The Franklin Journal interviews Annis about mushroom foraging

The Franklin Journal interviewed Seanna Annis, an associate professor of mycology at the University of Maine, for an article about mushroom foraging. Foraging is increasing in popularity and can be a good way to take advantage of natural resources to diversify your diet, the article states. But when looking for any wild edible plants, especially mushrooms, proper identification is crucial for safety. The majority of mushrooms found are poisonous or simply don’t taste good. Annis has led “fungal forays” and taught courses in mycology at UMaine since 1999. She offers identification services to UMaine Cooperative Extension, the Poison Control Center and members of the public, The Franklin Journal reports. “I am still learning new fungi all the time. I recommend if someone identifies something they think is an edible, that they check it with an expert BEFORE eating it,” said Annis, who explained that many are so toxic that consuming a single mushroom can be fatal. There are many look-alikes in the mushroom world, so if a specimen varies at all from the exact description — for example, being too tall, a different color or growing in the wrong place — it is likely a different variety, according to the article. “My recommendation is do not eat it unless you are absolutely sure. I have identified some mushrooms over many years before I was sure enough of my identification to try eating them,” Annis said. Edible wild mushrooms also must be cooked before consumption, regardless of variety. Annis gave a list of steps and techniques for collecting and identifying wild mushrooms, and recommended books for more information.