Like, when did I first pick up on Nashville? I was walking through the Christmas tree farm one day, and I slipped on the slippery deck. You know, that was pretty much that was the Satori that was the Zen moment that you know, opened the door. So slip and slide.
If you were to embody one mushroom, what what mushroom? Do you think that would be?
You know, I prefer to identify as a fungus and not as a mushroom.
There you go.
Do you do you have a fungus that you would identify with? Or is it just all fun? I'd like to be trike a derma. But I'm probably no no. The Most Hated. I'm kidding.
The dreaded trichoderma. Only for mushroom.
The Fungal Boogeyman.
We are your worst dream.
Trich is great for soil, right?
Where would we be without trich? Did you know that what we call the tribe determines just the imperfect half of a perfect organism. And that the other half, if you will, the other half of the tried to drum identity lives inside of a termite nest and is sexually inhibited and fed upon by termites. Everybody Everybody eats trichoderma you've probably eaten your weight and trikha derma during your lifetime. Maybe a couple times, you know, try koderma it's everywhere. And yeah, it's the bane it's the bane of cultivators. But it's actually a very misunderstood in sexually frustrated fungus. Because I don't know, we at some point, we have to get in as fungal sex. And it's really a mess. Because fungal sex is a lot more complicated than the normal mammal binary type sexuality, because they have reproductive spores that are basically clones of themselves. And we recognize this as a whole generation and all kinds of fungi go through this, but it's not a mushroom. Right. And that's really a frustrating truck kind of thing to sort of explain to people that mushroom sexuality is not the simple binary type of thing that we expect from mammals. It's more like you know, it's a mix of different gametes operating in a much more open system, I guess you'd say. So, try Ganoderma using all these analogies that I just set out for myself trike a derma, the male or the positive member of this pair is everywhere, and it is constantly reproducing itself and showing up in your culture dishes and making its vegetative self all over the place. That counterpart lives inside of a termite nest in Africa and never sees the light of day until the termite nest dies. At what point it finally gets connected with the outside air. And at that point, voila, it's got its happy little tracker derma mating pair waiting for it. Isn't that sweet? Kind of like the role of the mushroom world.
And if I've heard fungi can hold up to 70% of the carbon in soils. And it depends on the ecosystems in which they're interacting with. But is there something fungi are doing in the soils that other organisms are not when they're interacting with carbon?
Really cool point, you know, a really cool point. And it has to do with the kinds of fungi that we're looking at. And that is that in our northern temperate ecosystems, the mycorrhizal fungi that make mushrooms that we're familiar with from avenues and boletes, to chanterelles, these micro raizel mushrooms are so efficient at taking nutrients out of this organic layer, the soil layer, that it's almost pure carbon, there's nothing left. Whereas when you get in the tropics, things are a little messier, right, you've got a lot more bacterial action, you've got a lot more breakdown products. And it's you just, you don't have this nice isolation of all the nutrients that happens when you have a vacuum cleaner, like mycorrhizal fungi at work. And as a result, we pile up a lot more soil carbon up at the northern temperate areas, then you do it the tropics, which is kind of counterintuitive. But it also decomposes faster. And that's because the wood becomes BCR, brown cuboidal rot. And we're kind of approaching this topic from the side. But I believe you guys have discussed on your program before the different kinds of white and brown rot fungi. And that, you know, I guess our more primitive fungi are the brown rot fungi. And, well, there's a whole, there's a whole story about how soil carbon half and this is a soil carbon interview that I gave with reily Reishi. It goes on for about an hour. And I don't want to get into it too deep. But I did want to, in talking about soil carbon, I think it's very important to realize that the soil holds at least or more carbon than the atmosphere. And that this is one of the key ways that we can combat. Climate change, at least in the form of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere is by utilizing these intermediate steps more efficiently. What we're looking at here is how to basically sequester carbon in your soil and agricultural operations. And at the same time, produce different products, making, for example, mushrooms, building materials, filters, all manner of things that we can grow from this substrate. One example here is we do with anaerobic fermentation. We take very simple processes. And this allows us to expand the mushroom grow really effectively. All I'm doing here in this picture, is taking this big plastic barrel, and it's full of woodchips, it's full of water, that water, we put a few rocks on top of that to hold the woodchips underwater for somewhere between a week and two weeks depending on the weather conditions. You can even do it in the wintertime as you can see. And at that time. Now I've actually gone through this and taken microscopic analysis and you can actually see the change in the microbial communities over the four or five days. But by the end of the week, you have changed your community there is no oxygen left in that area. And you have nothing in there but anaerobic bacteria. At that point, we drain it and you basically have a sterile media that we can then put mushrooms onto. And so we can utilize large amounts of landscape type waste wood chips, things like this. Another step in this process is using these fungi, in this case, oyster mushrooms to break down toxic waste. Here's a project that we have going in Missoula right now. This is the we're using oyster mushroom spawn to break down particleboard waste. Alright, particleboard contains urea formaldehyde, which is a rosin that holds the saunas together into a particle board. And this stuff is toxic. If it soaks into the waterways, it becomes formalin. And that's a carcinogen. We don't like that. So instead, we can take this particle board, soak it in water, and then soak it in water, we just soak the particle board in water. And then as you can see in this pile is put together with the oyster mushrooms. And it actually grows, you can see it actively growing in this picture on the left, you can see it's actively growing on the particle board. And then in that larger picture, you can see it's actually fruiting out from amongst the particle board here and so this digests the urea formaldehyde, the oyster mushroom has peroxidase enzymes that allow it to burn that formaldehyde off and get ahold of the valuable urea the valuable nitrogen that is in this rosin. And we're left with a compost that is high in nitrogen and non toxic. So there's a couple of the things that we're that we can look at this in terms of using fungi, again, not not so much mushrooms, this is more the the mycelial and of the fungal thing. And here we have a little more backup for this subject. The soil carbon interviews with Raylene Reishi firstname.lastname@example.org. And Dr. Rick Freeman, who has done a lot with the soils aspect of this stuff.
And I think it's it's super interesting that you brought up how tropical regions don't have that much carbon in the soil. And that's super counterintuitive. I remember I went to Ecuador in 2015, I think at this point, and was studying different, you know, biodiversity and different ecosystems. And we asked, you know, our teacher and a lot of locals who read a bunch of papers. And that was the case, it's this thin, this super thin layer of topsoil, this rich organic matter, but it's very, very negligible. And when the Conquistadores came, you know, to Ecuador and other places, they clear cut it a lot of regions thinking, wow, this place is so biodiverse. It's so rich, it's so abundant, we can grow unlimited crops here, and they went to grow the crops, and they didn't do that, that well. And they're like, what is happening, you know, and they had maybe one good crop and, and these other these pests came in and they weren't as nutrient dense as they originally were hoping. And that's because the soil is really thin. Because it's, you know, there's so many plants, just recycling this carbon and other nutrients really, really, really quickly. And you have a lot of experience in you know, tropical regions, especially Bolivia. I think when we were in telluride earlier this summer, you're you're telling me that you I think you were invited to Bolivia, your first time is that right now.
I started going to Bolivia in 2005. I got an invite from the fella who was then the curator of the Bolivian National Aquarium to do some collecting down there in the muddy, protected area and I should showed up that urine every year for about 14 years, and we put about 1500 between 15 118 100 specimens on file with the National herbarium. Chachi. I worked with Dr. Tatiana, San Juan. Oh, nice. And we catalogued about 120 or 30 species of cordyceps there that had never been recorded in Bolivia. You know, when we, when I first started going down there in the early part of 2005, and whatnot, there really wasn't a whole lot of interest or awareness of cordyceps in that area. And now, and of course, I had to explain what quarter steps was, right. When I was in China, I've got my first quarter steps was, I'm walking down the street in Tibet, and there's some guy over there going, you know, he, like, brings me up these things, guys. Check it out, check it out. You know, and he's selling me the course Epson insists he's selling me the yard. So goombah, you know, the winter warm summer grass. And I thought, I thought this guy's telling me a pepper. I pick it up and I look at it, I'm going to say no pepper, is it's got legs on it. It's this guy selling me a worm here. And it's got something sticking out of it, you know? So I said, Well, I go, Well, what? What is it? You know, I go my great, my great Tibetan language or what? What? Ah, I go. And then it goes like, Okay, and then he goes, ah, I go, Okay. Give me two. And, yeah, so that was my first experience with codeception. I think a lot of people's first heard of cordyceps was back in the 80s, when every Chinese person in the world thought was greatest thing. But no, think there were three Europeans. Have you ever heard of this stuff? So that's pretty crazy. You know, now, I say cordyceps and people go, do you mean metamerism? Or over your quarter subs? or? Like, the level of discussion has changed considerably from a, it's a mushroom that eats bugs, to you know, we're talking about pathogens with functional and neuro-pathological capacities.
It's still going, you know, there's a, there's a wide audience that still, you know, unfortunately, there's a video game called The Last of Us that was the whole premise was about cordyceps affecting humans, and it was this apocalyptic thing. And so when we post about the quarter sets that we grow, that way, we get all these comments about the last of us, and, you know, oh, you trying to infect the human race and all this stuff. It's really funny. And so that that, like, brought down the global consciousness a little bit, but we're bringing it back up. There's, there's so many amazing mycologist studying entomopathogenic fungi, and that's awesome. Tatiana is great. I would love to meet her. I almost met her in Colombia a couple years ago, but it was the dry season. And she said, you know, not even worth it. Like, just stay inside. I mean, like, enjoy the nature, but you're not going to find a single mushroom. Which I didn't, unfortunately, we'll have to go back.
These things happen. Yeah, it's pretty seasonal, down there. So. But yeah, there's a lot, you know, spend a lot of time in Bolivia, we've got a lot of footage there that I've shared with you. You know, feel free to run through any of that type of stuff that you see us finding quarter steps in a lot of this footage. And that is again, something that's kind of highly seasonal. But the diversity and amount of cordyceps was completely unsuspected, I think when we first went down there. And as Tatyana has found out the presence of cordyceps, especially the sexual form of the fruiting bodies, is much more prevalent. In primary rather than secondary rainforest. There are certain species Like the Locust, the locusts to philia that is more common in a secondary forest. But most of your insect eating fungi tend to fruit more prolifically in primary rainforest.
So cool and and you, you know, we're just talking about collecting seasons and what seasons are good. Is it right that there's 14 collecting seasons in Bolivia?
I've spent 14 collecting seasons in Bolivia. Yeah. Oh, got it. Got it. Got it. Yep. And I have kind of tried to intersperse this from pretty much the winter solstice as we know it through to the spring equinox and try to you know, overlap different aspects of the season. Sometimes I'm early for the season sometimes I'm late for the season you know, there's there's no way to you know, any any type of mushroom study is a scattershot approach. But I feel that one of the real challenges in any sort of ecological study is continuity. So much ecological information is deduced or extrapolated from snapshots and from single point, single data points. And the importance of finding multiple data points over long periods of time is really essential for showing the relative importance or frequency of different individuals in an ecosystem.
Is this something that you are taught to you on are anyone involved is working to do have more comprehensive data collection and reportage?
We're so far behind the curve we're around the bend as a species the two ligands are really we're really not even in the we got it we got to figure it out yet.
What am I What am I dreaming dreams is to convert like a Sprinter van or something and and hang around tropical rainforests just collecting different quarters of species and you know, just spending months and months straight just going out. It's it's the I think it's the funniest mushroom to find. They're like little you know, for me, you just have to look in the most interesting spaces. troubles are also really fun to find or addictive kind of mushroom to hunt you once you start looking for those.
You know, you can't really eat them that well. Hard to make.
Oh, but but and they look crazy. I mean, just mushrooms popping out of the head or the back or whatever of it insect and insects. They're so biodiverse. And all these different colors and shapes and even just finding cool insects is cool enough. But then the weird mushrooms grown out of them. in weird places like underneath a leaf they're really hard to find. It's like a treasure hunt.
It's a shrew meat bug world out there, man. I tell you, do you have a favorite specimen that you found? Whenever we're looking at contaminated soils and remediating stuff people go well, what happens when the mushroom grows up? Is it is it going to be poisonous to eat? What what is going to happen to this fungus? It eats all this contaminated. You know, all these all this petroleum and stuff? Like that happens all the mushrooms is gonna get eaten by a bug.
Why should it be any different? You know, 90% of all that stuff goes goes in the belly of a bug. And 10% of it can grow its way back out.
Wow. Do you have a favorite specimen that you found in Bolivia over the 14 different collecting seasons? Every month for mushroom or fungus? in general?
Here we have a different a newt a new bunch of different stuff. My last one was we found a praying mantis egg case. Oh, with like 20 or 30 little tiny quarter steps and little quarter steps coming out of each little cell. And it was just it's in the variant. No. optic, there's a species on it, you know, but yeah, we always need to find, you know, and the thing is, it's not necessarily that we're finding new material to do. We've found someone who realizes that it's new material. Right? You know, I think that so many times we mistake a lack of presence, or lack of whoo mistake, a lack of reportage for a lack of presence.
And yoou actually co wrote the field guide Tropical Amazon, a field guide to tropical Amazon mushrooms with Daniel Winkler one, which I love. It's a it's an amazing. I mean, the pictures are awesome. And Daniel Winkler's, one of the greatest humans. What what brought on this guide? Was there not much information out there about tropical mushrooms? Or do you just want to add to the wealth of information that was already there?
No, there's very little, you know, when I started out, down there, the only thing that we had to go by was the first guide of mushrooms to Costa Rica. And then Horvath book on Patagonian fungi, those are the only two popular editions and everything else was, you know, wading through the literature and things like that. So yeah, we put this together, because we wanted to try. And I guess, catalog, the most commonly encountered species down there, because there is such a huge variety of species. In the Amazon, we just picked up the ones that were pretty much hard to miss the biggest edibles The most common, like the, the little, kind of a jungle wildflower here, you know, the combiner. Basic is the area that's growing on an insect, you know, and and these sorts of things. We, I would say that, we describe about 80 species here to the point where you could reasonably expect you to know that you've got the right thing. And that's maybe 1%, not even 1% of the species that we've come across, over there. So you know, it's a start. But you need, you need to know what is common before you can sit there and say, we found something new. Everybody says, Oh, I found something new. It's like, Oh, what's that? Oh, that's, we call that a puff ball. So, yeah, it's important to know what you got. And you know, that doesn't always happen overnight. And that's why I think it's, it's very encouraging to me, since I've been in the, you know, playing this mushroom game for a while, it's really encouraging to me to see the dramatic expansion in numbers of people that are becoming more aware of mushrooms as a resource. And I really feel that are in the next 20 years, this frontier, is that what we're looking at is, this might this frontier of mushroom understanding is going to be manifested, if you will, by people exploring the trophic levels, all the different levels, that trophic levels that we can pull out of a piece of wood, right now, you think of taking a piece of wood and burning it, and that all that wood goes into co2 and water. And instead, we can break that down into four different processes. We can we can grow oyster mushrooms on it, we can take that oyster mushroom stuff and we can grow soldier fly larvae on it, we can take that byproduct and grow Agaricus on it, we can take that final product and mix it with other composts and make it turn into a grow medium. A horticultural mix. Okay. So there we've gotten instead of just one fish, and a little bit of heat, we have four different products, protein, oils, nutrients, etc. And this is where what we call the waste stream. This is where our frontier is, this is where the next great discoveries are going to be made the real economic realizations because we have to close that cycle. We otherwise we're going to be just the same situation we had 260 million years ago when we're up to our neck in lignin because nothing can eat lignin.
Thank you white rot fungi.
And brown rot and all the other routers.
Yeah, so we met quite a bit with the really nice the interview in the history of cold and all the work that hibbott and all those folks have done to show the remarkable story of how fungi have shaped our soil and atmosphere conditions.
Thank you for sharing that and for anyone who's interested that will be in the show notes for sure. Yeah. This this is a beautiful thing about fungal knowledge and I really hope that it starts being taken more seriously within the industry.
Yeah, here Here, for example, a French outfit is growing, just investing 13 million bucks to grow soldier fly larva on the agricultural waste of Archer Daniels Midland, which is you know, basically making corn syrup, right, your high fructose corn syrup and your soybean meal and all this kind of stuff. The blow by from that is going to be feeding soldier fly larva to the tune of like, well, they're talking. They're measuring it in tons. It's a commodity. That is such good news. We have a sort of inadvertent soldier fly farm going on. in our backyard, we have a compost bin and one day suddenly there were all these larva we were like, Oh my gosh, what are these? Gross, you know, and then the more we dug into it, we found out they were soldier fly larva. And we were so thankful for this. They're actually really good looking flies in my opinion.
They really are, I think they're like, they're nice. grubs are grabs, you know that they don't eat anything, they just go to mate, and then they die. So I don't think they have mouthparts.
The nice thing is that they harvest themselves that you the soldier fly larva will consume about five pounds of garbage and turn that five pounds of garbage into one pound of soldier fly larva within a 24 hour period. And the nice thing is that the soldier flies, their instinct is to climb up to the highest point possible to molt. And so they just climb right into the vacuum, and they just, they go right on the conveyor belt. And thank you very much. Because we can control it. We like we like to make money on things, you know. We're not doing this because we like soldier flies, we're doing this because soldier flies make money out of stuff. That's not money. And that's what we're doing. I showed you with the urea formaldehyde with the with the waste product. I think this is the frontier, this is being able to find new sources of substrate for fungi from existing waste streams. There's no reason you should be paying for substrate these days. You know, maybe we'll live in a future where substrate is traded on the commodities market. Like it probably should be. But at this point, man, you can have pretty much any type of fungal substrate for cost of having them delivered even to your house. I mean, if it's literally dirt cheap, hold your power company and say, dude, next time we got a load of chips, here's my address, you know, you get a job not to stay better tell him to stop coming. That's all I can write.
Yeah, Chip drop is a really good I think it's just chip chip drop calm. And I you can just sign up, they won't tell you when they're going to drop it off. Or you can ask for like species of wood, like all hardwood or something like that. But good luck. And you know, I I actually was renting out a house for a while and I signed up for chip drop. And it said all hardwood or mostly hardwood over 50% just make sure it's over 50% and they said hey, you know, because it's so specific, you know, and it has to be a local tree job in that area. And if somebody else is closer and they have a chip drop, then we'll deliver to them. So it's like six months to a year later. I move out of the house. I'm like okay, never gonna get the chip drop. I drive by my old house like two weeks later. And there's this humongous mountain just blocking the entire driveway. They did not like find a good spot for it. They just dropped it off right in the driveway and this is the place no yeah, here it is. And I bet I bet my my new the people who are renting the house that were so confused. They're like why is there a mountain of chips but it's a great app and if you're in it if you're in a location for you know while just sign up and one day you'll be surprised you'll be like Christmas morning you'll have bunch of chips we know this is this is a nursery, we can.
One of the things that we're looking at is utilizing utility right of ways, right? If you look at any residential property, you have that eight feet to 16 feet right away that the utilities have for the telephone poles and power poles and all that kind of stuff. And you can't put a tree in there. You can't put a bush in that it's over eight feet tall, or so forth and so on. But you've got plenty of room there all along those every almost every alley in residential America, you've got all that room to grow mushroom beds. So we should be putting chip piles and having stropharia right, the garden giant or I really like the shaggy parasol. You know, I don't know if you guys are you guys. You guys down south there, you get the chlorophyll Amala dieties. But up north here in Montana ways we get chlorophyll and recode ease which is the same looks just like your shaggy parasol. Your like your your green parasol down there. But it has white spores. And it's a delicious edible. Sorry about that. But it's one that I we regularly cultivate in the garden and in the boulevard spaces here. Who put these wavy caps in the wood chips? Yeah, these rascals. Yeah, well, that's the that that's the story of Seattle. I go to go to train every year for for the marvelous mushroom fruiting seasons up there. Yeah. All these pictures on my feed. Right about now it's just prime prime harvesting right now.
Well, you know, I used to get I mean, I would say that in the 20th century anyway. A lot of the people who showed up for my classes had the kind of Last Man on Earth mentality, right? The Lone surviving human type of romantic thought was in a lot of people's head and they wanted to be able to find mushrooms because they didn't expect that they would be able to find another living thing and they needed to eat somehow. And as eclectic and far fetched as that seems. It it also kind of represented a distance from any sort of social disaster that it kept it almost imaginary. And I think within the last 10 or 15 years, I've seen a real dramatic shift in not This I'm waiting for the apocalypse. I want to be ready for the apocalypse attitude. But okay. The problem is already here, we already need to act and a lot more people are concerned with how do we remediate? How do we, you know, what have we been missing? Basically, rather than some sort of rugged individual attitude, it's more of a collective responsibility, type feeling. If that's not too, too semantic and deep. I agree. And I actually think that's great. In some ways, in some ways, it's not because, you know, some people who are pessimistic might think it's too late. But I think it puts the fire under people's butts of of, yeah, you know, we are seeing the effects of climate change and all these catastrophic events on many different levels of our society and ecosystems, and now is the time to act. And it's not some faraway event anymore. It's it's right now. And it's not Oh, in 40 years that planning for the future. I'm planning for tomorrow. Yeah, right. Or Vic, you are 40 years ago. Yeah, I we missed it by by generation, but we're still working at it. My friend Vicki Watson, once put it I think very well. She said, I'm not an I'm not a pessimist, because pessimists think it's too late to do anything. And I'm not an optimist, because optimists think nothing really needs to be done. I'm an activist. That's great. Yeah, I think that puts it together pretty well. Before we move away from Bolivia, I wanted to make this one point here, I put this on the screen, the blood red poly point, I think this is one of the more exciting stories that has come up in my Bolivia studies. And this was back about 10 years now, I guess. I encountered these mushrooms. I'm pretty familiar with the picnic forests already. It's really it's now in the Trump 80s. And as you know, Turkey tails, committees, picnic forests, all in the same group. A pretty interesting batch of functional type mushrooms. They've got some fancy biochemistry going on there.
I actually they found this mushroom in Ecuador in the Sucombios , that the Amazon micro renewal project or co renewal now sure found this mushroom growing out of a logs half soaked in an oil pit. And so potentially has a lot of good enzymes for breaking down a lot of the petroleum hydrocarbons, and potentially a good candidate for mycoremediation, as well.
I agree. And I think all your committees tend to be pretty effective in that regard. We when I was working down there in the iOS region on that we catalogued over 100 species of fungi that had peroxidase enzyme capacities.You know, but including Siberia, which was kind of remarkable, you know, yes, I Larry is have a unique type of enzyme that breaks down hydrocarbons. And then you also you have three different kinds of hydrocarbon or Excuse me, types of peroxidase enzyme, the peroxidase manganese dependent peroxidase and lactase enzymes and the lactase enzymes are the ones that tend to be made by these I laryea. Group. And the others tend to be like your lead time tinus and pleurotus, which actually turned out to be fairly closely related, believe it or not, so.
I would not have guessed.
Can you tell us about no your mushrooms if anyone has never seen this documentary? It's on Netflix, right? Yep. Beautiful. Love it. And so can you can you give us a brief synopsis of the documentary,
Ron man just kind of sits on our shoulders, we walk around different places. And he kind of visits me in Bolivia for a few minutes, and then goes into the telluride mushroom festival. And it all has a little bit of a psychedelic type of feel to it. A lots of flashbacks and cartoon characters, and music by the psychedelic lips, or excuse me, the Flaming Lips. And it's all it's all quite a quite an interesting romp for me. I guess it wasn't, as I was surprised at how well, Ron was able to make the leap from myco geek to a subculture to bring that you know, that's kind of what Ron man has done in all of his films he took with go further, he took Woody Harrelson and the the environmental, the more radical Earth first types branch of environmentalism and took a look at that. And that's, in fact, how I first met Ron was through friends of mine in the environmental movement, and then when we met up again until you right, that's when I realized or he explained to me that he was doing a project on the subculture of mushrooms. So and we were actually hanging out in telluride a few months ago, and it was dry.
It was dry in more than one way. This was the COVID version. So I think, what less than 50 people total, and our social ways. Somebody somebody you found a truffle.
You made me you, you made embody a squirrel and it was good tip like think like a squirrel look for the squirrels hear the squirrels be a squirrel.
And smell. You recommended smelling this soil and that that really funky cheese smell. I smelled it so many times and I was digging for out like if you want if you're listening to the audio, we'll throw up a video of that truffle that I found it was a cool one really shimmery. Apparently pretty rare.
Leuco Gaster. See how it listens like that? Oh, wow, that's awesome. leuco Gaster is the name that we give it now. And it it's really interesting because it had a very mild smell when you gave it to me. But as it aged, it got a little growth on it from a black type of fungus. And the smell exploded from being kind of a little bit of a smell to like, Whoa, open and on the other side of the room. And it smells like somebody just dropped a whole case of mandarin oranges. I mean, it was oh my god, it was like, it was like who broke the bottle of champagne. It was Whoa. It's a reaction of the fungus with this mold that infected it and I saw this black mold so I thought we got to check this out. So check that out, put it under scope and lo and behold is Aspergillus good old a Niger and interesting and as soon as it ran in to kind of like our dry koderma analogy as soon as this truffle got exposed to Aspergillus Niger, its fragrance went through the roof.
Do you think that was a competitive kind of enzymatic attack of kind of making more terpenes so to speak, or was it just a kind of a chemical reaction?
Yeah. In fact, you see the same thing, with yeast, yeast will grow and never make a sick compound. But if you put a fly leg on a yeast, it will immediately produce aromatic compounds of all sorts, even if that's a dead fly leg that's held by a researcher with tweezers, oh, but it's only a sterile researcher, or excuse me, if it's only a human finger, or if it's only a tweezer, it will not start making those aromatic compounds, but put that fly leg onto there. And immediately your yeast start making aromatic compounds. So yeah, this synergy between aromatic compounds and insects and fungi is well established and poorly understood. Interesting. I know I really want to smell that now. Because when we when we had it, luckily, you know, you had these little glass vials, which will show in the video. But with a little cork on top, those are great for little specimens and like little quarter sets and things like that. Not great for big mushrooms or big specimens. But the little guys perfect. Yeah, it was a little waxy, it was kind of like petroleum a little bit. It was a petroleum like or a patrol, you know, a Vaseline type of smell. Not really great when you first experienced it. But again, truffles are all about ripening. I think that video that I sent you guys shows the goudy area and the rise of pogon. And when as the spores are exposed to oxygen, they mature and change just like butter goes rancid. Over time these the oils and proteins in the the truffle. When they're exposed to air, they change and they become dramatically volatile and aromatic.
And we use some field guides until you find that you contributed to I would wager that you have one of the more extensive knowledges of Rocky Mountain ecosystems.
Here's the latest contribution anyway. Was my buddy john sir Jesse. We went and put together this hikers guide to the mushroom fitness.
That is huge bolete. Is that a real one? I thought it was photoshopped in there.
It looks photoshopped.
Well, it's all photoshopped because the Emmys are put on there too. You know, you just had to put it on the background because the robot didn't look nearly as good.
Yeah, that is that is a very bulbous bolete. And that's saying a lot for a bolete.
Yeah. And that's what we so this is the kind of stuff we were basically tried to take the 50 or 60 most common species and show people how to tell an m&e to button for example from a puff ball. And just to kind of give everybody a basic so nobody makes newbie mistakes that kind of stuff. And you know, we got it out of the last trip to the red mushroom festival do it again next year, I'm sure so.
I expect all the listeners of this podcast to be at telluride next year. Amazing festival. I mean, it is gorgeous in the mountains. I mean, it's unbelievable. It's a big family, mushroom, fungal reunion and just being out in the mountains of that high altitude. It's it's stunning. I mean, even if you don't find mushrooms I we had a great time just for just be out in the mushroom in the mountains and to look at the views and be out in nature, the fresh air and just to hang out with cool mushroom people. And that's surprising, even if you don't find mushrooms is still a good time.
I think we found your truffle, a foliota and maybe one other like Amanita I could death cap or something and I was those pretty much so a handful. Yeah. But really, it's worked out please sing. Please sing.
You've got to break into song with good old foliota. That's like this is one of the most disturbing mushrooms because it's either really good or it's really bad. And I think a large number of our poisoning calls come from somebody who thought man this is just got to be good. So raw, so wrong. Yeah, it's like so I went out of walking with my faithful dog saw a big ol yellow foliotagrowing on log and I said fee foliota free food. Hey, what a deal. Fi fi foliota reckon it'll make a good meal. Some foliota are big ones. Other ones are small. Some believers are good to eat. And some are not bad at all. I woke up in the morning feeling bad. I went to the toilet. Then I gave it all I had five foliota. Never Don't eat it again. fee foliota. We're never going to eat it again.
I love that song.
I'm glad we have a recording now because we've tried to recreate it and it's like, Oh, I forgot 50% of the lyrics. But we have a we have a reference.
Yeah, I think you're one of the funniest mycologists that I've ever met. And one of the greatest pictures of you of all time. Is you butt naked in a bathtub full of morels. Oh, yeah. Great. I think it was on the cover of a magazine. Right?
It was I have to tell you though, that was staged. It wasn't real. I don't always bathe with morels.
That's not a morning ritual for you? Oh, man, the truth comes out.
Shattered shattered another another legend down in flames.
Oh wait. I can't remember how many tellarites ago it was but it was an after party and I can't remember if it was a house you're renting but it was pretty far off from telluride. I think it was an hour drive away or something. drones and Oh, yeah. And I was with rascal Tuberville at the time, we're doing a road trip. And we're about to pull away and he goes, Oh wait, I gotta get some morels. And he goes out and I'm like, okay, you're gonna get somewhere else. He comes back with like, a five gallon bag just full of dried morels that he got from each of you. I've never seen that many morels in one place. It was okay, we're ready to go. And at that point, I'm like, wow, Larry. Is that why you can't bathe within it anymore? Rascal took you took your stash?
No, no, I've got I still have plenty. But you know, it's it's really hard to sell. The morels that have been in the tub with me.
Oh, I bet those are fragrant.
Become collectible. Become collectors items. Yeah.
There's there's some chemical reaction that happens. It's just like a whole drop the champagne. Do you have any tips? I know morels are like the mushroom that a lot of foragers who are looking for it's really prized. They taste amazing. They look really cool. Do you have any tips?
We've got the fire morels clip there. And I think that's a that's a good, you know, quick way to look at the concept of hunting fire Morales. I've been doing this pretty much every every spring for 30 years. You know, I'm out in the burn. I usually run a crew of people. Everybody You know, there's nothing more ridiculous than saying that a mushroom picker works for you. It's like herding cats. There's a I managed to buy a few morels from a few. A few individuals now and then. But it's a it's an interesting game. We range all over Canada, US and Canada. been up to Alaska. And I've also been working with Todd Asmussen, who's with Tom Volk up and lacrosse. And Todd and I have been collecting a database of Morales from different burn sites around the country and around the world. We have natural Morales from places as far away as Argentina and Russia and China. And then we have probably well over 100 different burn site locations over the last 30 years when I've been every time I go to a fire. Get some I get a few mushrooms for science and then I get mushrooms to eat and so forth and so on. And so I've been able to make a pretty extensive collections of Fire morels over have different locations and seasons. So we're working on it, you know, the the identity of what we call a morale is still doesn't have a real distinct edge, we're still looking at trying to understand whether we're looking at individuals or populations, are we looking at a population of Morales? Or are we looking at individual morels? And so far we haven't had really good, we haven't really got we can't really predict that.
How many year? Is it the next season after fire that Morales pop up? Or is it two years later? Or, you know, when should people look for Morales?
Many suggests that there are multiple species or maybe multiple individuals of Morales that show up after a fire and that the morels that show up longer than one year after fire are not the same genetic individuals as those that fruit the season after the immediate season after the fire. Yeah, the it, it becomes difficult to talk about because I have to really pick my words. And you can't really make a lot of generalizations. But we're seeing different populations of morels. not displayed over a broad geographic area more like we see isolated populations in a mosaic pattern. It's like think more like a checkerboard over 100 acres. And then that same expanded pattern over 1000 acres. And over a million acres, as opposed to like where you have one side of the divide as ponderosa pine and one side of the divide is Douglas fir. Okay, so there's you have very different sort of population distribution. And so again, are we looking at populations of populations? Are we looking at populations of individuals? And that's that's kind of a weird thing to think about. But we don't know how much diversity an individual can display. Are we looking at the diversity of an entire population? Or are we simply looking at one really rowdy mushroom.
So there's a there's a toxin in morale that a lot of people suggest you have to cook out and it's volatiles so you can cook it out and it just evaporates out. And if you eat it raw, or don't cook it enough, or stand over it while it's cooking and huff the fumes you'll get sick I and then there's certain individuals it's rare that even if you cook it really really really well. you'll still get a little stomach ache and specifically for Morales and like there's specific mushrooms that just don't work well for some people. I'm one of those people that morels unfortunately every single time that I have them even just a small amount and I've tried to cook the shit out of them. I get upset stomach and it it sucks so I gave it away to other people they're still really fun to find and morels are really interesting for me. I always find them when they give up.
God you're the great guy. We'll we'll let the keep our stash man.
Yeah, if I'm Morel hunting with you, you can have a stash you got a talent there.
Like Well, you know, it's interesting because you mentioned two things one is the modern methyl hydrazine mmh that we see in false morels and this is like a rocket fuel and it is very volatile. And so whenever people insist on eating false morels I would recommend That you first saute them in a frying pan full of not full but excuse me a fry pan with water covering the bottom. And because the mmh is volatile and is driven off at the temperature of around boiling water, and so you can eliminate this toxic monomethyl hydrazine by doing this parboiling type of process Morales and many other estimize seeds and other mushrooms in general also contain treeless sugar. Okay, and trehalose sugar is a kind of sugar that is not digestible by you by humans by mammals, but it is digestible by bacteria in your gut. And so when people eat a raw Morel This is often one of the most painful and and dramatic cases of neuronal poisoning is this triolo sugar reaction when somebody eats a raw Morel I had a guy come and do this at my Farmers Market booth one time just to be you always have people yeah yeah, some guy comes and goes oh these are cool this is expensive huh mean I go and I just look at him and go I want you to think of me in about four hours
Wow, whenever I did farmers markets you always get those people that just pick a mushroom out of your your container and just eat it raw and you're like you know eat them like like potato chips you know and and you're like No, that's not it.
That the first mushroom you ate or is that just the last mushroom you know I tried many seasons and it I always have the same reaction unfortunately just when morels no other mushroom guy so is that the tree ELO's not being completely cuts down and then maybe you don't have the gut microbiome to digest it? Is that
I have had triose related poisoning and it's like, it's like a carbonation on your mucous membranes. It's exactly what if you've ever had Coca Cola up the nose or something else, you know, we know that carbonate not a mucous membrane is not a happy thing. And that's what's happening with your, your triolo sugars, your they're being broken down directly into carbon and carbon dioxide. And so you're getting micro micro, what would you say micro carbonation in your intestine? And yes, upside down yoga help you know, inverting your bowels helps. disturbingly.
Have you ever prepared a Amanita muscaria are other like mushrooms that you have to prepare in a special way?
Before you meet in revenues every year for a while there I tell you right we do it every year but we haven't you gave me a one unprepared you just said take a bite it's a I don't think that the ones in the south are quite as dramatic as the ones you see in Russia in terms of psychoactive properties, but yeah, small amounts of aminated muskerry are usually unpleasant enough that people don't come back for more you know, but if you cut them are they delicious? Non psychoactive? Who like trout to take the test like fish? Yeah, we like to say we did this quite quite commonly in the past and I think the novelty wore off I guess. You know. We still do it occasionally up at second moose at the Canadian dollar on my bucket list. I have yet to eat really. Really, it's a good you know, it's a very tasty mushroom and seriously the stuff around Colorado, we would just slice it and boil it you know boiling water for two three minutes and throw the water out and you'd be fine. When I'm dealing with stuff from Alaska or in the Russian Far East when we were there, or boy the the water would turn red light lipstick and whoa crazy. Yeah, it was. So it's different. It's different. There's a lot of different strains. In fact, one of the pictures that I sent you were talking about boletes and Ama netus. And you do see this, this synergy, right, you often see the emanate and the bully showing up together. You see a similar type of synergy with suillus, right? Yes, your suillus and your GM Phineas, because GM Phineas kind of parasitised is the suillus mycelium. And there's, there's rumors that there's a synergy between beliefs and M and aetas. As well, I think that this, you know, we see boletes and emanate is or emanate in the muscaria group, growing together in all these different ecosystems. I've thought in Russia, I saw it in Alaska, I see it in Canada, I see it in Montana, and it's not the same species of bolete are the same species of Amanita muscaria. They seem to have their local variation of this relationship that has kind of maybe evolved in place from some initial point of contact or whatever. But it's pretty interesting to see that you see, even though it's not an Amanita muscaria, in the strict sense of the word, or a boletus edulis. In the strict sense, for example, we see boletus Grant edulis. And one of the local avenues we see boletus. What you guys have ruber sets, you know, with your, your own local variety of emanating muscaria down there, we see a similar type of thing up in Canada. And it's just this type of variability is something that I've been fortunate enough to be able to observe up and down the hemisphere. And we've actually found some of the same mushrooms in Kansas that you found in Ecuador, you know, and some, all the way from Bolivia, up to British Columbia. So it's interesting to see how certain groups and and species of mushrooms seem to be more generalists, and more able to adapt to have wide variety of temperatures and conditions. whereas others are really highly specific. And they never leave a small localized area.
We actyually have have a an interesting mushroom here in Texas called that the common name is the devil cigar fungus. And it looks like someone just smashed out a cigar. I don't know if it's true, but I heard that it only shows up in Texas, and Japan. And that's it. I don't know if you've seen it anywhere else. But it's just another instance where I don't know what it is.
I think you'll see it all the way up into Missouri. Oh, yeah. But yes, it is unusual that Japan is the only place you don't see it in other parts of Asia. And I have never collected it in Japan. But yeah, it's what I'm trying to think of other similar species that we see like your spathi malaria, we see spathi malaria that shows up in New England and all the way down into Bolivia. You know, we see puffballs in Argentina that we find in British Columbia. So yeah, there's some pretty interesting you know, population genetic studies, I think that are waiting to be done. I think that we've got a lot of what we call cryptic species, things that look like the same thing, but are actually very different. Right? subspecies? You know, I like to make the joke that people go Oh, what's all this nonsense? Oh, my God, my head hurts. I have to change the Latin name so many times on my mushrooms. You know, I change my Latin names more often. They change my underwear. Don't quote me on that. I think the important thing is, again, I said, I mean, a name is a handle, right? And when we basically borrowed the European names 100 years ago. Because we didn't have any names for mushrooms, you know? So we just brought the Europeans in and they want them back. Come on, dude. You know, we didn't say you could have them. We just borrowed the names, right. And it's kind of a joke. But really, the new genetic ability, DNA analysis has allowed us to see that a lot of the things that were morphologically similar, are actually genetically miles and miles apart. You know, and likewise, things that we would never have suspected, we're genetic identity, are exactly the same manifestation of the same organism, going through a different sexual morph, as I mentioned earlier, or something like this. we're debating right now, how does the mural spend its life? Right? You see the morale after a fire? We see them roll in the spring. But where is it after that? I mean, what's it doing for the other 11 months? And two weeks of the year? You know.
Yeah, and I'm, I'm super excited for, you know, more DNA work to classify all these different types of fungi just to really see what's going on. And then new tools, like Merlin, Sheldrake is a great soil scientist with soil mycorrhizal fungi. More more tools to actually get in there and see what's what's happening below the surface. I actually, I've been seeing a lot of videos lately of people hooking up these audio sensors, I don't really know what they are two different species of mushrooms. And they elicit different sound waves and different songs. And, you know, you can see also a lot of indigenous groups in ingesting a plant or a mushroom having a song related to each mushroom or things like that. You yourself are a musician and have many songs related to mushrooms. Do you it? Was this inspired after the mushroom? Or is this something that you do while you're you're looking for mushrooms as as like a mushroom hunting song or what? What inspired you to make music about mushrooms?
Oh, well, ah where I live in a strange and isolated place in my mind, and occasionally I rhyme managed to ride my way out. I would say that, you know, song smithing is kind of a an incidental thing. When I, when I'm teaching, I often have to turn over the same material several times or try to put a new spin on material to try and make it understandable. I had to I certainly made a different lecture to people who when we were emailing than I did when we were Facebooking than I did when we were instagramming. And so each audience or each medium changes the way that you present your, your message there, you know. So yeah, I think, you know, musically because I am repeating things in different ways. I get certain turns of phrase that turn up again and again, you know, like I'm selling. Rasmus fairy ring, Rasmus. The one in the in the marketplace. I'm selling fairing, Rasmus. It's like, it's where does it grow and go well, it's growing in the pasture now, whereas neighbors likely are the horsey in the cow. You know, or then, just like, Well, what do you do with it? Well, it's like, let's see. It's fine in a in a chick with a with a little chicken, a little chicken saucer or maybe on your buttered toast. And so these kind of these kind of phrases chase their way into it and one woman comes up to me says, Well, these are very nice mushrooms but they growing along and Are you really sure no, doggy we we done it? And it's priceless. You can't make that shit up, dude. I mean.
You can learn a lot at a farmers market about what people really think about mushrooms. It's a great social study it is and how many people will go out of their way to tell you that they don't like mushrooms. They don't do that for like pepper. or anything else, they don't eat garlic. Let me tell you, I was on the other side of the farmers market. But I had to walk all the way over here to tell you that garlic garlic is the devil.
Oh, well, no, it's a, it's a it's a means of expression. And I think that that's, you know, this is why it's exciting to me to see the decriminalization of psilocybin, in Oregon and other places. Now moving forward. As you know, I did, did some research and some work in Jamaica down there with, you know, psychedelic therapy and examining doses for potential commercialization of psilocybin, if you're going to be having recreational psilocybin, we did something called the beta test, where we basically put people in a seven mile beach in Jamaica, which is, I think, probably most people would call that a fairly party situation. And then we gave them unlimited access to psilocybin tea, in varying doses to find out what people's physiological responses and tolerance would become. And we had some very exuberant and, you know, fascinating volunteers who helped us with this subject. And it was interesting to see that we really had a very different response to psilocybin when it was in the gram, or less dosage versus when we got to a critical dose of about two grams. Once we got to the two gram or there abouts level, we got to the big laugh. And that was the thing that you you would use to characterize in other psychedelic studies is, you get this laugh period, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, where you just everything is absolutely hysterical. And this seems to have that protective effect that reset that people talk about for a psychological healing, PTSD, you know, and various sorts of, you know, traumatic experiences where people literally, they've lost their life. You know, and and that this psilocybin therapy has presented a number of people with a way to regain that physiological balance. We're kind of like, separating out the psychological and the physiological components of depression. And the mushroom pretty much erases the physiological component of depression, and allows you to meditate if you will, on the psychological reasons for your, you know, bad attitude, if you will. So it's kind of, yeah.
What a better place to do it. on a beach in Jamaica.
Yeah. Everybody's gonna hustle you, dude. You know, everybody's, you know, every 10 feet along the way. Somebody is going to come buy some weed. Hey, come over here. Come Come.
Where are you in? Montego Bay?
No, we're in. This was in Negril.
Oh, Got it. Yeah, well, there there. There are a lot of tourist hotspots where Yeah, they'll pester you like crazy because you're white and you have money in you know, it's a quick buck tourists and it's a party. It's Yeah, it's a party scene. I was hanging out in Morro Bay, which was a little more low key, and so didn't get a lot of that. I think that's, that's where Chad Carter was originally setting up the location, but he moved and had a great time, you know? And it's so important on a global scale because of COVID. And it's everyone's indoors isolated from their family, their friends, everyone has to communicate the screen. I mean, it's, it's hard. I mean, and then their business is is failing or the, the, you know, they just got laid off their job or whatever it is. I mean, I'm really curious to see this statistics admitted. Illness just skyrocket during 2020. Even myself, I, I've noticed that gotten a little more, you know, like, Damn, yeah, like it's a little more gray this year. And yeah, it's, I feel like everyone could do can have a fat dose of mushrooms and get their life back. Post 2020 I think it's, it's needed for a lot of people, not for everyone. But for most people on the planet. I think mushrooms are such a good ally, and I think could be a huge, huge benefit for for humans. Oh, yeah. Yeah.
That said, I think that, you know, probably one of the biggest benefits in a global. And the global picture, if you will, in the big scene, I would say probably the most critical function for fungi is protein, you know, as a protein source, because worldwide that is definitely one of our limiting factors and the ability to produce protein, whether it's for animal feed, or for human feed, or for any one of the other types of processes that we can use it. I think this is a very key role that fungi have, really, you know, it's all been the monopoly of the guys with 50,000 gallon steel tanks. You know, it's all been pretty much a corporate scale process at this point. And I think that the retail application of mushrooms, whether it's for food or supplement, or just simply, you know, water filtration, even I think that the application of mushrooms on a more retail scale is a is a tremendous opportunity that we have coming up here. You know, you know, I worked down in Ecuador for several years on trying to remediate the petroleum issues down there and mitigate that. And, seriously, Donald, mon Kyle and his independent groups probably accomplished more than all the other, you know, foundation funded and petroleum, negotiated projects down there. And it's simply because he was able to apply an appropriate scale to the problem. And I think now, right now, we're, we're faced with a very big problem. We look at every municipal, every municipality in the United States right now, is looking at a looming press problem with human biosolids, you know, we're also looking at a lot of a lot of our carbon waste is being oxidized, you know, we have still stupid as it is, we're piling up 100 years, hundreds and hundreds of years old trees into huge piles, and we're putting a match at the bottom of it, and returning it into white ash, co2 and water. You know, tons. This is literally tons of carbon that has been sequestered or fixed over millennia, in many cases. And at the top of a watershed, no less in in Colorado or Montana or someplace where it's hard to get carbon to the top of the watershed and then is being burned off. You know, we're losing all the water retention ability, all the nutrient exchange capacity that these, this would this biochar or this brown, cuboid or rot. These are the natural components of our northern soils. The ones that you just mentioned earlier, are our prime sequestering sequestration of carbon. These are prime carbon sinks in the whole world. We don't have a better carbon sink than we do here in North America, you know, and you can go out into the forest, just about anywhere in the Columbia Basin and walk through an old gross stand and see how many feet of organic matter we have lost since the Europeans showed up, I mean, you can see, you can literally see the marks on the stumps and other stuff, how high up the soil used to be versus where it is now.
And this brings it full circle of what we're talking about, in the beginning of what you've seen the change of telluride of kind of the global consciousness of, you know, let's prepare for 40 years down the line of something going to happen to now it's, it's happening, and we need to band together and think big, you know, this isn't a small problem anymore that we can fix, by all, you know, riding a bike One day, a week, instead of riding our car. You know, this is a huge, huge issue on many different fronts.
And we're which as denial, you know, for so long, we dealt with our fossil fuel addiction problem, the same way that a junkie deals with an addiction problem, you know, it's like, we simply denied it happened, you know, we don't really have an automobile problem. Look, everybody else is doing it. You know? And we've come to the point now, where we don't have that we don't we denial isn't working anymore. And we tried denial on this COVID thing that that didn't work very good. You know, it doesn't seem to be a very effective strategy. So you know, this this cultural habit that we have about denial, as as an acceptable approach to a problem. Hopefully, we're getting away from that, hopefully, we're learning.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mycologist wanting to get into the field? Or maybe they are already in the field and want to have a greater impact for the world?
Get On your mark, get set? Go! No, seriously, it's it's, it's awesome. I'm just I'm just delighted I look at the number of species of mushrooms that have commercial application from, you know, I mean, just pick any mushroom, and any one of the fungal bogie songs, every single one of them has, has an economic potential that has not even been close to realizing this country. years ago, 2016, maybe there was an economic study that described the role of mushrooms in the American economy. And they looked at the amount of consumption that Americans had of mushrooms, and they've The, the ballpark number they put out, I believe was $67 billion worth of economics, we're not being utilized. Because Americans had no savvy about mushrooms, if we basically bought as many mushrooms as Europeans bought, there'd be a $67 billion bump in our economy. And I mean, this we're getting there. It's all hypothetical stuff, you know, but you see what I'm getting at, you know, we could be spending, we could be directing a lot more of our resources in this direction, rather than towards fast food or something else, you know, and I think that you can also see, you know, think of it we didn't need in 2013 2014. Your personal information wasn't worth the paper you could print it on. But by 2017, that was part of a multi billion dollar industry in selling your personal information. So we are able to monetize a huge chunk of our human fiction in just three years. By doing that, think of what we can do if we can monetize carbon sequestration. If we can monetize soil building, if we can monetize, you know, this type of trophic stacking this type of utilization of organic material all the way down and starts with us and policymakers. I'd never I'd never would have thought I'd see the day where you know, these big fast food chains are offering plant basedalternatives.
Yeah, like McDonald's and Burger King and Dunkin Donuts and all these KFC all these places offering, you know, a plant or meatless version. It's not perfect yet, but I think I'm reading somewhere.
Sign me up for the soldier fly burger. Oh, yeah.
Half soldier fly half sheet hockey mushroom or morels. Yes, for sure. Yeah.
Yeah, I really enjoyed the silkworm larva. They sold those on Oh, interesting. On the street, well, you know, then the silkworms to get the silk off of them and put them in warm water, right to make them do their thing. They're left with all these little bugs. And the poorest of the poor guys go out and take these out on the street. And there's there's such a low quality food, although they're really tasty and buttery and, and delicious. But they have a status problem, you know, in Korea. So the guys go out there and they hit that it's you, they give you a little Dart and they spin a little wheel. And you throw the dart on the wheel, and whatever it sticks on. That's how much you pay him. And so there's a chance you won't pay him anything. And there's a chance you might pay him five bucks for that lousy cone, but you know, yeah, or, you know, Thailand and China, they'll inject them with kortesis militaris mycelium, and they'll grow kortesis militaris out of them.
Yeah, wasn't there a silk farm right down the road from mushroom revival?
And yeah, they're in South Deerfield where we made our cordyceps farm, there was a really old silk factory. And that was like, it was booming. And we found a ton, of course, a small terrace around there, just like a few minutes down the road. Who knows? So we have one final question that we ask all of our guests on our show. And I'll change the wording of it just for you. If fungi had the microphone, and could say one thing to the whole human race, what would they say?
I don't have a mouth. Actually, oh, speaking smells. Also, just aside, this is a really interesting time to take a take a minute and think about the nature of perception. And think about the fact that as monkeys that are totally obsessed with our visual input, we receive a very different picture of the world than something like a grizzly bear, for example, which a dog has 300 times as much olfactory sensors, as we do, a grizzly bear has 3000 times, wow. Okay, so a grizzly bear is not perceiving, he's not living in the same world that you and I are. He's living in a world of aromas. And his world is about five miles at the outside, and it's a bull's eye that moves in as he can pick up different sense. A fungus doesn't have a mouth, it doesn't have an ear, it doesn't have an eye, it doesn't have any sort of visual recognition. That's why fungus doesn't give a shit what is mushroom looks like? Who cares? You know, who's looking at it, you know, the mushroom? The mushroom gets all its information from right here. It gets it all from your biosensors from your, what we call, smell and taste. But all the mushroom gets is about chemical receptors and electromagnetic sensors. We know they can, how do we know that something can perceive something? You know, if it displays a color, we think we'll probably that insect if it displays a red it can probably perceive a red, you know, and or fungus. It can obviously perceive the radiation in Chernobyl, it's able to take that energy and turn it into itself it's able to turn it into organic material. So it must be able to perceive that if you will, in that regard. And so you know this is this is our challenge here is to see how does a thing like a fungus perceive or how do organisms operate in the universe of their own perception? How does the perception of a sow bug or an earthworm differ from that of a predator beetle? Or a bird? For example, you know, when you start to imagine the perceptual filters or the perceptual feed that an organism gets, then you start to realize the factors that it it can if it can't perceive it, it can't chase it. So we reverse engineer that we find out what something can perceive by what it seems to be influenced by?
And will we ever know for sure?
If you take enough mushrooms.
Little more, a little more, more the next day? A little more on? Yeah, good, you got a ways to go, though, we're not done.
I saw this beautiful infographic years ago, and I've tried to find it again. But basically, it took like a dog, a human and a few other organisms and gave sort of an aura of their perception. So it showed that humans can see up to this length away from them, they can hear this far, they can smell this far. And each sense was different colors, you could really get the scope of like the volume of perception that that particular organism was capable of perceiving, and just comparing that from human to dogs, Stark, extremely Stark, we are mammals, there's actually a lot in common that we have with canines. So I cannot even imagine trying to recreate that for something like a fungus, I don't even think we would have the proper census to add to that graph, right?
The sense of scale, right? Because, I mean, imagine that you're moving forever, through an impossibly dense and, you know, infinite medium. And the only thing is that there's a little bit different flavor in one direction than the other direction. You know, when you start to look at that you realize what a fantastically rich information source electromagnetics must be providing for these organisms that we know very well equipped for.
Maybe when we become cyborgs, we can upgrade to different sensors. Get I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna buy the electromagnetism pack. Yeah.
See who has the strongest Wi Fi?
So where can people follow you work problem. As soon as I get next to electromagnetic devices, they short out, they fuck up. I mean, I just stand close to the thing where you put your card in. If I I step back in the guts, why did you step back? I guess you want me to step forward, I step forward, the whole thing goes on the fritz. Okay, step back. We'll try it again. You know?
So where can people follow your work? Do you have a website? I know the know your mushrooms documentary? We talked about a few of the books that you contributed to or wrote.
Yeah, um, you can, you can always write me I'll put my address here, up. It's Post Office Box 7306 in Missoula, Montana. 59807. And, of course, you can always check me out fungal jungle at gmail, or fungal jungle on the YouTube. I've got a YouTube channel so you can go there. And check out stuff like that. I'm on Facebook and Instagram and all that kind of stuff, but it's so tiresome to try and document your your own life. I've need to hire somebody to do that shit. I'm too busy to talk.
Oh, you can add this podcast to your portfolio. If you have extra morels just send him send them over to Larry. Yeah, thank you. Gotcha. Sure.
That was a great episode. I want to thank everyone for tuning in and trimming in with us to another episode of the mushroom or Bible podcast. We couldn't do without you. So thank you, all of our listeners, wherever you're tuning in from all over the globe. We have listeners all over the map. So we're super super super grateful for you if you're just listening to audio on say your on Apple iTunes, please leave a review and subscribe. We have actually the number one highest rated mushroom podcast out there. on Apple, iTunes and other platforms. So if you're also on there, head over to YouTube because we have a whole video component to this episode and other feature and past episodes. So check that out. If you're on YouTube Hello click that subscribe button, leave a comment or review we'd love to hear from you. Positive or negative. We just want to hear what your thoughts are and if you have any requests for future topics that we can dive out about or guests that you want us to bring on a show please reach out and go to mushroom revival.com we have a whole line of functional mushroom products and more coming soon. A lot of blog posts you can read into and and and all the rest of our podcasts with transcripts and show notes. Each podcast is a wormhole in and of itself so we welcome you to jump in and enjoy yourself. Thanks as always mush love and may the spores be with you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai