Johnna Holmgren’s “Tales from a Forager’s Kitchen” Cookbook Is Getting Torn Apart Because Of Ingredients That Could Be Poisonous

johnna holmgren cookbook

Just in the last few years, “Instagram influencer” became an actual job. Pretty much, in order to be an influencer, you have to have a lot of followers and be committed to your account. But it’s not as easy as it sounds — and as you know with the internet, things can go from great to ugly in an instant. That’s what Johnna Holmgren of “Fox Meets Bear” learned after her new cookbook raised a few concerned eyebrows.

Holmgren’s latest read, Tales from a Forager’s Kitchen, seems like an interesting take on cooking that many other notable chefs and food enthusiasts haven’t yet touched. As her website states, her overall manta is: “Feet on the earth. Hands in the dirt. Heart wide open. Head in the clouds.” Just by the sound of it, you’d probably picture that Holmgren’s cookbook contains a lot of healthy, earthy recipes with extra fresh ingredients. And, well — sort of.

The book is being panned because some of the ingredients Holmgren recommends are actually a little toxic.


While they’ve been tested by Holmgren — who lives in the woods with her children and husband Max, a chalk artist — they’re leaving fans ill. The main recipe in question was for dark chocolate-dipped fungi. According to Buzzfeed News, the recipe calls for “two cups of in-season foraged mushrooms.” Personally, Holmgren recommends morel mushrooms.

Now, morel mushrooms have been used in cooking before. Holmgren isn’t the first or last person to recommend them. “They’re widespread, they’re easy to identify, and they come up in the spring, giving people a reason to get out and enjoy warm weather after a long winter,” Field & Stream states. “They’re popular simply because they taste so good.”

But here’s the problem — it’s a health risk to eat wild mushrooms that are raw. Especially morels. According to Untamed Feast, “Morels are not to be eaten raw or consumed in large quantities because they contain a mildly toxic substance, which is destroyed in cooking.

Those who tried the recipe and felt ill were quick to warn others through Amazon. “I can tell this author put a lot of love into this project,” a commenter by the name of Wild Rose wrote. “I am just disappointed that the author, editor, and publisher let so much [misinformation] about wild food ingredients be shared in this way. When you share misinformation like this, it can bring down the foraging community.”

Others also made sure to pinpoint her use of raw elderberries. Buzzfeed spoke to a professional who claims they’re likely not as harmful as the mushrooms, but may still cause negative reactions.

In an email to Buzzfeed, Holmgren reportedly stated that the recipes in her cookbook were for “adventurous eaters.”

So in short, it’s a good reminder that while it’s fun to view the lives of influencers, their way of life might not be good to emulate. If you do decide to be a forager like Holmgren, make sure you’re a pro at identifying plants, and gain all of the knowledge you can from various sources.

To learn more about (and protect yourself from) poisonous plants, visit the CDC’s website. They also have information about symptoms and first aid.

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