Buy Magic Mushrooms: Fans of Super Mario play with them. Doctors study them. Chefs around the world cook with them. They appear overnight, disappear just as fast and leave no trace of their visit. Students of this world are called mycologists and now, the fungus is being looked at as a possible treatment for cancer, PTSD-post-traumatic stress disorder and some psychological disorders.
Mushrooms, sometimes called toadstools, are fleshy bodies of fungus that grow above ground on soil or on a food source. They are separated from the plant world in a kingdom all their own called Myceteae because they do not contain chlorophyll like green plants.
Without the process of photosynthesis, some mushrooms obtain nutrients by breaking down organic matter or by feeding from higher plants. These are known as decomposers. Another sector attacks living plants to kill and consume them and they are called parasites. Edible and poisonous varieties are mycorrhizal and are found on or near roots of trees such as oaks, pines and firs.
For humans, mushrooms may do one of three things-nourish, heal or poison. Few are benign. The three most popular edible versions of this ‘meat of the vegetable world’ are the oyster, morel and chanterelles.
They are used extensively in cuisine from China, Korea, Japan and India. In fact, China is the world’s largest producer cultivating over half of all mushrooms consumed worldwide. Most of the edible variety in our supermarkets have been grown commercially on farms and include shiitake, portobello and enoki.