Quality mushrooms can taste almost meaty. Melded into a juicy hamburger they add another layer of flavor.
In yet one more example of how good food comes from the magical world of good soil, and how good soil helps the world, we are seeing a collaboration of world experts setting up an experiment, using mushrooms from fungal mycelium, to clean up radiation at the recently failed nuclear plants in Japan.
Hyper-accumulating mycorrhizal mushrooms have been documented to absorb--via the mycelium--, and concentrate, radioactive Cesium 137 more than 10,000-fold over ambient background levels.
Since people will not soon be able to live around the failed nuclear power plants, due to elevated radiation fallout accumulated in the earthquake and tsunami debris, it is being proposed to set aside that land as The Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone.
The wood from houses and trees would be ground up and spread at least one or two feet thick and encouraged to compost. Specific mushroom strains would then be cultivated.
Japan is ahead of most of the world regarding the use of biochar, which is being discussed as an addition to the compost.
Compost, mushrooms, and biochar just might efficiently and economically clean up the radiation so that the land can again be lived on. And used to grow safe food.
Paul Stamets is largely responsible for bringing the power of mushrooms and their fungal hyphae to the forefront of academic research and debate.
A former Washington logger, Stamets has become an unconventional scientist proposing the wise use of old growth American rain forests for their value in medical and remedial properties.
He developed a replicable strain of rainforest mushrooms as reported in Jane's Defense Weekly which "completely and efficiently degrade(d)" VX and sarin the potent nerve gases that then dictator Saddam Hussein loaded into his warheads.
He has earned the academia accreditation of doctorate and written several acclaimed books. Check out his 2005 effort "Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World," Ten Speed Press, Berkely, California.
Dr. Stamets has also been well received in his international lectures about mycological metaphors.
What he terms "fungal intelligence" provides a framework for understanding everything from string theory in modern physics to the structure of the internet.
Perhaps some future summer day we might be at a barbecue eating hamburgers and discussing how compost, mushrooms, and biochar saved both the planet and Alaska farms, not to mention the internet.