The magic of fungi
Over the next few months, we'll regularly designate a week to talk about the magic of fungi—all kinds of mushrooms, from the little mycelium holding our world together, to the kind you find in your food, to the ones that really transport you. Mushrooms, of all kinds, are powerful spirits. They create side by side with us and reveal the depth of the world’s interconnectedness. As they connect the plant world to itself, they can also connect us to the beautiful mystery inside and outside our individual selves.
The first fascinating fungi we’ll approach is the chaga mushroom. Chaga mushrooms grow on birch trees in northern climates, and they have an incredible symbiotic relationship with their hosts. If a chaga is inserted into a dying birch, that tree will recover. Indigenous peoples in Siberia have traditionally used chaga for stamina and longevity. These indigenous Siberians have lived to 90-110 years old, which is 50-60 years longer than other groups in similar climates! Scientifically, chaga has the highest levels of one particularly powerful antioxidant, SOD, that is directly connected to long life and overall human health. Chaga harnesses and provides powerful life energy. It is truly a great plant spirit.
Fungi can help us ease into overall health while also delighting our taste buds. The delicate, long-stemmed enoki mushroom does both. Used in China and Japan for over two thousand years, the enoki is prized for its flavor and nutrient richness. The mushrooms have a lively crunchy texture, allowing them to be eaten fresh. They are also delicious in soups, curries, or stir-fries. In traditional Chinese medicine, the enoki is medicine for intestinal problems and liver disease. The enoki mushroom reminds us that sometimes the medicine tastes right.