There are more than 1.5 million species of fungi on Earth — six times more than plant species. Though fungi grow all around us, the function and uses of fungi were mysterious to most people outside of the scientific community until the documentary “Fantastic Fungi” was released in 2019.
The documentary, directed by cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg, captured high-end time-lapse footage of fungi decomposing organic matter and absorbing nutrients to put back into the earth, and also
brought to light fungi’s medicinal and sustainability uses. It also spotlighted the subculture of mycophiles — fungi enthusiasts who study and hunt wild mushrooms.
That subculture has, well, mushroomed since the critically acclaimed documentary was released on Netflix and now, mycophiles will have the chance to gather virtually at the Fantastic Fungi Global Summit, a free online event.
The virtual event will host more than 40 experts ranging from environmentalists and mycologists to chefs and foragers, with guest speakers including Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Eugenia Bone, a chef and food writer who was featured in the “Fantastic Fungi” documentary. Virtual attendees can visit the event’s breakout rooms — “Mush Rooms,” if you will — to explore topics like health and wellness, community education, and environment solutions. Additional speakers include:
- Robin Carhart-Harris, Ph.D., Head of Psychedelic Research at the Imperial College London
- Anna Bjurstam, Founding Board Member of the Global Wellness Institute
- Paul Stamets, mycologist and author
- Charles Grob, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at UCLA
- Michael Pollan, journalist and Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley
According to Seattle Weekly, the event will be a mix of virtually live panels, Q&A sessions, and cooking demonstrations. Attendees looking for a deep-dive into the world of fungi can pay for premium access to additional “Voices of the Underground” content, which will feature hour-long, pre-recorded conversations with the experts who spoke during the main event — “a tell-all look,” the Fantastic Fungi Global Summit website promises, “at the cutting edge of all things fungi.”
Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene.