In Search of Mycotopia

April showers bring...mushrooms? This week's review introduces us to the world and potential of mycology

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

Bierend, Doug. Chelsea Green, 2021
336p bibl index, 9781603589796 $24.95, 9781603589802

In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms book cover. Drawing of mushrooms with yellow and gray colored text over black background.

Bierend offers an engaging and entertaining introduction to the broad field of mycology, demonstrating how fungi epitomize the concept of ecological relations. Bierend, who writes for WiredThe Atlantic, and Outside Magazine among others, proves his skill as a science journalist through interviews and experiences shared with mushroom experts and citizen scientists. He follows a wandering path through mushroom production, revealing opportunities for community engagement in “fungi fellowship” and documenting the involvement of mushroom enthusiasts not only in food science but also in resistance to extractive culture. Chapter 5 (“This Land Is Mycoland”) details Bierend’s visit to the Telluride Mushroom Festival. In chapter 12 (“Who Speaks for the Mushroom?”) he visits a mycoremediation project not far from the Lago Agrio oil spill disaster site in Ecuador. Though the book’s organization might seem cluttered, it captures the feeling of falling in love with a field of biology. Bierend’s budding enthusiasm and passion for everything related to fungi makes the text fun to read. Bierend introduces surprising edge topics that serve as jumping off points for deeper thought. This would make an excellent introduction to mycology for undergraduate students and all readers interested in learning more about an important kingdom uniquely positioned within the empire of life.

Summing Up: Highly recommended, Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Professionals. General readers.
A. L. Myers, Michigan Technological University
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Environmental Studies, Food and Agriculture
Subject: Science & Technology – Biology – Botany
Choice Issue: Mar 2022

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