Perspective on toxicity from Galloway Wild Foods
“If all wild plants and fungi were edible, we wouldn’t be foraging – we’d be grazing. And the world would be a very different place…” — Mark Williams
The first question asked when someone finds out you forage for wild mushrooms is invariably, “Isn’t that dangerous?” And indeed it can be, if you’re not careful and knowledgeable.
But sometimes we forget just how many other foods we eat every day can be dangerous or sickening. Whether due to allergic reactions, immoderate use, or toxicity in their unprocessed state, some of the foods we buy on the grocery shelves can and do kill people or make them very ill. And in the aggregate, it undoubtedly affects far more people than ever succumb to poisonous mushrooms.
From Scotland comes an eloquent essay on the subject by foraging guide Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods. He provides some insightful and much-appreciated perspective on the risks we take every day with scarcely a thought:
This clearly bears on the debate about the edibility of Amanita muscaria that we have discussed here before.
The rest of this superbly informative and well-illustrated web site is also worth a look, especially if you plan to visit the British Isles in mushroom season. I have family roots in Dumfries, just down the road from Galloway, and I can foresee combining one of Mr. Williams’ guided forays with a visit to our ancestral village.