Author of a Book on Fungus Lets Mushrooms Eat His Work

Image Credit: Merlin Sheldrake

My husband is a mushroom lover. As in, he enjoys foraging for them, studying them to make sure he’s not grabbing poison ones, and eating them when they’re safe.

I love mushrooms, too, but just the eating part.

If you’re someone who is intrigued by fungi of all kinds, you would totally be sympatico with author and biologist Merlin Sheldrake, who wrote Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our minds, and Shape Our Futures.

To get word out about his work, Sheldrake thought up a pretty interesting and on-brand marketing campaign – he let his subjects devour his work.

He made a video of his brand new, now haggard, book covered in Pleurotus fungus. They worked their magic for a few weeks while electrodes recorded the strange sort of music that results from their omnivorous activities.

Sheldrake mentions that Pleurotus will eat just about anything, from crude oil to cigarette butts and even herbicide that kills most botanical bodies. They even hunt and kill nematode worms, which is strangely unsettling to think about, if you ask me.

He’s amused by the turn his marketing campaign too, and talks about it with his tongue in his cheek.

“Initially I was flattered that the fungus seemed to have consumed the book so eagerly, but on reflection I don’t think that I can take this as a vote of confidence. But I think it’s still a reassuring sight. Given it’s the ultimate omnivore it would’ve been a bit bruising if the fungus hadn’t eaten the book at all.”

Sheldrake gets back at the hungry fungus, though, when he eats them at the end of the video – complete with some preparation suggestions.

“Some of them I’ll pickle in brine, so I don’t have to scoff them all at once, another lot I’ll fry up and eat right away. So now I’m sautéing the oyster mushrooms with a little bit of garlic and some oil. Keep it simple.”

Good to know that the next time you find mushrooms growing here or there (but hopefully not in your library) that you can turn them into a nice meal.

Just please do your due diligence and make sure they’re not going to kill you, first.

There are plenty of mushrooms out there looking to consume people, not just nematode worms.