Mushrooms… they’re great in risotto and delicious on pizza.  But could they have a greater impact on our health and environment?  Vice Munchies talked to a man who believes so…

“Paul Stamets claims that mushrooms can save the world. I’m not so sure about universal salvation through fungal means, but I do enjoy cooking with them, so I decided to call Paul up for some cooking tips. I also happen to have an autoimmune disease, and I was intrigued by Paul’s TED talk about the incredible potential of fungi and extensive writing on the nutritional and medicinal properties of mushrooms in his book, Mycelium Running.

I went to the guru of ‘shrooms in search of food medicine, albeit with my skeptic wits about me. I asked him to share some culinary tips that might also help ease my symptoms and prevent the progression of my disease. Take this all with a grain of salt—literally, because everything tastes better with salt—and also figuratively, because the science of fungi is still tenuous.

Paul will be the first to admit that he is eccentric. He is drawn to mushrooms for their mystery and danger as much as for their potential to help the human race. He often wears a hat made out of mushrooms. I asked, “Does it fall apart in the rain? Does it smell bad when it gets wet, like leather or wool?” He laughed as though to suggest my naiveté in the face of such fungal magic, then told me that the hat was crafted from Amadou, a hoof conk polypore found in Transylvania, and the same mushroom used by our prehistoric ancestors to transport fire. Back before the Common Era, Hippocrates wrote of the mushroom’s anti-inflammatory properties.”


[Read more at Vice Munchies, photo via Paul Stamets]