GREEN ISLAND, N.Y. (AP) -- Turns out that mushrooms -- great in soups and salads -- also make decent packaging material.
Mushrooms are a key ingredient in the pale, soft blocks produced by the thousands in an upstate New York plant to cushion products ranging from Dell computer servers to furniture for Crate and Barrel.
The packaging blocks are made with mycelium (my-SEE'-lee-um) -- the hidden "roots" of the mushroom that usually thread beneath dirt or wood. Two former Rensselaer (rehn-suh-LEER') Polytechnic Institute students have figured out how to grow those cottony filaments in a way that binds seed husks or other byproducts into preset packaging shapes.
The company, Ecovative (ee-koh-VAY'-tiv) Design, has a toe-hold in the increasingly lucrative market for eco-friendly packaging alternatives to plastic foams.