The Science Behind Food Poisoning From Leftovers

Bacteria are an important part of life on Earth. They use enzymes to break down dead matter and convert it back into a form that can be used to create new life. For example, manure and composted food waste are used to feed farm crops or plants in the garden. You might recall the nitrogen cycle and the carbon cycle from chemistry class in high school. Bacteria are vital for these life cycles to continue to work.

Some of these bacteria are able to produce toxins as a personal defence mechanism or they have special ways to avoid our immune system and make a home among our cells, causing an infection. When we have an infection in our gut we call it gastroenteritis, or gastro for short. Several different types of bacteria and viruses can infect the human gut but the term gastro applies to any infection of the gut. The symptoms of gastro normally involve diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as the infection disrupts the normal function of our digestive system. Sometimes it takes a large amount of pathogen to overcome our immune system, and other bacteria only need to grow to a small population before they can cause harm. So it’s safest to reduce your risk of infection at every step of the food prep and storage process.

The bacteria that can infect our digestive system like to live at around the human core temperature of 37°C. They thrive at this temperature. So if you have a fever or localised inflammation warming up the infection, this is the body’s way of trying to overheat and kill the infecting object, also known as a pathogen. This part of the immune system is non-specific to the kind of pathogen that is infecting the body. The body also has other non-specific immune system mechanisms and some of these are exploited by specific bacteria so that the pathogens can avoid the immune system.

So if some of these bacteria can get past our immune system how do we protect ourselves from being infected with such bacteria that could cause us harm?

How To Prevent Food Poisoning From Leftovers

1. Reheat leftovers properly:

You must reheat your leftovers to above 70°C to ensure any present bacteria are killed. However, bacterial toxins are not destroyed by heat and can still make you sick if there is bacteria present that is generating a toxin.

Freezing does not kill bacteria it just slows the growth down to the point of hibernation. The bacteria will begin to grow normally again when they are brought back up to their optimal temperature for life.

2. Store food properly:

Leftovers are safe to stay at 4°C (your usual fridge temperature) for up to 3-4 days. When you are ready to eat some of the leftover food you should transfer it from the refrigerated storage container to another vessel to heat if you aren’t going to finish it all in this sitting. This will reduce the amount of contamination you introduce to the storage container. If you put your dirty spoon in the container then put it back in the fridge the bacteria from your mouth/the kitchen bench, that is now on your spoon, will slowly grow (because it’s cold in the fridge) over the next couple of days and you run the risk of growing enormous amounts potential pathogens inside the container. Like a petri dish of bacteria sitting in all that delicious food. Loving life. Compared to the small amount of bacteria that can survive temporarily on your teeth will have no trouble increasing their population in your container of food. Have you ever left a container too long in the fridge only to find it has turned into a science experiment?

3. Prepare food properly:

Washing your hands before preparing food will massively reduce the risk of introducing harmful bacteria to the dish. Every time you rub your nose on the back of your hand the bacteria from your nose can be introduced to the dish by accident. If you’re wearing gloves to protect yourself or the ingredients from bacteria, make sure the gloves don’t touch your phone or your hair or skin. That negates the reason for the gloves as they are meant to contain and control the contamination of your work or yourself.

Wash your fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat or cook with them to remove any harmful bacteria and fungi that may have been introduced to the crop during the fertilisation process. Fertiliser is great for plants but not so much for humans.

Ensure cooking times and temperatures allow the entire dish of food to be brought into the “safe zone” above 60°C, particularly for risky meats like chicken and pork. Pathogens can’t normally survive above this temperature but sometimes your microwave doesn’t heat the food evenly, so give it a stir about halfway through reheating leftovers. Or the sausages in the oven need to be turned over halfway through cooking to make sure each section of the sausage has reached above 60°C.

Regarding the dangers of raw chicken and eggs:

Salmonella poisoning can occur if poultry isn’t prepared properly or if poultry manure has touched the surface of the meat or eggs then it is ingested by humans. The bacteria lives normally in the gut of chickens and other poultry. So this means chicken manure contains Salmonella. Sometimes chicken poop gets on the outside of your eggs and not every country washes the eggs before sale in the supermarket. So please always wash your hands after handling eggshells, sincerely, this germophobe right here (me).

But knowledge is power so I feel powerful enough to avoid food poisoning and I hope now you do too. Honestly, all those years of studying microbiology and the immune system at university has helped me through my germophobia and empowered me to live more freely.

Thanks so much for reading! Stay safe and keep your cup full of positivi-tea.

Visit my YouTube channel for more Full Cup Wellness from me, Queeenvk with 3 e’s.

Crafting People Are Happy People

How good is it to just sit back for a relaxing crafternoon (crafting in the afternoon)? It feels so rewarding when we finish a project and stand back to admire our handiwork, so it is no surprise to hear that there are emotional and neurological benefits of learning a new skill and letting your creativity loose.

Scientific research shows that crafting lowers stress and can help reduce feelings of anxiety. Levels of the stress-hormone cortisol decreases during and after performing creative craft activities.

While you’re crafting you are connecting to the present world around you instead of being stuck in the worries of the past or future. Your brain power is taken up by something far more productive and useful for your health. Some people use art as a therapeutic or meditative process to clear and calm the mind.

Inventing new ideas and exploring old ones in a different way can be so rewarding. It brings on those feelings of self accomplishment as well as expanding your mind to see new perspectives.

You’ve probably heard that doing crossword puzzles staves off dementia by helping keep the brain active. Basically, when you don’t use it – you lose it, so if you’re making new connections in your brain you’re keeping it active. Whether your hobby is crossword puzzles or creating a new piece of art, you are keeping those neural connections in working order.

There are many different types of crafts that are available for you to try. Find one that resonates with you and practice it, letting your mind flow with creativity.

My favourite craft at the moment is crochet. It took me a bit of practice, but once I got the hang of it, it just clicked for me. The repeating movements are quite soothing, as long as you take breaks to rest your hands! Here are some of my previous posts related to crochet crafts.

Here is a list of some other crafts you might like to try, maybe there are some you’ve always wanted to try or maybe you will find something new that you never considered before:

Origami/paper art

Painting

Sewing/needlework

Yarn crafts such as knitting, macrame, etc.

Scrapbooking

Lettering/calligraphy

Clay sculpting/pottery

Resin pouring

Flower pressing or flower arranging

Origami cranes

Reply in the comments with the crafts you love and the crafts that you’ve always wanted to try. Which crafts interest you and which crafts have you tried but didn’t like? For me, I’ve tried sewing and embroidery but they are too complex and confusing for me to grasp, whereas crochet clicked in my brain and I understand it a lot easier. Isn’t neurology so fascinating?!

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Why Should I Take Care Of My Teeth?

It’s easy to neglect your teeth and take them for granted. Especially when they’re working just fine and not causing you any pain. Invest in taking care of your teeth and gums because you only get one set. When they are damaged the pain can be debilitating and you become vulnerable to a host of other preventable health issues.

Prevention is better than cure

Finding a good dentist is like finding the right psychologist. You need to feel comfortable and safe when you’re in such a vulnerable situation, when the mouth is unprotected and you’ll be experiencing a fight or flight response to subconsciously protect you from potential danger. Find a dentist that doesn’t make you feel nervous and you will find it much easier to make regular check up appointments.

Invest in your teeth because you only get one set…. Unless you have a lot of money or great health cover. If you haven’t taken care of your mouth and you’re experiencing pain when eating then you can appreciate the importance of regular check ups from the dentist. The pain can even eventually prevent you from eating your favourite foods.

Another surprising reason to look after your mouth health is that damage inside your mouth can cause heart disease. There is a lot of bacteria in the mouth, but none in the bloodstream. If bacteria is able to enter your bloodstream through some damage in your gums or mouth tissues, then that bacteria can travel to the heart.

When you visit the dentist and nothing is wrong or damaged, they can still perform a deep clean. This thorough clean will remove the built up plaque that you don’t regularly remove with brushing.

What is plaque and why should I care about it?

Have you heard of plaque? If you don’t remove plaque build up on your teeth it can harden over time and cause your teeth to weaken and wear away. Why is plaque so powerful? Because it’s made up of a biofilm. Biofilms are layers of different bacterial colonies built up over time. The tooth surface is quite smooth which makes it difficult for bacteria to adhere, except for some species of bacteria. These then create the perfect surface for a different species of bacteria to cling to. Then the next species can join on and the next and the next. Each layer creates the pH and other conditions required for the next type of bacteria to take advantage of. But now you have a film of bacteria eating away at your teeth. You need to brush your teeth twice a day, followed by flossing to remove all of the bad bacteria before it can wreak havoc on your teeth.

Acidic drinks and foods like oranges, juice and soft drinks soften the enamel of the teeth. Brushing your teeth while the acid is present and softening your tooth enamel will erode the enamel away. You should wait to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic food or drink. Or, if you’re out of time, you can dilute the acid in your mouth by swishing with water before you brush.

Brush your teeth and tongue regularly and carefully. Use soft bristle brushes to ensure you don’t cause damage or recede your gums with over brushing.

Toothbrush tip: Keep your toothbrush fresh. Change your brush every 3 months, which is about the time is takes to wear the bristles into that bent out mess. The way to remember this is to change it at the change of the seasons. In the Southern Hemisphere we count the beginning of summer as the first of December. So I changed my toothbrush last week ready for summer. Too easy.

Environmental health tip: Avoid plastic toothbrushes. Think about the amount of toothbrushes that have been created since they were invented. That is too much plastic waste, and counting. To reduce my impact on the Earth I’ve been buying bamboo toothbrushes and wheat straw toothbrushes then reusing them as small cleaning brushes when I’m done. After that the bristles are removed and the stick part either is used in my garden or is put in the compost bin.

Additional note: If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth during the daytime you can speak to your dentist about botox treatments to relax your jaw muscles. This will prevent further damage to your teeth and the inside of your mouth without having to wear a mouth guard during the day.

Thanks so much for reading. Please visit my YouTube channel and subscribe for more from me, Queeenvk. Stay safe and healthy and keep your cup full of positivi-tea.

Aromatherapy Blends That Work

Peer-reviewed scientific research articles on essential oils reveal that there are blends of oils that have powerful and specific effects. Simply search on Google Scholar with a few keywords and you can browse 1000s of articles, some more reputable than others of course! (To find out whether a research paper is published in a reputable journal you can search for the Journal Impact Factor of the journal itself which indicates the basic quality of research that is published within).

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils. Essential oils are derived from plants and only the purest and highest quality oil is considered therapeutic grade. Lower quality oils are best used as fragrance in oil burners or potpourri or they can be diluted in a carrier oil and used on the skin during massage.

Blends of essential oils can be used to treat various ailments. Or you can use single oils to treat simple issues, for example a drop of tea tree oil on a pimple will clear up the blemish by killing the bacteria that are causing the inflammation. Rub lavender oil on itchy bites to soothe the skin.

A blend of lavender and peppermint oil will soothe a headache. Rose, lavender and ylang ylang mixed together have been shown to ease menstrual cramping.

Attention people who snore and/or have sleep apnea:

Try this natural remedy made from a blend of pure essential oils called the Anti-Snoring Blend. You just drip a few drops on your finger and rub it really well into the skin on your neck and behind your ears. That’s it. Do that every night and you will stop snoring. There is a 100% money back guarantee on this product so give it a go if you want to see if it works for yourself (or your partner). People who snore and have sleep apnea are unable to achieve a deep restful sleep as they remain in the lighter stages of sleep throughout the night, so even if you don’t have a partner you bother with your snoring you can still benefit and sleep better with this remedy.

Essential Oil Blend: Immune Booster

My absolute favourite aromatherapy blend is called the Immune Booster. I haven’t had a serious respiratory infection in many years since I started using this blend regularly. Whenever I do start feeling a scratchy throat and swollen lymph nodes in my neck I remember to use my Immune Booster oil so that it can immediately fight the infection. Fun fact: the lymph nodes are where your body makes certain types of immune cells so that it can send them out to the site of infection and/or inflammation.

The Immune Booster is such a powerful blend of pure therapeutic grade essential oils that you can only apply it to your feet. The skin is tougher on your feet so it’s less likely to be sensitive to the powerful oils. If you wish you can dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba oil. Diluting the oil will make it less likely that you will have a skin reaction but it’s still safest to apply to the feet only. Give yourself a good foot massage with this oil if you do dilute it!

To prevent illness, fight serious infection or as a remedy for hay fever I recommend you use it every 2-3 days. Then as the oil builds up in your system you can reduce your usage to once a week.

Each use only requires a few drops of the potent oil so one bottle will last over one year depending on how often you apply it.

Where do I get such amazing oils, you ask? The online store is aromatherapyclinic.com There are some pharmacies in Australia that still stock the Anti-Snoring Blend but a lot of them haven’t reordered when they ran out. So, here I am posting this article hoping people will reach out to me to order their Immune Booster and Anti-Snoring Blend at the online store.

The Aromatherapy Clinic also has the Sinus Clearing Blend for when you have a blocked nose and need it unblocked immediately! It’s like an all natural Vick’s Vapour Rub.

If you only need an individual therapeutic grade essential oil that hasn’t been blended then they have a huge range in stock, just ask. If they don’t have what you need they can order it in.

For orders please contact the friendly team via email: info@aromatherapyclinic.com and you can tell them Vicky sent you.

Posture Matters

Posture check! Are you hunching over your screen or keyboard right now? When you bend your head, like when you use your phone, your neck muscles are working to hold the weight of your head. All of this extra stress on your neck and shoulders can cause headaches, back and neck pain and a permanent curve of your spine such as a hunch.

Another surprising link to bad posture is acid reflux! When you sit hunched over you constrict the flow of digestive juices through your digestive system. This can cause the acids in your gut to be pushed back up, causing that feeling of acid reflux and indigestion.

Studies have shown that good posture has an affect on the mind as well as the body. When you walk into job interview with your head up and your back straight you not only give a good impression on the people around you but you also feel more powerful. Compare this with a shy stance, shoulders rounded and face pointed towards the ground – this gives the impression of a lack of confidence.

While the emotional effects of good posture are important, maybe you’re looking to improve your physical health when performing day to day tasks.

When your neck muscles are straining to hold up your head and your shoulders are rounded over, that extra load on the muscles will cause them to fatigue. You’ll notice pain in your neck and shoulders after sitting at your work desk for hours without a break. Headaches become more common as these muscles are knotted and tensed up.

Note: No one really knows what the knots in our muscles are but they can be alleviated by stretching and massage.

The mayoclinic.org website has this handy advice for using your phone in an ergonomic way to prevent back and neck pain:

Avoid looking down at your phone

Looking down at a smartphone can cause you to flex your neck and strain your cervical spine (A). When standing and looking at your phone, maintain good posture and aim to hold your phone close to eye level (B). When sitting and looking at your phone, sit upright and use armrests — or alternatively a desk or pillow — to support your arms.

Source: mayoclinic.org

There are more ergonomic tips for sitting at a computer or desk. These include making sure your feet are flat on the ground and your spine has a natural arch, without the shoulders hunched forwards.

Source: mayoclinic.org

So remember to hold your chin up. Look the world in the eye. I hope this was interesting and useful information. Thanks for reading!

Visit http://www.youtube.com/queeenvk for more Full Cup Wellness health tips. For some silliness and little handy life tips my tiktok is queeenvk (don’t forget those 3 e’s).

Therapeutic Benefits Of Weighted Blankets, Plushies and Lap Pads

The weighted blanket craze has been opening up the conversation around mental health and anxiety. People of all different backgrounds and neurotypes are experiencing the benefits of weighted therapy items. Therapy toys can be used by people of all ages as they can help anyone who is experiencing difficulty with coping day to day.

Me having a doona day, in my lounge wear snuggling the woma python I designed and crocheted.

I combined my passion of crochet with my desire to help people and make people smile to come up with a few cute weighted plushie designs. The featured image at the top of the post is the cute crocheted weight crocodile I created.

Me getting cuddles from the crocheted weighted crocodile plushies I designed and made.

There is a lack of colourful and lovable lap pads and weighted blankets out there. These therapy items can be so enjoyable and soothing. So I decided to design a lap pad with stimming bits to preoccupy your hands while watching TV.

A progress shot of my stimming lap pad while I was sewing the seams up. It’s a sky and sea theme with (clockwise from top left) 2 clouds, a sun, sea anemone, star fish and a bubble.

I filled the centre of the lap pad with foam so it has structure while it sits on your lap.

You can email me at fullcupwellness1@gmail.com to order your custom crocheted therapy items. All ideas are welcome. Let’s get creative together.

See my crochet creations that are up for sale here (including the weighted crocodiles!)

Check out my YouTube channel for more The Full Cup Wellness with me, Queeenvk

Everyday Hormones That We Experience Every Day

Hormones are signals that tell the organs in your body that it’s time to perform a particular action. For example, when to sleep, when to digest food, when to increase your heart rate and when to feel happy.

Notable hormones for your health throughout each day:

Insulin/Glucagon – Work together to regulate blood sugar concentration.

Leptin/ghrelin – regulate hunger signals. Leptin suppresses hunger signals and makes us feel full. This hormone is controlled by our circadian rhythm (daily cycle) so make sure you’re getting a decent 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, otherwise your hunger signals will be out of whack. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us feel hungry. Ghrelin levels increase before a meal to signal when our body requires more food then decrease after we eat so that we no longer feel that hungry feeling in our gut.

Endorphins – You may have heard that exercise brings on a rush of endorphins. This hormone is a natural pain killer and sedative which means it reduces anxiety too. And bonus, it signals your brain to increase serotonin too so you feel happy and calm.

Dopamine – Reward systems in the brain are controlled by dopamine. Repeated rewards lead to reinforcement of the behaviour which lead to the reward, for example when you train an animal with treats you reinforce a particular behaviour because the animal will continue to expect a reward each time. The same goes in our human brain. In this way, dopamine indirectly controls our behaviour and helps us to learn how to relate to the world around us.

Serotonin – Sometimes serotonin is called the happiness hormone because it is known to stabilise mood and make you feel happy. Serotonin is involved in many areas of our physical health including sleep regulation, appetite, communication between brain cells and improved memory and cognition. People with low levels of serotonin can be prescribed anti-depressants that involve keeping serotonin levels stable in the brain.

All of these hormone levels fluctuate throughout each day to keep your body functioning. Knowledge is power, the more you know about the hormones that create signals in the body, the more understanding you have of your own personal health.

Stay safe!

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Which type of boredom are you feeling?

You can listen to me read out this post on my Podcast channel. Click here to listen.

There are multiple types of boredom. Studies have discovered that there are 5 types of boredom. Knowing which type you are experiencing can help you address your personal needs to improve your state of mind. Here at The Full Cup Wellness we’re all about keeping healthy on the emotional and physical levels and all of the levels in between.

Why would we need to feel bored? What is the purpose of boredom?

Boredom can create a state of searching for something better.

Boredom has been shown to boost creativity.

After learning a new skill boredom can indicate that you are ready to introduce another level of difficulty to the skill and advance your experience level.

What types of boredom are there?

Indifferent boredom

The best kind of boredom. It’s the definition of a lazy weekend being a couch potato. Sometimes you just need to unwind and recharge and do a bit of nothing.

Apathetic boredom

Comes from neither a positive or negative emotion. Often expressed as a lack of will to improve the current situation. Can be a symptom of depression.

Calibrating boredom

When you’re not doing anything and you feel bored but you aren’t sure why. That discontented feeling when you have nothing planned to do but you’re not willing or able to do anything to relieve that discomfort. This type of boredom often causes one to daydream, fantasise or engage in mental escapism through games, books etc.

Reactant boredom

This is a very negative and emotional type of boredom that is normally caused by being stuck in an inescapable situation. For example, a road trip or long plane ride, a work meeting, a lecture at uni or lesson at school.

Searching boredom

Happens when you’re feeling frustrated and discontented. Often when you feel this type of boredom you’re actively searching for a solution to your boredom. This is the type of boredom that can lead to the creation of new ideas or solving a problem that you’ve been sitting on for a while. Start writing down ideas and work on problem solving when you get into this type of head space. You might be surprised by what you come up with.

Personally I have a few techniques to help me on those days I wake up feeling bored and discontented. Often I am able to banish boredom by actively changing my mindset and incorporating goal setting habits in my daily life. The feeling of ticking things off the To Do list is so rewarding and keeps me motivated throughout each day.

What tips do you have to bust boredom? Comment below!

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Environmentally friendly leather?

Click here to hear me read this post on my podcast

Have you heard of the term vegan leather? Sometimes it’s called pleather or plastic leather and is made from polyurethane (PU). More recently some new types of materials have been created to mimic the durability of leather without using plastic or harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. I had a look into some of these new plastic-free alternatives and compared them with leather and pleather by weighing up the pros and cons.

Leather

I’m including real animal hide in this list as a comparison against the leather imitation materials out there.

Pros: Durable. Natural resource.

Cons: Non-vegan product as it involves animal cruelty. Modern tanning and dyeing chemicals are toxic to humans and the environment.

Pleather

Fabric coated with plastics to imitate leather.

Pros: No animal cruelty. Waterproof. Cheap to make.

Cons: Contributes to plastic waste in landfill and microplastic pollution in our environment. Created from harmful petrochemicals. Fossil fuels used to make plastics aren’t renewable.

Pinapple leather (Pinatex)

The leaves from pineapple plants that are normally thrown away after harvest time are turned into a durable fabric.

Pros: Income for small communities in The Philippines. Using waste products from the pineapple industry. Certified non-harmful chemicals are used in the tanning process.

Cons: The certified safe chemicals might not be healthy for the environment? It’s unclear how these chemicals are certified as non-harmful for the environment. Plant leathers, including Pinatex, are less durable than animal leather.

Mushroom leather (Muskin)

Made from mushroom skins that are treated to become a fabric that feels like suede.

Pros: Low water and carbon usage in the production process. Tanned using a chemical-free process.

Cons: Less durable than real leather.

Washable paper

The bark of some trees, such as the Kozo tree in Japan, can be turned into a leather-like material. Only the outer layers of bark are used, the tree remains unharmed.

Pros: Made from a renewable resource. Kozo trees grow quickly.

Cons: Synthetic latex is used as a coating to make the paper waterproof. This means the final product is not biodegradable and uses non-renewable resources.

Lab-grown leather

Also known as bio-leather, microoganisms such as bacteria and fungi are used to grow materials like leather without being harmful to animals.

Pros: No animals are harmed in the making of this material.

Cons: This technology is currently very expensive and only very small quantities can be made at a time.

There are many more new options for natural materials out there to explore too. Have you tried any new or up-cycled materials? Comment below!

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Nutritious Delicious Fungi

Mushrooms are the meat of the vegetarian world. But they are neither meat nor vegetable. They are classified as fungi because of a few specific characteristics, for example, the cell walls are made of a material called chitin. This is why mushrooms are more nutritious when cooked because those chitin cell walls are too tough for us to digest to reach the goodness inside.

Fun fact: The mushroom part that pops out of the ground is actually the fruiting body of the fungus. You’re picking the fruit!

Types of mushrooms that you can eat:

Make sure you only eat mushrooms that have been picked by a professional. There are many mushrooms that contain toxins that they use to protect themselves from being eaten since they can’t run away from predators. Sometimes these poisonous mushrooms look very similar to safe mushrooms, which can prove fatal if you eat them. There have been recent reports of families being poisoned after they picked mushrooms in Australia that look almost exactly like the safe mushrooms from other countries. It is vital that you don’t go and harvest your own mushrooms without the proper knowledge.

There are so many types of good eating mushrooms all around the world. They all have different flavours so I encourage you to explore the exotic mushrooms at your grocery store. Some really delicious mushrooms you may have heard of are:

Enoki or enokitake

Shimeji

Shitake

Oyster mushroom

Vitamins, minerals and other benefits of eating cooked mushrooms:

Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D, E, folate,

Trace minerals such as potassium,

Amino acids,

Low calorie source of fibre and protein,

Antioxidants, especially when grilled or microwaved.

Best ways to cook mushrooms:

Grill or microwave mushrooms to get the most nutritional value out of them. These methods leave the antioxidant activity in tact (Source). You can also fry, boil or bake mushrooms to enjoy the beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Fun fact: The largest organism in the world is a fungus that spans a few km across in a forest in Oregon, USA.

What are your favourite ways to prepare mushrooms? Do you stuff them? Fry them with butter and garlic? Those are my favourite ways to enjoy mushrooms.