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Lake Effect Segments

Four Foraging Tips For Fledglings, From Mushroom Mike

Susan Bence
The pheasant back mushroom is edible.

'Mushroom' Mike Jozwik has been forging in Wisconsin, and beyond, for years. When it comes to foraging, he says there's always something new to learn.

For those looking to get started, Jozwik shares a few tips:

1. Get a good book

The number one thing on Jozwik's list is to read up on the subject. "As much as people like relying on Facebook forums now, get a good book," he says.

Here are some of his favorites:

Jozwik adds, "a lot of really cool foragers now who are producing their own regional specific mushroom identification guides" as well - from Indiana to the Pacific Northwest.
And, "there are a handful of easily, identifiable foraged mushrooms that anyone who goes out there and grabs a book can go pick," he says.

2. Time

Spend time picking and time outside. Check your boxes, he says - pick the item a number of times and make sure you have the right thing.

"There's a lot of cool stuff out there to eat, it is just a matter of spending the time in the woods and getting to learn something new."

3. Learn from others

Talk to others who already forage! "There is so much more to learn from so many more people who know so much more," he explains. 

Jozwik says he's met people who moved here from eastern Europe who have this "awesome knowledge and now it is a quest for me to find these people to get some of that knowledge before it disappears."

4. If you don't know it, don't eat it.

"'If you don't know it, don't eat it' is probably the most basic line," he says. 

"It took me almost five years before I could bring myself to sell some wild foraged species," Jozwik explains. "I did spore tests, I did third party analysis, third party identification, cross referencing because there's no way in heck I'm putting my name and my business' reputation on a mushroom that I even have 1% doubt on."

Now, go forth and forage. But, make sure to do your research before eating anything!

Help us shape our Full Plateseries, what questions do you have about food and its production?


Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.
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