How should we respond to foraging?

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adampembs
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How should we respond to foraging?

Post by adampembs » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:15 pm

I've just put a comment on River Cottage's Facebook page about a one day fungi foraging course they want to charge £199 for. I suggested they spent more effort to encourage home farming of exotic types. For example, Mushroom Box has 18 spawn products that you could grow yourself. No danger of poisoning, no maggots, slugs, and most likely less investment of time in farming than in searching and attempting to make a safe ID!
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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Chris Yeates » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:23 am

Of course you are right Adam
adampembs wrote:No danger of poisoning . . . . less investment of time . . . . than in searching and attempting to make a safe ID!
but there's a naughty side of me that would be tempted to let natural selection take its course . . . though I suppose once these people with more money than sense are turned away from their private health care provider (because there is actually something wrong with them) the poor old NHS would have to pick up the bill.
Getting a bit political there - sorry :oops:
Chris

PS - love the "You’ll sit down to a local and seasonal feast prepared by the River Cottage chefs, which might just feature some of your foraged mushrooms" bit. Or (perhaps more likely) excellent and delicious chestnut mushrooms (£.80p - £1 a punnet) from a nearby supermarket . . . (with a few dried pieces of porcini thrown in) :lol: £199 per head . . . .
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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Waxcap » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:07 am

Chris Yeates wrote: PS - love the "You’ll sit down to a local and seasonal feast prepared by the River Cottage chefs, which might just feature some of your foraged mushrooms" bit. Or (perhaps more likely) excellent and delicious chestnut mushrooms (£.80p - £1 a punnet) from a nearby supermarket . . . (with a few dried pieces of porcini thrown in) :lol: £199 per head . . . .
And the dried Porchini might not be all it seems.......a pack I bought from a major supermarket came from China and, along with assorted Boletes, had a dried Geoglossum in there too!

I have heard that the only person with a commercial picking licence in the New Forest has ceased trading (she used to lead forages as well). There won't be any more licences issued but unfortunately we still get plenty of unlicenced commercial pickers and guided foraging groups. The personal limit of 1.5 kgs each means a small group can take an awful lot of fungi from an area. Enforcing the rules isn't really possible as things stand so some are suggesting a total ban on picking fungi in the New Forest.

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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by adampembs » Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:21 am

There was an article in The Forayer about someone turning up at MJ's place with a basketful of Paxillus involutus and they guy saying he wanted to be sure they were Chanterelles before serving them in his restaurant... as the article said, perhaps something bad needs to happen for the fashion to take a downward turn...
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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Leif » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:33 pm

I don't see a reason to condemn mycophagy outright, but the wanton despoiling of our woods is abhorrent. Witley Common is a nice NT site. Each year collectors swarm through the woods, filling plastic bags with fungi. They then gather together, and someone sorts out the edibles, discarding the rest. So you end up with numerous large piles of discarded fungi, throughtout the place. I was talking to an estate agent, and mentioned that Penny Buns were popping up. She said there would be none left once she'd visited. I think the collectors simply think it is free food, and have no concept of conservation. I'm not opposed to a family going out, and picking enought for a few meals, but clearing a site is something else.

Regarding River Cottage, it has always struck me as a very commercial venture. Fungi guides have a place, but I would hope they teach people about the beauty of fungi, and their place in the ecosystem, and that they should only take a few, not the whole lot. Anyway, in my view most wild fungi are disappointing, and overhyped by people with vested interests such as pushing a book, or TV programme. Cultivated open cap mushrooms are surprisingly tasty. I am fond of the odd Penny Bun though.

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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by adampembs » Sat Sep 19, 2015 11:46 am

I think a lot of people start an interest in fungi because of edibility. It was the case with me, although I also had a background in microbiology and food science.
I think a lot of people who get into foraging come from well-educated and eco-hippie backgrounds and genuinely don't realise the damage that's being done. Living off the land, foraging, etc are not bad ideas, when it is small scale. People think they are avoiding additives, and sticking up two fingers to the corporates. The same people most likely buy organic food etc. It's a reality though, that the country cannot sustain a "hunter-gatherer" lifestyle for its current population, or even for 1% of it. It would be good if the likes of River Cottage etc, encouraged more "organic mushroom farming" - after all there are so many exotic species that can be farmed now.
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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Chris Yeates » Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:10 pm

adampembs wrote: . . . . People think they are avoiding additives . . . .
http://www.environment.no/Goals-and-ind ... ushrooms-/
and definitely re Boletus badius:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 1/abstract

Chris
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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Steve » Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:20 pm

Hi,
I've seen, and chatted to folk who were foraging 1 mile from Sheffield city centre - they grubbed up my favourite troop of Birch Boletes, some of them were innocent little mushroomlings :cry: , hardly a cubic centimetre after frying, and likely ready seasoned with heavy metals from Sheffield's soil.

I was interested to know what 1.5 kg of mushrooms actually looks like. As 300g is plenty for my wife, I copied and pasted an image of the 300g 5 times. Firstly I used button mushrooms from the supermarket, then I used 300g of some very tasty farmed mushrooms from South Yorkshire, on sale at a Sheffield Farmer's Market: Yellow or Golden Oyster - Pleurotus citripileatus
https://www.flickr.com/photos/33485842@ ... c1f-eLKzMn
Pink Oyster – Pleurotus djamor
https://www.flickr.com/photos/33485842@ ... 1f-eLKzMn/ and King Oyster - Pleurotus eryngii, I think.
I sent the images of 1.5 kg to the BMS (of which I'm a member) a couple of times. Apparently they are reconsidering their guidelines of a max of 1.5 kg.
The Oysters were absolutely delicious. The Sainsbury's ones were very nice too.

I see there's a bigger new copy of Richard Mabey's "Food for Free". Must tie my (long unused) original copy to a stake and burn it.

Steve
Attachments
one and a half kg of mushrooms.jpg
1.5 kg of mushrooms looks like this
One and a half KG of mushrooms2.jpg
1.5 kg of mushrooms looks like this

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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Flaxton » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:19 am

Steve
If there is a link between collecting and a decline in the fungal population, and I am not sure this has been proved, I don't think the cause is "foragers" who are collecting for their own consumption. In my opinion it likely to be those collecting to sell on to the catering trade who often have little or no idea what they are collecting so use the "hoover" technique and leave it to someone higher up the chain of command to select the edible from the inedible (but beautiful/rare/important/new to the country/new to science) in a heap at the side of the car park.
I spend 12 months of the year studying fungi and I collect for the pot when I can (probably less than 5% of the time) but on all the walks/talks I lead I try to steer away from the belief held by 99% of the people who come that the only reason you would ever be involved with mushrooms is to eat them.
Mal

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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by adampembs » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:45 am

Flaxton wrote:Steve
the belief held by 99% of the people who come that the only reason you would ever be involved with mushrooms is to eat them.
Mal
..and this obsessive narrow-mindedness is unique to fungi. If you turned up at a birdwatchers meeting with a shotgun and asked if lesser spotted woodpeckers were edible? :shock:
or go to someone's flower garden and ask about every single flower if they are edible..
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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by Steve » Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:48 pm

Mal,
You are absolutely right that as yet there's no soundly proven link between "reasonable" levels of collecting for the pot and a general decline in the larger fungi. Because of how fungi appear, that can likely only be firmly established over a very long period of time, and if it is the case it will then be far too late. The obvious analogy is smoking and lung cancer, which took how long to "definitely" prove? Sadly we are probably certain to see a noticeable decline of intact mushrooms in the landscape simply because of more and more busy hands, commercial or otherwise. We have maybe the fastest rising population in Europe and we are one of the least wooded countries. 20 million people within 2 hours drive of the Peak District. I really don't think we should justify picking fungi just because we don't do it quite as brutally as the restaurant-pickers do. Sadly, we end up just adding to the problem, without any intention to do so. As lovers of the fragile fungi kingdom the only right thing to do is go to the shop for your mushrooms. Of course it's brilliant to be able to go out into the wild and find real natural food which isn't part of the Tescopoly culture - all chemicals, over-watering and profits. I've done it. But it's not like that any more. People don't pick bluebells any more.
Steve

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Re: How should we respond to foraging?

Post by roy betts » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:40 pm

Related article on the Fresh Produce journal website:
http://www.fruitnet.com/fpj/article/166 ... -mushrooms

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