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Humans of Millbury: Rachel

My grandmother always took me out and taught me herbs, flowers and berries and I just thought this was normal.  I would just go out and forage things and find stuff to eat and I thought everybody did that.  Ever since I could remember, that's what we did.  

Turns out her grandfather, my great grandfather, who passed away before I was born, he was one of the founders of the Boston Mycological Club.  The oldest mushroom club in the United States.  He and his friends founded it back in the late 1800s.  So foraging is just something my grandmother's family did.

I would go to the town park and if I saw a berry or something I would just ask one of the older people playing chess and they would be like “oh that’s a mulberry” or something.  So I learned from anyone around. 

That’s a chicken mushroom and it tastes like chicken.  It's an easy mushroom for beginner level mushrooming because it doesn’t have a poisonous lookalike.  I start people out on mushrooms like that.  If you make a mistake, you’re gonna end up with another edible mushroom or a non toxic mushroom.

I always keep a point of reference.  You can hear the road, so you know where the road is. Because if you’re mushrooming, you’ve got your head down and can get completely disoriented. 

I think it blows everyone's mind when they realize how much stuff is edible and medicinal.  It basically grows in their backyard.  They’re just blown away.  I think they think that you have to look really hard and only find something once in a while and that might be true for mushrooming if it's a dry year but if you include plants and trees and bushes in your foraging you're gonna find something everywhere you look.  They’re blown away when they realize this nasty weed they've been trying to get rid of is actually something amazing.

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