Johnna Holmgren has one of those Instagram feeds that can make the rest of us feel like we’re living our lives incorrectly: Because we’re (probably) not married to a “chalk artist” while living in the Minnesota wilderness, wearing a variety of hats and goldenrod-colored clothing, carting around three beautiful blonde children, and feeding our friends gourmet meals in an actual glass house.
Holmgren has turned her naturalistic and extremely picturesque lifestyle into a career as an Instagram “influencer” (almost 130,000 followers) and blogger on her website Fox Meets Bear. She has now released her own cookbook: Tales From A Forager’s Kitchen: The Ultimate Field Guide To Evoke Curiosity And Wonderment With More Than 80 Recipes And Foraging Tips. Unfortunately, The Daily Dot points out, Holmgren may not be as gifted a forager as she is a blogger and stylist. Many Amazon commenters are pointing out that some of Holmgren’s recipes could be downright dangerous, suggesting raw elderberries (“People have been poisoned from consuming too many raw elderberries,” says one commenter) or whole acorns (“Acorns need to be leached first,” same). About a quarter of the book’s customer reviews consist of single-star ratings.
But the gravest warning may be against Holmgren’s recipe for “Dark Chocolate Dipped Fungi,” which “has caused an outcry for safety issues,” says The Daily Dot. Many wild mushrooms can be fine when cooked, but not raw. Especially not morels:
The recipe calls for “two cups of in-season foraged mushrooms,” which instructs the reader to brush and wash the fungi, drizzle or dip in melted chocolate, sprinkle with salt and “rose petals, citrus, or mint,” and then refrigerate to cool. One of the suggested varieties of fungi is morel mushrooms, which are potentially harmful if eaten raw.
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We already know that morels can be dangerous if you post them on Facebook and someone incorrectly thinks they’re psychedelic. But this recipe for raw chocolate-dipped raw mushrooms could be “criminally bad, irresponsible advice,” notes an Amazon commenter. “This book is a lawsuit waiting to happen.” Said another, “If you try the chocolate dipped raw wild fungi recipe, better clear your calendar for the next few days while you are sitting on the toilet. This is not a joke.”
The Daily Dot points out that the following disclaimer appears on Holmgren’s website: “While I strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. I am not a health professional, medical doctor, nor a nutritionist. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site and any published content.”
Maybe we’ll just stick with purchasing our mushrooms from the store to be on the safe side.