Zachary (Mazi) Hunter – Mycological Mexico: Oaxaca edition
Mexico is one of the most climate diverse countries in the world and it has been estimated that indigenous Mexicans consume about 300 species of edible mushrooms across its eight climatic regions; All eight climates are found in the Southern State of Oaxaca. Despite its inclusion geographically in North America, the country of Mexico can seem quite foreign in its attitudes toward mushrooms and mushroom foraging when compared to the US or Canada. The difference, even more pronounced in Oaxaca, is more than just a language barrier, though that plays a significant role; despite Spanish being the dominant language, there are more than 16 official language groups throughout this state alone. More than half of the political regions in Oaxaca are self-governed autonomous democracies. There are no mushroom picking permits: nothing can be removed from the land, or even access granted, without express permission of the community. And yet, their knowledge of mushrooms and even mycology is vast and has been known since time immemorial. In this presentation, Chef Zachary Mazi attempts to tackle the barriers in understanding this delicate relationship, and discusses the intricate web of food-life-forest-community that underlies the unique management of these diverse and incredible ethnomycological regions whose wisdom holds so much potential for the rest of North America.