Be conservative in your approach to collecting and eating wild mushrooms:
- Collect many before you eat any
- Use reputable local field guides
- Join a local mycological society, and/or run your mushrooms by a local mushroom expert
- Be cautious about where you collect mushrooms; they can absorb toxins from the environment
- Be persnickety about mushroom quality; don’t eat old or spoiled or rotten mushrooms
- Before collecting edibles, learn about the local, poisonous mushrooms, and be able to distinguish them, especially the few deadly species
- Eat only mushrooms that have been positively identified - and identify every mushroom you plan to eat
- If you can't verify every identifying characteristic, don't eat it. When in doubt, throw it out!
Other Causes of Mushroom Poisonings
When eating mushrooms, there are a few extra factors to consider:
- Overindulgence (eat small amounts, infrequently)
- All mushrooms should be well cooked (mushrooms can be indigestible when raw, or contain heat labile toxins, which are eliminated by cooking)
- Trehalase deficiency (inability to digest an uncommon, highly stable mushroom sugar, trehalose)
- Mushroom food allergies
- Spore inhalation (has caused at least one death!)
- Dermatitis (various mushrooms)
- Hemolytic anemia (rare immune response to antigens in Paxillus involutus; sensitivity developed over time, rarely eaten in North America)
Here are some resources for poisons, hallucinogens, and identification:
- Benjamin, Denis. “Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas,” 1995.
- Stamets, Paul. “Psilocybe Mushrooms of the World,” 1996.
- Spoerke, David and Rumack, Barry. “Handbook of Mushroom Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment,” 1994.
- Arora, David. “Mushrooms DeMystified,” 1986.
- Beug, Michael. “Thirty-Plus Years of Mushroom Poisoning: Summary of the Approximately 2,000 Reports in the NAMA case registry”, McIlvianea, Vol. 16, Number 2, Fall 2006.
- Mushroom Toxins, “The Bad Bug Book.” Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
For another perspective on mycophagy, read The Mycophagists Ten Commandments.