Mycelium: The Miracle Mushroom That Can Replace Everything from Bacon to Shoes

Ecovative
©Ecovative

Following the news in November last year that Ecovative Design had invested $10 million into researching the mycelium fungus, the biotech start-up has announced that it is already producing a wide variety of incredible products ranging from bacon, to plastic and leather alternative, to woodchip material, to shoes.

Mycelium, which is essentially the root structure of mushrooms, is unique in that it is easy to both grow and shape into different forms.  The Foundry at Ecovative Design has created three varied platforms offering solutions in food, leather, packaging, and much more.

  •  Atlast™: an edible scaffolding made of mycelium that can be infused with flavours and other components to deliver a whole cut of meat to the dinner table. It can also be sliced and fried to get crispy, just like bacon. It is high in fibre and has the same protein content as a slice of bacon. The texture is so convincing it can realistically mimic joints of meat, as opposed to most other plant-based meats that tend to come as minced patties or sausages. It can be grown at a competitive price of $1 per pound. Food developer Mattson has already partnered with Atlast.
  • MycoFlex™: this mycelium foam offers a sustainable alternative to plastic-based materials for a wide range of applications. It has a foamy structure that can replace polyurethane products like skincare sponges or be compressed to use instead of leather for anything ranging from gloves to footwear.
  • MycoComposite™: binds together organic matter like agricultural by-products and wood chips to produce durable, biodegradable and 100% vegan composite materials. Mushroom packaging only takes 30 days to compost whereas Styrofoam fills up an estimated 30% of our landfills and takes at least 500 years to biodegrade. It is a high performing packaging solution, 100 % bio-based and is C2C Gold certified.
Ecovative Medium
©Ecovative

Growing all three of these products highly eco-friendly according to the company. For example, it takes over 575 gallons of water to produce one pound of pork, but only 1.25 gallons of water to grow 1 pound of mycelium bacon.

Eben Bayer, Cofounder and CEO of Ecovative stated for Business Insider: “I firmly believe that the best technology on planet Earth is nature and that if we harness natural technology, we can live better lives with better food and better materials at no cost to the planet. And I think we’re now starting to do that, but we’re just scratching the surface.”