“Mycophobia is a cultural overreaction”-Garl Lincoff
Sooooo-fungi. Mycelium. Mushrooms. What’s up with them? Are they psycho killers? Should we be shaking in our booties at the likelihood that we will die from poisonous fungi? Um…. no.
A recent article circulating on facebook tells of a family who ate destroying angels and “almost died.” (They were saved by milk thistle seeds, which is somehow controversial.)
And the last sentence reads: “His family will only eat mushrooms from the grocery store from now on.”
Ya know, F that. Food at the grocery store is sprayed with all kinds of poison. Pumped up with diabetes-inducing sugars, fraught with blue lake number bajillion and obscene amounts of sodium and “flavor enhancers”. Food at the grocery store is hyper-preserved, factory farmed and packaged to the high heavens. And have we not heard of “recalls”? Peanut butter full of rat shit, ground meat full of “pink slime” and everything teeming with “allowable filth”. Yeah, safe.
I feel frustrated when people tell me to “be careful” when foraging for plants andf fungi. Yeah. No kidding. And should I be careful when driving, boating, drinking, eating peanuts, and ingesting (doctor prescribed!) pharmaceuticals?!?! All of which slay a zillion more humans than fungi?
I believe we can learn about fungi. I believe we can learn about wild plants. I believe humans are not as stupd as we act. Can we identify a banana? Can we tell the difference between an almond and a walnut? Or a poodle and a pitbull? Yes, most of us can. Can we learn to use an iphone, operate heavy machinery, program the damn VCR? Yes we can. So why do we think we can’t identify a destroying angel?
You don’t need to learn ALL mushrooms. Just learn those that kill. A small minority, I might add. Learn the clear sign of a poionous puffball. Learn the skirt of a destroying angel. Avoid LBMs. Never eat raw fungi. Always use at least 2 ID sources. (and this blog is sure as hell not one of them!!) If you aren’t sure, just don’t eat it. It’s not rocket science.
Often in our society we fear the forest, we fear the dark places, the unknown, we fear our own knowledge, our own hands. We overvalue the invariable. We overvalue the list of ingredients, the nutrition facts, the stamp of approval. And we project all this internalized crap onto fungi. And don’t tell me advertising has no hand in our panic. Don’t tell me big business isn’t eating our panic right up like fungi on a stump.
We CAN learn to recognize patterns. WE can learn basic botany. We are not helpless babies being manipulated by great evil lurking in the forest. And we can ingest stuff that doesn;t come from the supermarket. I have a few choice fungi that I have memorized, that I recognize and feel affection for. And, really, most fruiting bodies are just “eh” in the pan. (But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy their presence outside!)
Foraging for wild fungi and wild plants and is a passion, an obsession. It is not inherently dangerous with some common sense and a basic grasp of major pitfalls, patience, safety guidelines and idenitfication skills. People have died from way lamer passions.