Mushroom Foragers

How I learned to love the hunt

 
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Ask: Pick a subculture, immerse yourself, and bring it to life in a short film.

Why mushroom foraging?

When I come across something I am unfamiliar with, I do a deep dive and try to find out as much as possible about the topic. So when I discovered I liked mushrooms after a childhood of hating mushrooms, I bought books, talked to the local mushroom vendor every chance I got, and looked into where these delicious things came from. Foraging was something I was so unfamiliar with that I knew I had to experience it to understand it. I was hoping to understand how people got into it and how it worked.

 

Teaser trailer:

 
 
 

I sought out different levels of foragers, from the novice to the expert, and learned a thing or two about who exactly a mushroom forager is:

For much of the world (and parts of the U.S.), foraging is ingrained in the culture.

It really comes down to safety and a break in the chain of knowledge. A mushroom that is safe to eat in Europe might not be safe in the U.S. Even some mushrooms on the West Coast aren’t safe to eat on the East Coast. Since mushroom knowledge is usually passed down amongst families and communities, the knowledge of what was safe and where to find was lost as families migrated to the U.S. You still hear stories about recent immigrants becoming ill–or worse–from eating foraged mushrooms, so it’s still very much a real issue. 

Mushroom foraging is all about connection. 

There were many different reasons why people got into mushroom foraging: to make money, to eat something delicious, to use medicinally, etc. 

Whatever the reason people had for foraging, the common theme throughout all the interviews was connection. There was a deep respect for how mushrooms are so intricately linked to the ecosystem. 

Some things are still a secret…

Even though mushroom foragers are open and accepting of anyone who is interested and wants to learn, there is still a level of secrecy when it come to mushroom spots. It’s not just for truffles, the location of prized mushrooms such as chanterelles and morels is kept close to the chest of a die hard mushroom forager. 

Full video:

 
 
 

My favorite thing about this project was finally getting to go foraging! I loved the experience of gaining first hand knowledge of an area like Central Park.