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National Park Service photo
The Amanita mushroom looks neat, but it's toxic - and can be fatal.
Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wild mushroom foraging in Maine - should it be regulated?

Here's a scary quote:

"I've had guys come in at 10 in the morning with beer on their breath (trying to sell wild mushrooms)," said Rob Evans, the James Beard award-winning chef who owns Duckfat in Portland. "I think that's the scary side that the state's trying to deal with."

It comes from a Portland Press-Herald story about the slow development of new Maine regulations for wild mushroom foraging. (Here's the story)

In 2008, two Portland chefs purchased what they thought were porcinis, an edible mushroom, from a forager. They were actually poisonous lilac brown boletes. The boletes were never served to the public, but the chefs consumed them and were hospitalized. The incident led to the creation of the current law.

According to the story, the usual debate about who should pay for training has held things up.

I don't like mushrooms myself, but if you want to learn more, here's a well-respected New Hampshire Mushroom Guide. So far as I know, there are no rules or regulations about selling wild mushrooms in New Hampshire.

I wrote a story a year ago about cases of mushroom poisoning soaring in New Hampshire - as you'll recall, it was wet in 2011, and fungi were everywhere in the woods - even I noticed it. Here's that story. This year is dry and the problem has, predictably, declined.