Johnna Holmgren is a lifestyle blogger and Instagram influencer who lives in a precious A-frame house buried in the woods of Minnesota with her husband Max, a “chalk artist,” and their three daughters. On Instagram, where she goes as “Fox Meets Bear” in a nod to her impossibly twee hipster marriage, Holmgren documents the family’s rustic lifestyle which includes cooking and foraging for food near their home—and hosting these kinds of dinner parties.
Recently, Holmgren published her first book, the saccharine-titled Tales from a Forager’s Kitchen: The Ultimate Field Guide to Evoke Curiosity and Wonderment with More Than 80 Recipes and Foraging Tips. Unfortunately, one of the recipes found in the book for “Dark Chocolate Dipped Fungi” has caused an outcry for safety issues.
The recipe calls for “two cups of in-season foraged mushrooms,” which instructs the reader to brush and wash the fungi, drizzle or dip in melted chocolate, sprinkle with salt and “rose petals, citrus, or mint,” and then refrigerate to cool. One of the suggested varieties of fungi is morel mushrooms, which are potentially harmful if eaten raw, and some are worried about Holmgren’s potential readers.
The Michigan Department of Community Health warns that consuming raw morels can lead to “nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.” Additionally, Richard Pizarro of the Minnesota Mycological Society told BuzzFeed that “as a general rule, no wild mushrooms should be eaten raw.”
At the time of this writing, 26 percent of the Amazon reviews for Holmgren’s book are one-star, with readers calling her out for “dangerously bad recipes” and “criminally bad, irresponsible advice.”
“Wild mushrooms should NOT be eaten raw!! This book needs to be recalled. You better make sure your health insurance is up to date before trying these recipes. My boyfriend was violently ill after eaten under-cooked morels,” wrote one reviewer. “If you try the chocolate dipped raw wild fungi recipe, better clear your calendar for the next few days while you are sitting on the toilet. This is not a joke.”
The publisher, Rodale Books, said it’s taking the discussions very seriously, while Holmgren is defending herself by claiming that her cookbook is for “adventurous eaters.” “We have personally eaten raw mushrooms and have not had negative experiences,” she wrote in an email to BuzzFeed.
Her website, on the other hand, states the following warning:
While I strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. I am not a health professional, medical doctor, nor a nutritionist. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site and any published content.
As per usual, buyer beware, especially if you’re not a so-called “adventurous eater.”