The dangers of foraging: An amateur mushroom picker’s nightmare

After five years of mushroom picking I have finally realized just how little I know about the “sport.”

A spectacular find from two seasons ago. (Photo by Ash Kelly)

A spectacular find from two seasons ago. (Photo by Ash Kelly)

I can identify about a dozen edible species and have enjoyed countless meals made better by foraging, including chanterelle risotto, cauliflower mushroom stuffed quail and creamy morel pastas. But no meal is worth the pain I endured on my most recent expedition into the Squamish Valley.

So I asked Vancouver Mycological Society president Mendel Skulski just how appropriate mushroom picking is for those who know little about the woods. He told me the popularity of the activity is growing, in part due to the “foodie” movement. That means more amateurs are out there in the woods than ever before.

Luckily, if you’d like to learn more you can check out the Vancouver Mushroom Show this Sunday at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Admission is $3 and the wealth of knowledge there will be endless. You can even bring in mushrooms you’ve found and have experts identify them for you.

Listen to my story (40:50 in) on CBC’s On the Coast with Stephen Quinn to hear more.


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