In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms

Doug Bierend. Chelsea Green, $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60358-979-6
Journalist Bierend introduces readers to a worldwide community that revolves around fungi in this comprehensive and enthusiastic debut. “If I am any kind of -ist at all,” Bierend writes, “it is a generalist” when it comes to fungi, and here he aims to prove that one does need to be an “expert” to “do beautiful things with and about fungi.” Readers join the author on an eye-opening tromp through the woods in search of mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and follow him on trips to mushroom festivals (among them, the Telluride Mushroom Festival, held since 1980). Bierend peers into the dark side of fungi (such as poisonous “death caps”) and explains “microdosing” on psychedelic mushrooms, a practice he suggests is de rigueur in the technology industry. Though at times technical, Bierend’s survey offers glimpses into mushroom-centric communities across the globe: He visits the POC Fungi Community at an event in the Adirondacks and writes of a group in Ecuador attempting to use fungi to treat cancer. Beyond merely being edible, Bierend writes, mushrooms’ “most promising power” is their ability to “bring people together, and to shift perspectives.” This fascinating, informative look into a unique subculture and the fungi at its center is a real treat. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2020
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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