'It's good exercise!': Local group scours Edmonton's river valley for mushrooms
EDMONTON -- You probably don’t see them or hear them. But make no mistake, they’re out there, Edmontonians who love nothing more than scouring the river valley for their favourite fungi.
People like Michele Lamontagne. On the hunt for for a plentiful mushroom in Gold Bar Park, called hericium coriolis americanus.
“Food is my love, I am a chef. I like to cook” says Lamontagne.
The 63-year-old is part of the Alberta Mushroom Gang. One of its almost 2,000 members on a Facebook group.
A number far actually below the amount of mushroom species in the wild, more than 50,000 worldwide.
Some mushrooms are used for food, others have medicinal properties or can cause hallucinations, while some are poisonous to varying degrees.
“We’re going to find edible mushrooms, toxic mushrooms and probably lethal mushrooms too” he said before hitting the river side trail.
Its not a simple task finding the fungi. Mushrooms grow in moist soil away from direct sunlight usually on the bark of rotting trees.
Lamontagne doesn’t mind crawling through thick vegetation to find his prey.
“Its easy at Safeway! Its harder here, its good exercise, you bend and stretch.”
He likes to grind up the mushrooms in his basket to bake homemade bread and always makes sure what he cooks with is 100 per cent healthy.
But what he enjoys most is a good excuse to get outside and make himself work.
“Sometimes I go for 45 minutes and find nothing and I go ahhh this is terrible. Then all of a sudden I find one and I am there for three hours looking for more and finding them!”