Week 2 Blog 2: Mycelium

This week the topics we discussed were fungus, scoby, and mycelium. As I conducted more research on what and how mycelium is used for, I was fascinated with what I came across. Mycelium is a vegetative structure of fungi. It functions as a root system or web-like structure that can be identified by filaments called hyphae which can grow on whatever substrate the fungus itself is growing on. It is significantly helpful for the mushroom as it collects its required nutrients for the fungus by breaking down the food sources in the substrate (Real Mushrooms). However, its properties are also being explored by humans, who are using it in innovative and resourceful ways.

As it becomes more apparent, Meat and its market are significantly harmful to our planet. In order to produce enough meat to supply the demand, animals are held in unsuitable environments and eventually killed in brutal ways; they are fed antibiotics which then raise the risk of the development of antibiotic resistance in humans. Additionally, there is a vast amount of carbon emissions and an enormous carbon footprint created in order to continue the selling and transferring of meat products (What are the problems with meat consumption for you and the environment?). However, what if mycelium is our answer to this ever-developing and worsening conditions of the meat industry? 

What if mycelium could be used to create meatless products? Companies such as “Eat Meati” and “My Forest Foods” did just that. “Eat Meati” develop nutrient-rich mycelium in order to create 95% mushroom root whole-cut meat alternative products. On their website, it is noted that their products are grown in a “clean environment,” which in turn is the opposite of the meat industry. It is free of antibiotics, pesticides, cages, and growth hormones. The products are also a complete protein, fibrous, and have the nutrients and vitamins that can be found inside of animal meat, such as iron and zinc (What is Meati™?). 

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Similarly, “My Forest Foods” also uses mycelium to create alternative whole-cut meat products, including bacon (Foods). The products are accessible in supermarkets and grocery stores such as Sprouts.

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While fascinating, creating alternative meat products is not the only impressive way that mycelium can be used to improve the conditions of our planet and environment. A company named “Ecovative” is using mycelium to create biodegradable products and materials (Ecovative). They use the vast properties of different mycelium to develop various biodegradable products. Some of the properties that are highly useful of mycelium are that it is flexible, strong, light, fire-resistant, and water-repellent. For example, they have created packaging from a mixture of mycelium and other biodegradable products to replace a significant amount of non-reusable and non-degradable packaging, such as Styrofoam usage in the world. After the packaging serves its initial purpose, it can be biodegraded, unlike packaging, such as plastic or Styrofoam, which end up in the oceans and pollute the environment (Mushroom packaging). 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1UjGTnWGYU

It is incredible to learn about the different resourceful and engaging ways that humans have used and continue to develop new ways to benefit from the fantastic properties of mycelium.

Sources 

Ecovative, https://www.ecovative.com/. 

Foods, MyForest. “Atlast Food Co.. Reintroduces Itself as MyForest™ Foods Co..” MyFOREST FOODS, MyFOREST FOODS, 24 Feb. 2022, https://myforestfoods.com/myblog/blog-atlast-name-change. 

Hussain, Grace. “What Are the Problems with Meat Consumption for You and the Environment?” Sentient Media, 2 Nov. 2022, https://sentientmedia.org/problems-with-meat-consumption/. 

“Mushroom Packaging.” Mushroom Packaging, https://mushroompackaging.com/. 

Real Mushrooms. “Mushroom Mycelium: What It Is & How It Can Be Useful to Humans.” Real Mushrooms, 20 July 2022, https://www.realmushrooms.com/mushroom-mycelium-uses/. 

“What Is Meati™?” What Is Meati™? | Meati Foods, https://meati.com/what-is-meati/?gclid=CjwKCAjw9J2iBhBPEiwAErwpeTItSaZO4rxrVkI3cjyYEFdy1aIHVOmr_anqmWes70aNkpyj9tSZOhoCss4QAvD_BwE. 

YouTube, YouTube, 2 Feb. 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1UjGTnWGYU. Accessed 20 Apr. 2023.