Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Spring 2017, Volume 43, No. 1 - Page 10

Happiness make sure that it is still fresh, and that it is cooked, because mushrooms really need to be cooked. In fact, morels actually, as divine as morels are, they are poisonous raw! So there are some great edibles that are poisonous raw and on top of that, it is much more nutritious to eat cooked wild mushrooms because it breaks down the cell wall and releases more nutrients. JEB: I was not aware of that. I eat raw button mushrooms in salad, but you men- tioned that they are not real mushrooms. ARM: They are very tame. JEB: Tame, innocuous mushroom. ARM: Actually, even those are mild- ly carcinogenic, eating them raw in large quantities over time, though nothing to panic about. JEB: Ok, so we have morels and puff- balls, what are the most common mush- rooms in Vermont that you find or that you like to find? ARM: Well, I love the hen of the woods or maitake, which comes out in the fall and it looks like a hen roosting at the base of an oak tree. That was the first wild mush- room that I ever found before I was even confident eating them as a kid. I found a hen of the woods under an oak tree on my driveway and was pretty sure that was 10 what it was, and then 20 years later or so, my dad went back to that same tree and there it was, this hen of the woods in the fall, fruiting again and since then, we have been eating it from that tree every fall as it comes back. When you find a good tree or a good spot, it really can be a special treat that will last you for decades in many cases. That is why people covet the knowledge so much of their spots and they are so pos- sessive about their good spots. Maitake means dancing mushroom in Japanese, because it is exciting enough that it might make you do a little dance to discover a tree lined with maybe several hens when each might be at least 5 pounds! So they are massive and delicious gourmet mush- rooms. JEB: Now when you harvest it, do you have to leave some so it comes back next year, because I think that happens with mo- rels, right? You cannot take them all. ARM: Yes, that is a great question. It is always really important to be mindful of ethical wild harvest. The guidelines for what is sustainable varies for each species; some are more easily exhausted than oth- ers but the general rule of thumb is that I never pick more than half a patch. In the case of maitake, if you saw a tree with sev- eral of them, I would take just one or two and also being careful not to disturb the THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • SPRING 2017 soil. The maitake fruit has something called the sclerotium which is an underground, hardened mass of mycelium which is like a dense energy reserve and you don’t want to disturb that sclerotium when you harvest maitake. The mushroom is just the fruit of the organism, mycelium. JEB: Is it like a root system of a plant? I mean is that what is under there? ARM: It is a little different because in the case of a tree, the roots and the tree are all the organism, the whole trunk is the organ- ism, the branches are the organism, and in the case of the mushroom, the mushroom is really the fruit of the organism so when you pick a mushroom, you are not actually killing anything if you do it carefully. You are just picking its fruit so it’s not like uproot- ing a tree, but with that said, the spores and the fruiting bodies are still very impor- tant for genetic diversity and reproduction, so that is why it is so important to leave at least half the patch in the ground and to fa- vor picking mature mushrooms. JEB: That makes sense. Are there other ones in Vermont that you particularly enjoy finding and/or eating? ARM: Oh yes. There are many. Right here in Vermont I would say, even with- in close proximity of Vermont Law School, there are incredible mushrooms of many www.vtbar.org