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Mushrooms - Why Mushrooms Could Be Considered As Both Heaven and Hell on Earth!

Updated on September 26, 2011
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A mystery always surrounds the mushroom, no wonder they were considered as “Objects of mystery”, by the initial men who walked the earth, and continues to be so, even today.Mushrooms were consumed as food even before civilization as we know it, came into existence. The admiration and abhorrence that mushroom continues to invoke in mortals is spellbinding. Mushrooms continue to withhold so many a secret, which continuous research is shedding light upon, with the passing days.

There is a bountiful of poisonous mushroom growing in the wild in comparison to the edible varieties of mushroom. The mystery of the mushroom continues in its cultivation process as well. Only a few species of edible mushrooms have been ‘tamed’ for commercial cultivation. Scientists continue to rack their brains in finding ways and means of cultivating many edible species, whose only current source of obtainment, is the wild.

Mushrooms are saprophytic in nature; they specialize in decomposing organic plant matter, the role they play in nature is thus very crucial. They decompose dead and decaying wood into matter that could be assimilated back by living plants and trees. They thus preserve forests, so long as man keeps his dirty hands off the forests.

The role that mushrooms play in the health and nutrition of humans continues to be explored. Some are known, and most of them unknown. Who knows, perhaps combating of the AIDS virus lies hidden in the mysteries of the mushroom! Their anti-cancer properties have been holding scientists in its grip for the last few decades.

Mychorrhizal gourmet mushrooms like Matsutake (it’s a wild edible mushroom fromJapan, Tricholoma magnivelare), the Boletus species, truffles(Tuber species), and Chanterrelles (wild edible mushroom, Cantherellus cibarius) are indicators of forest health, apart from being one amongst the tastiest of mushrooms. The taste of mushrooms is definitely magical and heavenly. No wonder they are referred to as the ‘food of the Gods’.

Their evasiveness in revealing their ways of being cultivated in controlled environments adds to their exoticness. Only the royalty had access to mushrooms once upon a time, since all the mushrooms collected from the wild went directly to feed their tastes. Cultivating them in the way any other vegetable or fruit or flower were cultivated was altogether an impossible task for centuries. They were available for harvesting, well, only when they made themselves available for harvesting in the wild. As mentioned earlier, many an edible mushroom’s commercial cultivation process has never been arrived at, they remain evasive and stubborn.

Bioremediation process is that special ability some mushrooms possess to detoxify a contaminated environment. The mycelial networks of mushrooms have known to act as mycofilters in nature. Man is discovering newer means of cleansing up the mess he has been causing.

The medicinal properties of certain species of mushroom, like Ganoderma, continue to astonish the scientific community. The medicinal properties include immune enhancement, anti-cancerous, diet remedies for diabetics, cholesterol control, the list goes on. The ability of mushrooms rich in selenium to slow down the progression of AIDS has been gaining a lot of importance in the recent years; it is a work in progress. We could look forward to some astonishing news in the near future, let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The more ‘tamed’ mushrooms like button, oyster, paddy straw, shiitake, milky mushroom, etc have become a symbol of reaping protein from waste. Farm wastes have found a new way of being transformed to currency, thanks to the patient research of the scientific community. The technology that has been developed to cultivate these edible species of mushroom in a controlled environment is proving to be newer means of eradicating poverty from the rural masses. It is paving the way for a rural agro-industry.

If it’s farm ‘waste’ from which commercial cultivation of mushroom is achieved, well, the waste of mushroom cultivation, also known as spent mushroom substrate, or SMS for short, could be further converted into nutrient rich organic manure through the process of vermicomposting. Thus it so becomes that, not only does the output of vermicomposting help maintain good soil health, it becomes an additional source of income.

If that sounds like heaven, the hell part is in consuming mushrooms which fall into the non-edible or poisonous category. It would always be a safer bet to consume mushrooms which are available in the market, well, in the packed form, than going out into the wild to hunt for mushrooms. Unless you know how to identify an edible mushroom from the poisonous one, you would be putting your life on the line. Distinguishing the edible ones from the non-edible ones is a confusing task, even for the trained personnel from the scientific community.

The infamous Psilocybin Cubensis, also known as Magic Mushroom, falls into the poisonous category. Man is known to go to any extent to seek his share of pleasure, hence, his experiments with this poisonous mushroom too.

Whilst man continues to experience heaven and hell with his mushroom consumption, mushrooms on their part continue in their quest to keep this world ‘green’, pray let’s leave some green patch around for mushrooms to keep it green.

An interesting mushroom product

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    • surra profile imageAUTHOR

      surra 

      6 years ago from Bangalore, INDIA

      Thank you Ardie.:-) There are many more hubs on mushroom health benefits on its way.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 

      6 years ago from Neverland

      I'm always amazed by the numerous health benefits of whole foods. Now I can add the mushroom to my goody-bag of healthy eating. I had no idea just how beneficial mushes could be. Thanks for sharing the information :)

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