When we think of mushrooms and the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca, the first thing which traditionally comes to mind is María Sabina, Huautla de Jiménez and hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms. But slowly that’s all changing consequently 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 known as the Sierra Norte, the state’s main ecotourism region), Mico-lógica’s mission is threefold: to teach both Mexicans and visitors to the united states in the low-cost cultivation of a variety of mushroom species; to educate in regards to 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 best way to Mexico from France to pursue my interest in mushrooms appears like a long way to travel,” Mathieu explained in a recent interview in Oaxaca. “But there really wasn’t much of a way 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 within the length of centuries; and I discovered 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 more than a five hour drive from the closest metropolitan center. Accordingly, Mathieu eventually seen that remaining in Huautla, while holding an historic allure and being in a geographic region conducive to dealing with mushrooms, would hinder his efforts to develop a small business and cultivate widespread interest in studying fungi. cherry Mathieu became cognizant of the burgeoning standing 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. Both shared similar interests; Jiménez had studied agronomy, and for near to 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 in regards to the medicinal uses of mushrooms, so additional time is necessary,” says Mathieu, “and with oyster mushrooms it’s predominantly [but not exclusively] a program on cultivation.”
While training seminars are actually only given in Benito Juárez, Mathieu and Jiménez intend to expand operations to add both central valleys and coastal elements of Oaxaca. The object is to truly have a network of producers growing different mushrooms which are optimally suited to cultivation based on the particular microclimate. You will 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. “The oyster can be grown in a variety of different substrata, and that’s what we’re trying out today,” 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 known 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. Over the past a long period Mexico has actually been at the fore in many regions of sustainable industry.
Mathieu exemplifies how mushrooms can serve an arguably sustained environmental good:
“They are able to hold around thirty thousand times their mass, having implications for inhibiting erosion. They’ve been used to completely clean up oil spills through absorption and thus are an important vehicle for habitat restoration. Research has been finished with mushrooms in the battle against carpenter ant destruction; it’s been suggested that the utilization of fungi has got the potential to fully revamp the pesticide industry in an eco-friendly way. You will find literally countless other eco-friendly applications for mushroom use, and in each case the mushroom remains an edible by-product. Take a consider 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 a lot more than happy to discuss the nutritional value of their products which range between naturally their fresh mushrooms, but in addition as preserves, marinated with either chipotle and nopal or jalapeño and cauliflower. The mushroom’s vitamin B12 can’t be within fruits or vegetables, and accordingly a diet which includes fungi is very important for vegetarians who cannot get B12, most often within meats. Mushrooms can very quickly be a replacement for meats, with the benefit that they are not laden up with antibiotics and hormones often within industrially processed meat products.
Mico-lógica also sell teas and extracts produced 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 usage of mushrooms dating from pre-history, to the present. He notes properties of mushrooms which can help restore the defense mechanisms, and thus the utilization of fungi as a complement in treating cancer and AIDS, and their utility in controlling diabetes and treating high cholesterol.