Recently "Wildman" Steve Brill, a well known author and supremely knowledgeable forager, was mentioned in an NPR article about the damage that foragers are doing to a park on the northern coast of California.
Apparently, the mushroom hunters so overcrowd the area, stealing too many pounds of fungi each, and leaving behind havoc and mayhem, that it is causing anxiety in the heart and soul of the ranger working there.
The story goes on to mention other popular mushroom hunting locations, and how
"The slow food movement combined with the Internet age," has inspired foodies everywhere to walk into the woods looking for mushrooms.
Perhaps this is sort of true. The same way that all herbalists are hippies, or we all smoke pot or something. Whatever.
The issue that I take umbrage with, is the direct comments by the NPR writer, against "Wildman" Steve Brill. The way that the article is worded, it appears that Wildman Brill has singlehandedly created " a boom in the number of urban foragers seeking edible greens and roots, creating a nuisance for city gardeners and park rangers. "
Er, what? Have the author ever been foraging for mushrooms? Has he ever spoken with Brill, or anyone that has taken one of his classes? The reality is that sustainability and responsible, ethical wildcrafting are cornerstones of what you will learn from an afternoon with Steve Brill. To say otherwise is laughable and very close to slander.
Let me tell you this; the herbalist, foragers, teachers of all things green, are a pretty tight group. I am not talking about every person who has ever dipped a chamomile teabag, but the honest to goodness people of the green; the ones who put themselves out there teaching and sharing everything they know. These people are self regulating. They will be the first to share what they know, and the first to correct themselves or admit to wrongdoings, because the trust that people have in them has to remain strong.
If for one minute "Wildman" Steve Brill started flinging mushrooms over his shoulder and teaching people to do the same, things would get ugly fast.
This story is nonsense. it is a hyped up bunch of drivel, meant to create a sense of hysteria. What do you think?