Mushroom Boom: How Shrooms Took the Culture by Storm
When most people think of mushrooms, they think of food. When people think of mushrooms as food, they usually think of buttons: white or brown, cremini or portobello – it’s all the same thing. Smallhold and mushroom farms like them are working to change that by bringing a greater variety of fungi to market, including blue and yellow oysters, maitake, and trumpets. All of these mushrooms have distinct flavour profiles and qualities, and their expanding popularity is elevating mushrooms to new heights as a meat substitute and a vital cuisine in their own right.
There are also many exciting chefs and foodies who are advancing mushrooms in their cuisine and in public perception. Clark Barlowe earned his name serving wild mushrooms in innovative new ways (like ice cream) at North Carolina’s Heirloom, before heading to Oregon, the US mushroom capital. Sophia Roe, a chef, and James Beard- an award-winning food journalist- discuss how mushrooms can teach us all to eat more consciously on their show Counter Space.
Mushrooms For More Than Food?
However, food is only one aspect of the mushroom boom. People eat mushrooms not only for nutrition but also for a variety of health benefits. “Functional mushrooms” are any mushrooms that provide health benefits in addition to their nutritional worth. They have a long history—traditional Chinese herbalism has long used mushrooms—but the world is reexamining the ways fungus might help us be healthy as part of the bigger shroom boom.
Rainbo is a Canadian manufacturer of functional mushrooms. Its founder, Tonya Papanikolov, a certified nutritionist, wanted to spread the word about the health advantages and culture of mushrooms, or, as Rainbo’s mission statement puts it, “to upgrade humanity with fungi.” According to Papanikolov, there are so many ways that humans might not only learn from them but also partner with them. To that end, Rainbo provides a slew of tinctures containing the functional mushroom gallery’s biggest stars. For thousands of years, Reishi has been utilised to improve the immune system and combat stress and fatigue. Lion’s mane is a nootropic supplement that increases cognitive performance, and some research indicates that it may be a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
The most remarkable work in modern mushrooms, however, is not about what they can do for our bodies, but about what we can build with them. Mushrooms have the potential to be a viable, long-term replacement for plastic, and people are building lots of stuff with them. Much of what is produced is appealing—packaging, building materials—but it is frequently the unappealing aspects of the supply chain that have the greatest environmental impact. In that spirit, IKEA committed early on to switching to mushroom-based packaging materials.
And, of course, mushrooms are being used to make some seriously cool stuff. Manufacturers are using mycelium to produce leather in the same way that shipping containers are made. This leather is becoming increasingly popular in the fashion world for functional clothes and accessories. EDEN Power Corp., an eco-friendly streetwear brand, categorizes its whole product page as “FUNGUS yeasts, molds, and mushrooms.” They sell planters and wine coolers made from mycelium in addition to recycled cotton hats, shirts, and sweats. Most amazing of all, they sell an “amadou” hat, a typical Transylvanian tulip-shaped cap. Because it is entirely composed of mushrooms, it has a spongy texture.
Speaking of changing minds, psychedelic mushrooms play a significant role in the wellness industry. For several years now, there has been a psychedelic revival. From Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind to the surge in interest in psychedelic therapies, society is embracing mind-altering substances with more enthusiasm and vision than at any time since the 1960s. Psilocybin is a big part of this; magic mushrooms have gotten a lot of attention in terms of law, study, and media coverage. Though psychedelics remain banned in parts of the world, new research and shifting attitudes toward them are, in turn, shifting attitudes toward psilocybin. Shrooms have been found in studies by Johns Hopkins and NYU to effectively cure a variety of mental health conditions such as depression, PTSD, and alcoholism.
After the pandemic hit, shroom use around the world skyrocketed. Why? Because it was an antidote to people’s existential crises in trying to understand what was going on in the world and why their worlds came crashing down on them. Depression hit people hard, as did stress, anxiety, and all kinds of other negative emotions. Combine all of this in a person now confined to their living space without social interaction and normal daily routines, and you have a pretty frazzled individual. With such a huge variety of shrooms edibles in the form of chocolate bars, gummies, drink mixes, cookies, teas, etc., it’s no wonder shroom use has increased so much considering how easy it is to purchase and ingest them.
Similarly to how wellness warriors have embraced marijuana—often in the form of edibles and gummies—mushrooms have emerged as the drug of choice for a certain class of start-up founders and yoga devotees. Chocolate’s popularity has given the psychedelic a more relaxed, welcoming air.
Mushrooms, strange as they may appear, have a lot to teach us. They direct our attention to what is under the surface, to the numerous invisible lives that affect the world around us. They entice us out of our fantasies and encourage us to consider the different possibilities of life. Mushrooms provide a model for a healthy way of being in our own lives, interactions with others, and relationships with the world. That’s nothing new in the lengthy history of fungal evolution, but it may be novel for a generation eager to rethink the way it eats and coexists.
We hope you found this article insightful and that it opens your mind to new possibilities when it comes to shrooms. We have a variety of top grade dried shrooms in our online shrooms dispensary, as well as microdose capsules, and delicious shrooms edibles.
If you want to learn more about how magic mushrooms are influencing culture, read our recent article about Shrooms Trends in Canada in 2023 here.