Fungi are found throughout the world, often playing critical roles at the centre of any ecological web. As culturally important foods and medicines, as well as instigators of religious practices, they have been intimately tied to the development and spread of human cultures. And yet, despite their numerous influences on the history of the world, fungi are completely disregarded by the majority of people today.
In 2006 Peter McCoy founded Radical Mycology, a grassroots organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the many ways to work with fungi for personal, societal, and ecological health. Nearly a decade later, McCoy has written Radical Mycology to share the wide array of skills and insights that have arisen from the organization's international work to advance the science of appropriately applied mycology. Shattering commonly held beliefs on the value of the Fungal Queendom, Radical Mycology definitively explores the many reasons that fungi should no longer be ignored but instead honoured and embraced for the countless gifts they offer. The result is one of the most comprehensive books on mycology – the science of fungi – ever published.
Interwoven with short essays on the lessons of the fungi, Radical Mycology begins with chapters that explore the uniqueness of fungal biology, the critical ecological roles of micro and macrofungi, skills for accurately identifying mushrooms and mycorrhizal fungi, the importance of lichens as indicators of environmental health, and the profound influences that fungi have held on the evolution of all life and human cultures. With this foundation laid, the reader is then equipped to work with the fungi directly. Techniques for making potent fungal medicines, growing fermenting fungi for food, and cheaply cultivating mushrooms using recycled tools (and yet still achieving lab-quality results) are explored in-depth. Subsequent chapters grow far beyond the limits of other books on mushrooms. Detailed information on the principles and practices of what McCoy calls "regenerative natural mushroom farming" – a practice largely influenced by the design system of permaculture – is presented along with extensive information on cultivating mycorrhizal fungi and the science of mycoremediation, the application of fungi to mitigate pollution in our homes and environment. Concluding the book are deeper insights into the cultural effects that fungi present, from a philosophical reflection of fungal growth in the design of human societies to an exhaustive examination of the history of psychoactive mushrooms.
Throughout this journey, McCoy offers personal and thought-provoking insights into experiencing fungi, based on his 15 years of practice and study in the field. In the end, the reader is left with the means to integrate mycology into any aspect of their life, community, or environment.
" [...] [T]he best work on medical mushrooms that exists in print. It is, well, incredible."
– Stephen Buhner, author of Sacred Plant Medicine, Sacred & Healing Herbals Beers, and Healing Lyme
" [...] [Radical Mycology] deserves a reserved spot on the bookshelves of all amateur and professional mycologists. I highly recommend it."
– Robert Rogers, author of The Fungal Pharmacy
"What an incredible work! [...] It is a remarkable and impressive achievement [...] Mycology should be grateful to him."
– Dr. David L. Hawksworth, Editor-in-Chief of IMA Fungus
"What an amazing compendium! Radical Mycology is filled with provocative ideas and practical information for DIY projects. This is a great resource for anyone fascinated by the ubiquitous world of fungi and wishing to broaden their understanding of this important realm. Be prepared to totally geek out on fungi."
– Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation
"Radical Mycology translates the knowledge of an obscure and marginalized discipline into a science for the people. From strategies for food production and soil decontamination to an exploration of fungal ecology and bioprocesses, Radical Mycology will empower all manner of citizen ecological activists with the tools to build critical mycological alliances."
– Scott Kellogg, author of Toolbox for Sustainable City Living
"Radical Mycology offers an in-depth analysis of the history, contemporary use, and future of people's interaction and partnership with fungi. The scope is wide, yet Peter McCoy provides information in an accessible way for the lay reader as well as seasoned mushroom foragers and cultivators. From food to medicine to remediation, the fungal kingdom provides a host of beneficial uses for people and the ecosystems we depend on, and McCoy illustrates the great potential of increasing our understanding of these fascinating organisms. Radical Mycology is a must read for those seeking to deepen their appreciation for these critical components of terrestrial ecology."
– Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species
"Radical Mycology is a must for believers, and an end for non-believers. Peter McCoy indulges the reader into the depths of the mystical, spiritual, technical and practical aspects of all things fungal in one of the most elaborate mycological reads I've ever come across."
– Giuliana Furci, founder of The Fungi Foundation and author of Fungi of Chile
"Peter McCoy has given us a bold container and nutritious substrate. May we digest this substrate's food and carry our metabolic energy into the field, the forest and the streets, for indeed, the mycelium is the message."
– Nance Klehm, author of The Ground Rules
"This book is essential reading for everyone in the permaculture movement."
– PIP Magazine
"Simply stated, no personal, professional, community, college, or university library Mycology/Fungi instructional reference collection will be either complete or comprehensive without the inclusion of Peter McCoy's superbly written, deftly organized and exceptionally well presented Radical Mycology."
– Midwest Book Review
"Peter McCoy has written a textbook on mycology. He thoroughly and articulately describes the world of fungi from evolution to cultural use to biological cycle to cultivation and beyond. For many mushroom lovers, their enjoyment of our fungal friends stops at the kitchen counter. Some many extend their interest to mushroom hunting. Those of us with a scientific glint in our eyes want more and McCoy provides more. Much more."
– The Practical Herbalist
"In Radical Mycology we have a book that covers the world of fungi from mushroom ketchup to mycoremediation, and all with a passionate, entertaining and very readable writing style."
– Milkwood Permaculture
"There is something here that will interest virtually every person you know [...] I can't recall a more truly groundbreaking book ever coming across my desk. Radical Mycology might have a niche subject and a limited audience on first glance, but the astounding thing about this book is how well McCoy conveys the universal importance of fungi and makes his passion interesting and engaging for everyday readers. Whether you are a mushroom hunter, a home brewer, a restauranter, or just a person who likes to learn fascinating things about the natural world, Radical Mycology is worth the price and the time."
– Independent Publisher
"Radical Mycology really ought to be on the bookshelves of everyone, from fermented foodies to foragers, from ecologists to chemists, to permaculturists and orchardists and environmental engineers and doctors."