The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 18, 2013

In search of the wild mushroom


For nearly a half century, Russell has lead mushroom workshops, talks, and walks with the hope of educating as many people as possible about foraging. He is responsible for developing mushroom cultivation methods that allow for the commercial propagation of wild mushrooms. Additionally, he is author of the "Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic."

Wild mushroom foragers sometimes call themselves "mycophiles" or just "fungus lovers." They are part of a "locavore" or "eating local" movement that embraces our heritage as hunter-gatherers. While foraging recently with a friend, he told me that this activity really awakened something primeval within him. He added that it completely changed the way that he thought about the woods. I believe that we all have an innate drive to hunt and gather. Most people are so overly satiated with their constant hunting and gathering at grocery stores and in supermarkets that their palates no longer provide the urge for foods that have been available locally for thousands of years.

Our local woodlands are home to many living and dead trees as well as river and creek bottom soils that result in choice-mushroom gathering areas. Mushroom hunters can also find edible mushrooms in lawns, open areas, and fields. The trick for most mushroom hunters is how to identify the most-edible from the poisonous. A saying often quoted among mycophiles is: "There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters." If you remember this quote and always, always make sure that you're 100 percent sure that the mushroom that you're about to eat is edible before you put it in your mouth, you shouldn't ever have any problems.

Here's a quick quiche recipe for you to try, once you've gathered up some nice fresh wild mushrooms:

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