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Fungus with a future
THE mushroom has always been a thing of mystery. In ancient times the seemingly miraculous manner of its growth without seed, its sudden appearance after rain, its equally rapid disappearance and its curious umbrella-like shape gave rise to a wealth of allusions and mythologies. Today, it is continuing to perform feats of magic and versatility, not only as a source of food, but by helping to convert agricultural and industrial wastes into useful matter.
Edible mushrooms provide high quality protein that can be produced with greater biological efficiency than animal protein. They are rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins, and have a low crude fat content. These properties are major contributing factors to the traditional recognition of mushrooms as "healthy" food.
However, although a large number of mushroom species are not only edible but also possess tonic and medicinal …