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Welcome to Issue Two

Microscopic enlargement of mycelium.
Welcome to issue two
Martin Powell, Editor

There is no doubt that the last few months have been difficult ones and continue to be so for many. From a time when the world seemed to be getting smaller with increasing ease of travel (albeit with corresponding environmental impacts) and the increasing integration of the global economy, we are now facing a world that is more and more fragmented, with growing moves towards economic isolation and, currently at least, significant restrictions on international movement.

This distance between countries is in turn fostering reduced understanding between peoples, sometimes encouraged by leaders for their own ends. While there is little we can do as individuals to change global geopolitics directly (although not, as our interview with Guiliana Furci proves, nothing), by fostering connections between people around the world it is our hope that The Mushroom can in some small way help counteract the negative consequences of the increased competition between countries and systems, drawing inspiration from the way that mushroom mycelium facilitates communication and sharing in nature.

Although small-scale and home cultivation is booming, it remains the case that China is overwhelmingly the world’s number one mushroom producer. Over the years I have been lucky enough to visit the main mushroom growing areas in China on a number of occasions and get to see the industry at first hand, as well as enjoying many delicious meals of freshly cooked mushrooms. Each time I am there I wish there was some way of giving other enthusiasts a similar insight into this rich heritage. I still hope that one day this will be possible but in the meantime I have tried to share some of the sights and insights gained on a recent visit in ‘Travels Through China’s Mushroom Heartlands’.

Alongside growing interest in cultivating mushrooms during the pandemic there has also been a great deal of interest in foraging mushrooms as part of a broader reconnection with the outdoors. As we reconnect we cannot help but witness that at the same time as our lives are turned upside down by the pandemic the world itself is being turned upside down by the more profound challenge of climate change, as forager Fred Gillam eloquently reminds us in ‘A World Turned Upside Down’.

With the increased interest in mushrooms and their health benefits has come a proliferation of mushroom products. To help those wishing to understand more about what is in them, we present in this issue an overview of the main forms of mushroom supplement, by industry expert Zhang Yi and in future issues will be taking an in-depth look at the growing and processing of individual species.

And in case we forget that mushrooms are not just for humans we review their growing use in pet and animal health in ‘Paws and Polypores’ while continuing the international focus we follow a log in India through the seasons, talk to an inspiring mushroom advocate from Chile and a medicinal chef from New York. Together with photos, mushroom music and a fortifying mushroom broth I hope that this second issue will help keep us nourished and connected as we start to cautiously emerge from our extended hibernation and confront the challenges that lie ahead.

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Issue 02