Thursday, May 23, 2013
George Smith ("Maine has a mushrooming problem at the State House," May 11) has facts and the issues wrong.
I am a member of the task force on mushroom certification and the Maine Mycological Association.
Smith incorrectly stated all foragers need certification; only foragers selling to restaurants and other venues that sell to the public would need certification.
The majority of foragers, who sell to certified brokers, would not require certification, nor would foragers selling to other certified sources such as chefs and some markets or people picking for their own table.
And foragers will need certification only on the species of mushrooms they sell.
Many foragers sell fewer than five species and will be required to know only those well. Certification will be $75 for five years, not the $200 that Smith stated. That's cheaper than a fishing license.
Smith also says, "The Maine Mycological Association has pushed the bill hard. The association would be the only entity offering the course, giving it a windfall and total control over who gets certified."
The MMA is the only mushroom organization in the state. Members I've talked with are actually ambivalent. There is no windfall.
As a mushroom book author myself, I know the commission checks are small.
I have met quite a number of chefs, too, who would like wild mushrooms on their menu, but will not buy them because of uncertainty about their identification skills. They opt not to take the chance.
Being certified would likely change a no-sale into a sale.
Restaurants all over Europe serve wild mushrooms.
The European Union has had certification for years. In these mycophilic cultures, people learned long ago that inspection and certification prevents illness and saves lives.
The Maine Mushroom Certification Program will be good for the business of wild mushrooms.