The Crunch: For many, mushrooms and other fungi are only known for their place in the kitchen or their place in nature as cleaning agents. But Paul Stamets, researcher and founder of Fungi Perfecti, believes mushrooms play a much more important role in human health and the ecosystem. Over the past 40 years, Paul has made it his life’s mission to search out, protect, and study endangered mushroom species in the vast Old Growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. His labor has led to numerous discoveries, books, and patents, as well as the growth of a successful business. Founded in 1980, Fungi Perfecti has flourished into an educational e-commerce hub. Through articles, workshops, and products that help consumers discover the various benefits of mushrooms, Paul is using his love of fungi to inspire and help others.
To most people, fungi are microorganisms that decompose organic matter, have psychedelic properties, or are delicacies in culinary dishes. But, to Paul Stamets — lifelong mycologist, researcher, author, and founder of mushroom marketplace Fungi Perfecti — they are also pivotal to protecting human health and saving the planet.
For the past four decades, Paul has poured much of his time and resources into his passion for mushrooms and mycelium, the cobweb-like hidden network of cells that spawns mushrooms. He hunts, studies, preserves, and cultivates endangered fungal genomes like Agarikon in the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.
“The rainforests of the Pacific Northwest may harbor mushroom species with profound beneficial properties,” Paul has said. “At the current rate of extinctions, this last refuge of the mushroom genome should be at the top of the list of priorities for mycologists, environmentalists, and the government.”As with other rare mushrooms Paul has discovered and studied over the years, Agarikon has unique properties that could prove key to protecting human and ecosystem health in the years ahead. Fungi are already well-known for their protective properties (Penicillin comes from
As with other rare mushrooms Paul has discovered and studied over the years, Agarikon has unique properties that could prove key to protecting human and ecosystem health in the years ahead. Fungi are already well-known for their protective properties (Penicillin comes from mold) and are more efficient than humans at cleaning up oil spills and contaminated soil or water.
Paul humorously credits his infatuation with mushrooms to the stuttering habit he had in his youth. “I always stared at the ground and couldn’t look people in the eye,” he said. “That’s how I found fungi.” His true inspiration was his late brother John Stamets, who traveled to South America in the 1970s in search of “magic mushrooms.” Intrigued by the hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin, Paul spent his time at Evergreen State College studying mycology.When finances hindered him from attending grad school, Paul launched Fungi Perfecti in 1980 to continue funding his research and share his love of mushrooms with others. Fungi Perfecti, which produces and distributes mushroom-related products, and educates the public on the importance of mushrooms to the ecosystem, has become a popular hub for mushroom enthusiasts.
When finances hindered him from attending grad school, Paul launched Fungi Perfecti in 1980 to continue funding his research and share his love of mushrooms with others. Fungi Perfecti, which produces and distributes mushroom-related products, and educates the public on the importance of mushrooms to the ecosystem, has become a popular hub for mushroom enthusiasts.
With Fungi Perfecti’s success, Paul has channeled thousands of dollars of his own into research and has been awarded nine patents on products that utilize the special qualities of mycelium.
Informing Visitors on the Powerful Impact of Mushrooms
Fungi Perfecti’s mission is to educate others about practical uses for mushrooms in health and wellness as well as their exciting potential in the fields of agriculture and environmental preservation.
Over the last 40 years, Paul has written six books. Their topics trace his passions: mushroom cultivation, mycelium’s impact on the ecosystem, the health supporting properties of mushrooms, and taxonomy of Psilocybe mushrooms. These and books by other authors are available for sale in Fungi Perfecti’s book shop.
Under Mushroom Info, the site also has free reading resources that include a library of Paul’s articles, in addition to news and educational pieces from around the web.
Paul also interacts with the community through frequent seminars and retreat-style workshops that provide participants with hands-on training for how to collect, cook, and cultivate various mushroom species.
In recognition of his educational efforts, Paul was appointed to the inaugural class of “Invention Ambassadors” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2014. In 2015, Paul was the first-ever recipient of the Mycological Sociey of America’s Gordon & Tina Wasson Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to mycology and transmission of scientific knowledge to the general public.
Through his personal publications, other articles featured on his website, and his interactive workshops, Paul builds public awareness and sparks interest in these under-appreciated organisms of the forest floor.
Offering Products for Taste, Health, and Home Cultivation
Books aren’t the only things you can buy on Fungi Perfecti, though, as the site features many of Paul’s own patented products.
The shop offers a variety of supplements, personal care items, food products, gifts, mushroom cultures, and cultivation equipment for those who want to take advantage of the health benefits of mushrooms or attempt to grow their own.
A Line of Wellness Products for Body and Mind
Concerned about impacts from pollution and environmental contamination, many health-conscious consumers are turning to natural, non-toxic alternatives for self-care and supplementation. Mushrooms are a popular source for these products since most species are harmless to humans and have a long history of holistic health supporting uses.
Fungi Perfecti’s health and wellness section offers organic mushroom supplements used for supporting immunity, respiratory function, cardiovascular condition, brain health, and reducing stress.
Visitors can also purchase products like mushroom-based insect repellant, soap, and homeopathic pain-relieving lotion and spray.
Gourmet Mushrooms for Culinary Endeavors
One of the key uses for mushrooms continues to be in the kitchen with a growing number of gourmet food products. Fungi Perfecti debunks the myth that mushrooms lack nutritional value, explaining that mushrooms yield their maximum nutritional value when they are cooked.
High in protein, Vitamin D, and many other nutrients, they are also a favorite addition to the gourmet mushroom delights Fungi Perfecti sells, including honey, oils, creams, teas, salts, and even chocolate.
For those who wish to create their own gourmet foods, Fungi Perfecti also sells fermentation and preservation products.
Equipment to Grow Mushrooms Indoors or Outdoors
Fungi Perfecti’s ultimate mission is to teach others how to fully appreciate mushrooms, so the site enables its customers to engage in the mushroom cultivation process. The online store sells either ready-to-grow mushrooms or spawns and cultures, and even has a cloning service for customers who collect wild mushrooms and want to grow more of them.
For those who are familiar with how to grow mushrooms, Fungi Perfecti also carries a large selection of the tools and equipment needed for either indoor laboratories or outdoor grow rooms.
Passion Spawns a Robust Fungi Resource and Marketplace
What started as a teenage interest in fungus grew into a passion that has not only led Paul to a life of mushroom hunting, research, and discoveries, but to a growing business and community in Fungi Perfecti.
Fungi Perfecti spreads public awareness of mushrooms and their vital role in human health and the ecosystem at large through books, articles, newsletters, and interactive workshops. In the process, Fungi Perfecti is cultivating and preserving mushrooms — and helping others do the same.
“Mushrooms and their mycelium are quiet allies that are essential for our healthy existence. They are enigmatic, have a sense of humor, and socially, as well as spiritually, bond together all that admire them. They have much to teach us,” Paul said.
Paul’s message continues to resonate more widely in the culture at large — even reaching mainstream television shows, such as CBS’s new Star Trek Adventure series. In a role held by Lt. Spock in previous iterations, the new series features Chief Science Officer Lt. Stamets – an astro-mycologist.
By teaching visitors about the culinary, health, and environmental benefits of mushrooms, Fungi Perfecti helps Paul take one step closer to preserving these fascinating organisms and uncovering their role in saving the planet.