- Instagram influencer Johnna Holmgren published a cookbook of recipes from ingredients foraged from the forest.
- Some of those ingredients are potentially toxic, as Amazon reviewers are pointing out.
- Holmgren told BuzzFeed News that foragers need to be extra careful to make sure they’re eating the right species of food.
In May, Johnna Holmgren hit a milestone in her career as an Instagram influencer. She published a book called “Tales From a Forager’s Kitchen,” which shares recipes like Star Anise Porridge and Wild Rice French Toast.
They use ingredients that can largely be foraged from the woods, fitting the outdoorsy, herbalist brand on her 128,000-follower-strong Instagram account Fox Meets Bear .
But her fans seem to have found a problem with the book. Some of the recipes, as BuzzFeed News reported , appear to recommend toxic ingredients. Reviewers are leaving one-star reviews warning other people not to buy the book.
In particular, several reviewers who claim to be foraging chefs themselves are objecting to recipes that call for raw foraged mushrooms.
A recipe for Dark Chocolate Dipped Fungi recommends the reader “brush and wash” morel mushrooms before covering them in chocolate. But organizations like the Michigan Department of Community Health warns that eating raw morel mushrooms can cause “nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain,” and experts generally recommend that no wild mushrooms should ever be eaten raw. Some reviewers also say that the fungi in several recipe photos are misidentified in the text, and that using the wrong one can cause health issues.
Other recipes recommend using raw elderberries and foraged acorns. Elderberries can cause digestive issues if eaten raw. And Philip Stark, who heads a foraging organization at Berkeley University , told BuzzFeed News that acorns should have their tannins leeched out before being consumed — a process that takes days.
“If the recipe uses only a few acorns, the tannins might be part of the desired flavor, to give some bitterness to the dish,” he said . “But for ‘generic’ acorns in quantity, I think processing would be needed or the dish would be nasty.”
Holmgren told BuzzFeed News that foragers should be careful to properly identify species before consuming them, but that she had “personally eaten raw mushrooms and [had no] negative experiences.”
Her publisher, Rodale Books, told BuzzFeed News it was “reviewing the text.”
Holmgren didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.