As a New York green contractor you learn very quickly that “natural” does not mean “good”, nor does it mean “bad”. Case in point: the mushroom.

Mushrooms are some of the most beneficial human foods available. But you eat the wrong one and you will die.

Not good, not bad. Powerful, yes.

So the next time somebody says something is natural, and therefor good, offer them a bowl of black mold. It’s natural too.

Nobody understands this dualistic power of nature, and more specifically of mushrooms than Paul Stamets.

I just finished his game changing book Mycelium Running, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

In this book Paul lays out in clear detail how Mycelium, commonly known as mushrooms, are the building block upon which all other life grows.

The mushroom we know, say the Portabello, is just the outward form. What is actually more important is the “root” structure of the mushroom, something that resembles a vast carpeted web that can span thousands of miles of space and is constantly communicating within it’s span. As Paul says, “Mycelium is nature’s internet.”

The awe inspiring power of Myceluim is vast and I strongly suggest you read the book.

But in short Mycelium’s power to both give life and destroy is an underutilized element that Paul is only beginning to scratch the surface of.

For example he shows how in a matter of weeks a couple scoops of Mycelium can turn a pile of toxic deisel and oil earth into a verdant little green garden. It quickly becomes clear that Mycelium could decontaminate all sorts of toxic situations, such as radiation, heavy metal, oil spills, and sewage to name a few.

Paul has discovered how to turn the destructive power of Mycelium into powerful tools against insects like termites and carpenter ants, essentially creating natural pest control that is more effective than your most toxic chemical.

For green contractors in NY this is good news. Termites are a big problem. We have had more than a couple jobs where the wood in a brownstone was infested with termites.

Another interesting thing is using mycelium as soil remediation for those toxic New York gardens. How about the Gowanus Canal? Newton Creek? Mycelium would eat that up!

Check out this short clip to see what I mean: