Streamlined certification puts more local mushrooms on the menu
There are 109 people certified to sell wild mushrooms in Michigan this year. That’s after the state offered classes for foragers to get certified to sell.
Chris Wright, executive director of Midwest American Mycological Information, offers the certification classes. He says the classes have leveled the playing field. Before they became available in the past year, it wasn't clear how foragers could meet state certification requirements. So a lot of them didn't.
Wright says taking a class "allows people to do business as usual" while now following state standards.
Tom Kaszubowski is executive chef at Chandler’s Restaurant in Petoskey.
He says he’s been serving up locally foraged mushrooms all along, but the certification classes have increased the variety of mushrooms he’s getting.
"I have a guy that only gets me chanterelles who found a good amount of chicken of the woods mushrooms," says Kaszurbowski. He thinks that's because that forager learned about chicken of the woods mushrooms in his certification class.
Kaszubowski says there are also more foragers selling mushrooms now.
Eric Patterson is a chef at The Cooks’ House in Traverse City. He's excited about the changes. His restaurant didn't serve locally foraged mushrooms until the certification process was streamlined.
"It gives us access to wild mushrooms, which is fantastic," says Patterson, "especially up here in northern Michigan where they grow so well and there’s such an abundance of them."
Patterson hopes the state will look into certifying foragers for other wild edibles like asparagus or carrots so he can put them on the menu as well.
The certification classes ensure that wild mushroom retailers are selling edible mushrooms, reducing health risks. Wright says they had an 80 percent passing rate in his classes this past year.
Midwest American Mycological Information will be offering two certification classes this fall. One in Mackinaw City and the other in Lansing.