You are responsible for your own safety and well-being.
Never, and I mean NEVER, eat any wild plant or fungi (mushroom) that you are not 100% certain is safe to ingest (eat) or otherwise use on your body. Gary Lincoff, mycologist, author and world authority on foraging, is oft quoted for saying “You can eat anything… once.” Implying that you may not live to eat it again.
If you are new to foraging, and still learning (as we all are), then I STRONGLY recommend that you do the following in order to stay safe and have a fun time foraging:
- Start by learning to forage with an expert forager. Visit the Educators page to find one near you.
- Once you feel confident that you’ve found an edible plant, take photos of it from all angles and post them to the following Facebook groups to get positive identification from experts. Edible Wild Plants, Edible Wild Plants and Mushrooms, Plant Identification Group, New York Mycological Society, and The Mushroom Identification Group. This will also be great source for continued learning.
- Watch my recipe videos to get ideas on how to eat the plants and fungi that you gather.
When you are ready to gather your wild edibles, be mindful of where you are harvesting. Pollution makes us sick. Wild foods that are otherwise safe to eat can be rendered toxic when sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and anycides. Train tracks and other publicly maintained lands such as parks can be full of lead and arsenic. Don’t harvest anything growing on the side of the road and walkways. Runoff from road salts and traffic is full of dangerous petroleum and heavy metals. Lumber forests seem pristine, but are often sprayed to kill off plants competing for sunlight. Be aware of your environment and take action to protect it.
That being said, the best places to forage are organic and biodynamic farms. Ask them if they will permit you to pick their weeds.
You can get parasites from the feces of dogs and other animals. For good measure soak and rinse your harvest in vinegar water if you plan to eat it raw. Blanching in boiling water for a minute also kills parasites and preserves nutrients.
Mushrooms happen to be full of maggots. If you want to get rid of them, soak your mushrooms in salt water for about 20 minutes. That being said, you must never eat mushrooms raw. The chitin, which is what makes up the mushroom’s structure, is indigestible. Cooking breaks down the chitin.
And now… a word from our lawyers… “Disclaimer:You are responsible for your own safety and well-being. Information contained on this website is strictly and categorically intended as a reference to be used in conjunction with experts in your area. Foraging should never begin without the guidance and approval of a local plant specialist. The providers of this website accept no liability for the use or misuse of information contained in this website. ”