Thank you for joining me on this journey of writing a blog about foraging, mushroom cultivation, and cooking wild foods in Maine! My goal is to make this a platform for exchanging information about what’s out there in the Maine woods, along our coastlines, and growing wild in our backyards. I want to help you become interested in finding your own relationship to safe and responsible wild food collecting, whether that be as simple as confidently gathering and cooking dandelions or as far reaching as the oft-misunderstood world of wild mushroom foraging.
As a whole, the world is trending away from wild foods, eating with the seasons, and cooking and preserving one’s own food. Convenience foods dominate the landscape of our grocery stores and fresh produce is selected for beauty and shelf stability over taste and nutrition. This has been a sweeping change with tremendous momentum.. but Maine is a place where wild food gathering is etched into our collective being. We are a state of hunters and fishermen, a people of incredible tenacity. Five different Native American tribes have made their home here for thousands of years, and in their native tongues named the mountains, bays, and rivers of Maine, that they knew so intimately, after the wild foods that were found there.
I suppose that if I am to instill confidence in my readers I should introduce myself and how wild foods intersect with my world!
My personal relationship with foraging began at a young age. Like many, I started with the familiar, collecting blue berries and raspberries on family excursions; picking leaves of wintergreen to chew on while walking in the woods.
It wasn’t until my late teens that I began looking for edible mushrooms. Guided by a chef at The Burning Tree restaurant in Otter Creek, where I worked for the better part of a decade, I ventured into the woods seeking the elusive Chanterelle mushroom. I knew that it was a yellow mushroom with ridges running from it’s cap down most of the length of it’s stem. I knew that they smelled like apricots…
The story of hunting Chanterelle mushrooms is one that I’ll save for next month when they begin (hopefully) popping out of the forest floor in droves, but it was this formative moment, where I purposefully entered the woods looking for a wild food, that has guided me to where I am now.
About two years ago I started North Spore Mushroom Company with a couple friends from college that shared my growing interest (pun intended) in mushrooms. We currently cultivate six species of mushroom and grow mushroom spawn, the equivalent of seeds in the mushroom cultivation world, for home gardeners, small farms, and mushroom operations throughout New England.
For those of you who feel wary of foraging wild mushrooms, it is my secondary goal for this blog to help you through the process of cultivating your own mushrooms. This happens to be an incredible use of shady parts of your garden or land, a great introduction to the mycological world, and a key means of attaining a powerful super food without having to pay an arm and leg!
I look forward to this summer’s foraging and cooking and am excited to have the opportunity to share it with BDN readers!