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Poisonous Mushrooms

Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:50 am
by rogerwimmer
Doc: I bet you never expected to receive this question. The cool weather in our area means that there are many mushrooms in parks and other public areas. My family likes mushrooms and I’m wondering if there is an easy way to determine if a mushroom is poisonous or not because I would like to go out and pick some. Any help? - Anonymous

Anon: I’ll say upfront that the easiest way to determine if a mushroom is OK to eat is to buy it from a grocery store. However, if you’re determined to go out and pick your own, there are many sites on the Internet that identify which mushrooms are good and which aren’t - click here.

But, I’m not recommending that you rely only on Internet information. I think the best thing for you to do is find an expert who can show you how to identify edible mushrooms. Look for a botanist (or someone involved in agriculture) at a local high school, college, or university. In addition, there are some cities and towns that have extension agents who will be able to help you.

And then there is this way to identify edible mushrooms that comes from my childhood. My grandmother (Father’s mother) used to go out with her lady friends in the Chicago area and pick buckets of mushrooms from the local parks and other public areas. When visiting our grandparents one day, my grandfather was sitting at the kitchen table and my grandmother was at the sink cleaning the mushrooms she just brought home. I asked her, “How do you know which mushrooms are good to eat and which ones are poisonous?” She turned her head slowly to me and with a very interesting smile, she said, “I feed them to your grandfather first.” (My grandfather just looked up at the ceiling and shook his head.)

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