Friday, September 18, 2009

Toadstools Not Mushrooms

I love collecting wild foods, and knowing which weeds are edible and how to use them. In the process of this, it is important also to know which plants are dangerous and need to be left alone. I've generally tended to follow the principle that if a good thing has a poisonous look-alike, it's better for me to leave that one alone. There are plenty of good things that are easy to identify and 100% safe to eat.

Toadstools fall into that "leave it alone" category. I don't live in morel country so the only wld mushroom that is reasonably safe isn't something I have access to. The rest of them all have dangerous twins. So we buy ALL our mushrooms in the grocery store.

And that is how I referred to them when the children were little and learning that "sheep shire" (sorrel) and pepper grass were good to eat. They learned that "toadstools" grow in the yard, and "mushrooms" come from the grocery store.

Referring to them by different names prevented any possible confusion on the part of young minds. The kids then learned easily that even though toadstools and mushrooms might look alike, they are not the same, and the safe way to know which is which, is in knowing where they came from. A trusted source, as it were.

The top three photos were taken in South Carolina earlier this summer. The last one, I took today while I was out gathering ripe prickly pears, about which there will be a post later in the week.

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