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South Coast sees magnificent conditions for wild mushroom foraging


It’s been an especially good fall for wild mushroom foraging on B.C.’s South Coast.

Wet weather and warm temperatures have created "perfect" conditions, according to Bill Jones at Deerholme Farm in the Cowichan Valley.

Jones is also a chef, who cooks multi-course meals focussed around mushrooms. He’s been a self-described "fan of fungi" for a quarter century, writing four of his cookbooks about them. And he’s noticed that eating and harvesting them has grown in popularity in recent years.

“The pandemic was a huge part of it because people had to find ways to amuse themselves, and when you’re out foraging with a partner or someone in your inner circle it's pretty safe,” said Jones, who took a group foraging this past Saturday.

Not only are mushrooms tasty, some types — like the pine mushroom — have rumoured aphrodisiac properties. Many mushrooms are recognized for their health benefits — something increasingly being touted.

“There’s been a lot of evidence recently to show that mushrooms have properties for people in terms of health and wellness,” said Dr. Jasmine Janes, a professor at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.

Despite all the mouth watering, tantalizing reasons to forage for mushrooms, experts say it’s critical to know what you're picking and eating, because some wild mushrooms can cause serious gastrointestinal illness, and others — notably the death cap mushroom -- can be fatal.

“Anyone interested in going out doing mushroom foraging should really get a couple identification books, (or) join a society or forum that helps people with identification,” said Janes.

Foraging season ends around the beginning of December on B.C.’s south coast.

So, for those who know what to look for, there’s a few more weeks left in this particularly prodigious mushroom season. Top Stories

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