How to Start Foraging in 4 Easy Steps

You'll be gathering wild edible plants and mushrooms in no time!

Posted by Carolyn Dugas on June 28, 2020 · 2 minute read

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It's time to start foraging!

Curious about how to start foraging for wild foods? Join us as we learn four easy steps you can take to start off on your foraging journey. Although wild food gathering may seem intimidating to the uninitiated, with some strategic learning you can be foraging in no time. Just switch on your plant (or mushroom) brain and let’s get learning!

Reputable Sources for ID Verification

It is important to verify the species of any wild plant or mushroom with 3 reputable sources before you consume it. This is so that you can be certain that you have the correct edible species. Here is a list of reputable sources!

  • Local field guides. Aim for state- or region-specific guides. Google will usually point you in the right direction.
  • Plants only: Any book by Samuel Thayer. Although the books don't cover an exhaustive list of species, each species is covered thoroughly. His most recent two books contain many edible species found throughout the United States.
  • Plants only: Newcomb's Flower Guide. It is often easiest to ID a plant when it is in flower.
  • Mushrooms only: Regional field guides co-authored by Alan + Arleen Bessette. Other field guides are fine, but the Bessettes tend to do a really thorough job.
  • Mushrooms only: Many thanks to Jules Amanita for pointing out that the Mushroom Expert website does in fact count as a reputable source. You can find high-quality ID information about many edible mushrooms, although the website itself does not mark which mushrooms are edible.

If you are just starting out on your foraging adventure, I recommend checking out your local library system which is often a treasure trove of information and field guides. Used book stores can be great for finding deals on ID books as well.

In general, the internet can be a great place to find inspiration for ID for plants and mushrooms, although I personally do not count most corners of the internet as reputable sources, with the notable exception of the Mushroom Expert website.

Carolyn Dugas, Forager


Carolyn was born and raised in the woods of New England, where she attempted to feed "moss smoothies" to unsuspecting strangers as a child. Mercifully, her wild food skills have improved since then, thanks in part to a year-long foraging apprenticeship in 2017. Since then, she has been collecting and preparing wild foods on a daily basis. Learn more here.

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