By: Sarah TeSelle

Have you ever played the game 20 Questions? The first question is usually, “Animal, vegetable or mineral?” If the item you were trying to identify was a microorganism the answer would be, “None of the above.” Microorganisms are microscopic, single cell or multi-cell, living organisms. A couple of the most helpful microorganisms are bacteria and fungi.

Unfortunately bacteria and fungi have gotten bad reputations, but without bacteria and fungi we could not live; in fact, you have several different kinds of bacteria living in and on you right now! All those bacteria are doing wonderful things like helping you digest the food you eat and protecting you from the disease. You may have seen advertisements of probiotics; this means it supports the good bacteria in your system.

Fungus helps to break down dead organic material; fungus also gives us yeast which is what makes bread light and fluffy, it even gives beer and champagne their bubbles! When a fungus breaks down dead organic material it is helping to return nutrients back to the soil. If you have a compost pile it is fungi that are breaking down the waste put into the pile and turning it into rich compost you can use in your vegetable garden.

Yes there are some bad bacteria and fungi, but washing your hands frequently with plain soap and water is the best way to protect you from bad bacteria and fungus.

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