When we think of mushrooms and the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca, the 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.
Based in the village of Benito Juárez, located 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 train both Mexicans and visitors to the nation in the low-cost cultivation of a number 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 fascination with mushrooms appears like a considerable ways traveling,” Mathieu explained in a recently available interview in Oaxaca. “But there really wasn’t much of an opportunity to conduct studies and grow a business in Western Europe,” he continues, “since reverence for mushrooms have been all but completely eradicated by The Church over the span of centuries; and I found that Mexico still maintains a respect and appreciation for the medicinal and nutritional value of hongos. Mexico is definately not mycophobic.”
Huautla de Jiménez is greater than a five hour drive from the closest metropolitan center. Accordingly, Mathieu eventually realized that remaining in Huautla, while holding an historic allure and being in a geographic region conducive to working together with mushrooms, would hinder his efforts to cultivate a business and cultivate widespread fascination with researching fungi. Mathieu became cognizant of the burgeoning trustworthiness 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 10 years have been working together 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 within 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 smaller extent shitake, we’re also teaching a good bit concerning the medicinal uses of mushrooms, so additional time is needed,” says Mathieu, “and with oyster mushrooms it’s predominantly [but not exclusively] a program on cultivation.”
While training seminars are now only given in Benito Juárez, Mathieu and Jiménez want to expand operations to include both central valleys and coastal elements of Oaxaca. The thing is to have a network of producers growing different mushrooms which are optimally suited for cultivation based on the particular microclimate. You can find about 70 sub-species of oyster mushrooms, and thus as a species, the adaptability of the oyster mushroom to different climatic regions is remarkable. marshmallow “The oyster could be grown in a multitude of different substrata, and that’s what we’re experimenting with right now,” he elucidates. The oyster mushroom can thrive when grown on products which may otherwise be waste, such as for instance discard from cultivating beans, sugar cane, agave (including the fibrous waste manufactured in mezcal distillation), peas, the normal river reed referred to as carriso, sawdust, and the list goes on. Agricultural waste which might otherwise be left to rot or be burned, each with adverse environmental implications, can develop substrata for mushroom cultivation. It should be noted, though trite, that mushroom cultivation is a highly sustainable, green industry. In the last a long period Mexico has actually been at the fore in many aspects of sustainable industry.
Mathieu exemplifies how mushrooms can serve an arguably even greater environmental good:
“They could hold up to thirty thousand times their mass, having implications for inhibiting erosion. They’ve been used to wash up oil spills through absorption and thus are an essential vehicle for habitat restoration. Research has been completed with mushrooms in the battle against carpenter ant destruction; it’s been suggested that the use of fungi has got the potential to totally revamp the pesticide industry within an eco-friendly way. You can find literally hundreds of other eco-friendly applications for mushroom use, and in each case the mushroom remains an edible by-product. Take a go through 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 more than happy to discuss the nutritional value of the products which vary from naturally their fresh mushrooms, but also as preserves, marinated with either chipotle and nopal or jalapeño and cauliflower. The mushroom’s vitamin B12 can not be present in fruits or vegetables, and accordingly a diet including fungi is incredibly very important to vegetarians who cannot get B12, frequently within meats. Mushrooms can simply be a substitute for meats, with the benefit that they’re not loaded with antibiotics and hormones often present in industrially processed meat products.
Mico-lógica also sell teas and extracts made from different mushroom species, each formulated as whether nutritional supplement, or 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 can help to restore the immune 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.