Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Spring 2017, Volume 43, No. 1 - Page 9

JEB: Was your major at Cornell related to agriculture? ARM: I went to Brown as an undergrad. At Cornell, I was working for the Depart- ment of Horticulture and was directing a mushroom research project and directing the McDaniels Nut Grove project for a year or two. JEB: So you left the Nut Grove to come to law school. Was that part of the grand plan or it just happened? ARM: It sort of just happened that way, I would say. I went to Vermont Law School which has a stellar reputation for environ- mental law –it was ranked #1 again this year! JEB: Excellent! ARM: That was part of what was a con- nection between my environmental inter- ests and my greater interest in conserv- ing landscapes that yield these products that I love. There was a connection there in terms of that spirit of conservation and wanting to prepare myself to have tools to conserve through law and policy. JEB: And Vermont has a lot of nature! So let’s talk about Vermont mushrooms. I have found morels before, and I guess I didn’t realize how brave I was to try them, but my understanding is that the morel is fairly simple. I know there is a dangerous lookalike, but if it’s not completely hollow, it’s probably not a morel. Is that how that works? ARM: I hesitate to provide any sort of general rule, because you really have got to see everything in person. There are very dangerous lookalikes to the morel, but if you know what you are doing and if you can really confirm that it is completely hol- low from tip to tail, it’s probably a morel. Yes, the hollow cavity that is contiguous throughout the whole interior is a crucial ID feature to rule out some very nasty loo- kalikes including the Gyromitra false morel which contains a chemical used in rocket fuel. JEB: Rocket fuel --that does sound dan- gerous! ARM: In some mushroom loving coun- tries, because there are many of those in Eastern Europe and Asia, some false mo- www.vtbar.org rels may be actually cooked and boiled through multiple changes of water to get rid of these nasty toxins until it becomes “edible,” however that practice is not rec- ommended and can result inhaling some nasty fumes if you are not careful. JEB: You’d have to really love those mushrooms to do that. I had a friend once who just loved the taste of barracuda and if you eat them when they are small enough you will be fine, but if they are over a cer- tain age they are toxic, and you immediate- ly have to your stomach pumped. I think it happened to him maybe 4 times but he just couldn’t stay away from the barracuda, so I guess you have to love morels to take that chance. ARM: Yes, I would not put myself in that risk-taking camp, even though I love mo- rels so much, I am a bit of a connoisseu r, a snob. I have very specific list of probably 15-20 species, maybe even 10 that I really adore and favor, and though I am adven- turous, I am always extremely safe and cau- tious. Part of the joy for me is to never have to worry about being poisoned, just to know that with 100% confidence, as confi- dent as I would be as distinguishing an ap- ple from an orange, that I can tell a Chan- terelle from a false Chanterelle or a Jack-o- lantern poison look-alike. I think that to get to the point where you are absolutely posi- tive in what you are eating is safe, and that it is also delicious is what I find the most enjoyable. I love to have that level of confi- dence and mastery. ARM: I am sure she wasn’t thrilled with it, though she did appreciate my gener- al love of the woods and nature. I think I probably reassured her that it was my way to marvel at the natural world and it wasn’t about eating things for the table. She took comfort in the fact that I never actually ate any wild mushrooms until I got much older and gained the confidence to do so prop- erly. JEB: So, maybe I shouldn’t have started with morels then! Not so easy. I love them, and spring is coming so morels came to mind since they are so delicious, but how about the giant puffball? Now my under- standing about that one is that you cannot be mistaken, if you find a large white vol- leyball in the field in Vermont, you can eat that, if it is solid. ARM: Yes, as long as you don’t have an allergy and as long as you cook it, and as long as it is still ripe and fresh. There are still some caveats there, but yes, the gi- ant puffball is a very distinctive life form. It looks like a volleyball…. JEB: It kind of tastes like one too! ARM: Yes, exactly, it tastes and looks like a volleyball. Not one of my favorites. JEB: It’s kind of like tofu, it tastes like whatever you put it in? ARM: Right. You still have to make sure it’s bigger than your fist, to rule out look- alikes, and that it is solid white on the in- terior with solid white firm flesh. Even a good mushroom obviously can get rotten, just like good meat can go foul, so even if it’s an edible species, you will want to THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • SPRING 2017 9