When we consider mushrooms and the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca, the very first thing which traditionally comes in your thoughts is María Sabina, Huautla de Jiménez and hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms. But slowly that’s all changing as a result of the groundbreaking work of Josefina Jiménez and Johann Mathieu in mycology, through their company, Mico-lógica.
Located in the village of Benito Juárez, situated in Oaxaca’s Ixtlán district (more commonly referred to as the Sierra Norte, the state’s main ecotourism region), Mico-lógica’s mission is threefold: to teach both Mexicans and visitors to the country in the low-cost cultivation of a variety of mushroom species; to educate concerning the medicinal, nutritional and environmental (sustainable) value of mushrooms; and to conduct ongoing research regarding optimum climatic regions and the diversity of substrata for mushroom culture.
The French-born Mathieu moved to Mexico, and actually to Huautla de Jiménez, in 2005. “Yes, coming all the way to Mexico from France to pursue my curiosity about mushrooms may seem like quite a distance traveling,” Mathieu explained in a recent interview in Oaxaca. “But there really wasn’t much of an opportunity to conduct studies and grow a small business in Western Europe,” he continues, “since reverence for mushrooms had been all but completely eradicated by The Church on the length of centuries; and I learned that Mexico still maintains a respect and appreciation for the medicinal and nutritional value of hongos. marshmallow Mexico is far from mycophobic.”
Huautla de Jiménez is more than a five hour drive from the closest metropolitan center. Accordingly, Mathieu eventually seen that residing in Huautla, while holding an historic allure and being in a geographic region conducive to dealing with mushrooms, would hinder his efforts to cultivate a small business and cultivate widespread curiosity about studying fungi. Mathieu became cognizant of the burgeoning reputation of Oaxaca’s ecotourism communities of the Sierra Norte, and indeed the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (regional wild mushroom festival), held annually in Cuahimoloyas.
Mathieu met Josefina Jiménez at the summertime weekend mushroom event. Jiménez had moved to Oaxaca from hometown Mexico City in 2002. The 2 shared similar interests; Jiménez had studied agronomy, and for near a decade had been dealing with sustainable agriculture projects in rural farming communities in the Huasteca Potosina region of San Luis Potosí, the mountains of Guerrero and the coast of Chiapas. Mathieu and Jiménez became business, and then life partners in Benito Juárez.
Mathieu and Jiménez are concentrating on three mushroom species in their hands-on seminars; oyster (seta), shitake and reishi. Their one-day workshops are for oyster mushrooms, and two-day clinics for the latter two species of fungus. “With reishi, and to a lesser extent shitake, we’re also teaching a reasonable bit concerning the medicinal uses of mushrooms, so more hours is required,” says Mathieu, “and with oyster mushrooms it’s predominantly [but not exclusively] a class on cultivation.”
While training seminars are now only given in Benito Juárez, Mathieu and Jiménez want to expand operations to add both the central valleys and coastal regions of Oaxaca. The thing is to have a network of producers growing different mushrooms which are optimally fitted to cultivation on the basis of the particular microclimate. There are about 70 sub-species of oyster mushrooms, and thus as a species, the adaptability of the oyster mushroom to different climatic regions is remarkable. “The oyster can be grown in numerous different substrata, and that’s what we’re trying out today,” he elucidates. The oyster mushroom can thrive when grown on products which would otherwise be waste, such as for instance discard from cultivating beans, sugar cane, agave (including the fibrous waste stated in mezcal distillation), peas, the most popular river reed referred to as carriso, sawdust, and the list goes on. Agricultural waste which can otherwise be left to rot or be burned, each with adverse environmental implications, can form substrata for mushroom cultivation. It should be noted, though trite, that mushroom cultivation is a highly sustainable, green industry. In the last many years Mexico has actually been at the fore in lots of areas of sustainable industry.
Mathieu exemplifies how mushrooms can serve an arguably sustained environmental good:
“They can hold up to thirty thousand times their mass, having implications for inhibiting erosion. They’ve been used to clean up oil spills through absorption and thus are an essential vehicle for habitat restoration. Research has been done with mushrooms in the battle against carpenter ant destruction; it’s been suggested that the use of fungi has got the potential to completely revamp the pesticide industry in an green way. There are literally countless other eco-friendly applications for mushroom use, and in each case the mushroom remains an edible by-product. Take a look at the Paul Stamets YouTube lecture, 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World.”
Mathieu and Jiménez can often be found selling their products on weekends in the organic markets in Oaxaca. They’re both significantly more than happy to discuss the nutritional value of these products which range from naturally their fresh mushrooms, but additionally as preserves, marinated with either chipotle and nopal or jalapeño and cauliflower. The mushroom’s vitamin B12 can’t be found in fruits or vegetables, and accordingly a diet which include fungi is incredibly essential for vegetarians who cannot get B12, most often found in meats. Mushrooms can quickly be a replacement for meats, with the benefit that they’re not packed with antibiotics and hormones often found in industrially processed meat products.
Mico-lógica also sell teas and extracts created from different mushroom species, each formulated as either a nutritional supplement, and for their medicinal properties. While neither Mathieu nor Jiménez has got the pharmacological background to prescribe mycological treatment for serious ailments, Mathieu’s own research points to the medicinal utilization of mushrooms dating from pre-history, to the present. He notes properties of mushrooms which will help restore the immune protection system, and thus the use of fungi as a complement in the treating cancer and AIDS, and their utility in controlling diabetes and treating high cholesterol.