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Plastic is fantastic!

Friday 7 December 2018, par Melody Depond

The mushroom may be king of the wild but it also interests designers and geeks. Two Austrian women have designed a virtuous and futuristic farm: the Fungi Mutarium.

FungiMutarium1_credit_KatharinaUnger_JuliaKaisingerBeyond its flavour qualities, we have all already witnessed the potential powers of mushrooms. Some consider them to be the future saviour of humanity, in particular because of their ability to decompose organic matter. In the meantime, two Austrian designers, Julia Kaisinger and Katharina Unger, have designed a prototype that combines taste and recycling. In collaboration with scientists from the microbiology department of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, the two young women have created the Fungi Mutarium, a funny piece of furniture on four legs that looks like it belongs in a spaceship rather than on Earth. It is a mycelium nursery and a mini mushroom farm under a transparent dome.

FungiMutarium2_credit_KatharinaUnger_JuliaKaisingerThere is no water or soil to grow the mushrooms, just a growing medium in the shape of an egg made of agar-agar, sugar and starch, like the agar media used in laboratories (made of agar-agar, water and minerals). In these little beds, sterilised plastic is installed under a UV lamp (a special compartment is designed for this under the dome), then a few drops of mycelium are added. And then we wait. And wait. You need to be patient as the plastic decomposition that enables the mushrooms inflorescence in the shape of an upside-down conical hat can take a few weeks. The next research phase will focus on accelerating the process, using several variables like temperature and humidity, for example. But already, despite the futuristic and unappealing look, the mushrooms obtained in this environment are clearly perfectly edible. To find out more, I recommend watching this video: Fungi Mutarium: Prototype.? ?Recycling extremely polluting materials like plastic to cook up delicious dishes…now there’s a future that smells like the fabulous forest.? ?Magda


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