My previous boss was a good soul.
Knowing how I eschewed grocery stores and occasionally found the makings of my meals in a nearby forest, she would often send me links to stories about foraging adventures gone awry. You know, the ones about the poor schlep who decided to go mushroom hunting sans guide, using sketchy information to determine whether their find was edible, only to result in a tragic ending.
We shared an office and if time and circumstance allowed, sometimes she’d spare me the trouble of opening another one of her emails and just read the news story to me instead.
“Tell me you won’t eat a mushroom unless you know for sure it’s not poisonous,” she’d press me afterward.
If I came down with a stomach illness, she’d grill me about what I’d eaten and whether I bought it or found it growing along a pathway somewhere in the city.
We’d laugh about it and I’d promise her I’d never be a candidate for a Darwin Award, knowing everything she did came from a place of concern.
Still, I was certain I wouldn’t get sick from foraging. I never put anything in my mouth that I don’t recognize with certainty.
And that rule of thumb has worked for me so far. But eating a bad mushroom, leaf or tap root is clearly the least of my concerns.