Article: Foraging for Mushrooms: A Quick Background

Foraging for Mushrooms: A Quick Background

Autumn marks the end of the spring mushroom season and the beginning of the fall mushroom season. In the northeast of the United States, mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and colors dot the grounds of forests.

 7 U.S.C. Ch. 90 states the importance of ongoing mushroom research to the U.S. domestic and international economy. These laws were enacted through the 1990 Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act (Subtitle B of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990), which also established the Mushroom Council in 1993.

Color photograph of a red capped mushroom with a thick white stalk. The mushroom sits amidst forest detritus including pine needles and leaves, and under green leaves from various shrubs. The surroundings are blurred to enhance focus on the mushroom.
A species of mushroom, identified by the author to be of the Russula genus, in Mt. Riga State Park in Northwestern Connecticut. Photograph by Bailey DeSimone.


For those interested in foraging, the practice of collecting food ingredients from wilderness areas, regulations for picking mushrooms on federal property are defined by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For personal use, the legal limit is generally no more than one gallon of mushrooms of any single species per day. Those entering the mushroom trade must purchase a commercial permit. However, it is best to consult the guidelines of each federally-owned park you visit before picking any mushrooms.

State parks are controlled at the state level. As of 2017, Connecticut authorized the taking of mushrooms from state-owned land for personal use. While personal use includes foraging and cooking, it is best to take a guidebook (the Library’s collections have quite a few historic ones), or a mushroom identification expert with you before taste-testing any wild mushrooms.

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