An Instagram influencer and blogger has had her cookbook recalled after several foraging experts and Amazon reviewers pointed out that many of her recipes could make you ill.
Johnna Holmgren (also known as Fox Meets Bear) is a Minnesotan-based mom of three who blogs about foraging, cooking, gardening, and "peaceful parenting". Over the years, she's racked up more than 130,000 Instagram followers and curated a beautifully stylized feed filled with snapshots of candlelit dinner parties, woodland jaunts, and bunches of freshly picked radishes.
A cookbook selling her back to nature-based lifestyle and aesthetic, Tales From a Forager's Kitchen, was published in May this year but has been recalled just a few months later after a torrent of bad reviews and a news report from BuzzFeed, which highlighted how dangerous some of the recipes could be.
"Unfortunately, I have to conclude that this book... contains several quite glaring and damning errors that would have immediately been caught by anyone with at least a couple years of experience with wild foods – or cooking, for that matter," wrote one reviewer, forager and host of The Good Life Revival Podcast, Sam Sycamore.
In response, Crown Publishing released a statement on Thursday explaining their decision to discontinue the book. This is what they had to say:
"Rodale Books and our author Johnna Holmgren take very seriously the concerns expressed by readers regarding the preparation and cooking of recipes with raw ingredients (mushrooms and elderberries) that are contained in her recently published Tales From A Forager’s Kitchen. In light of our review of these concerns, and because of our dedication to wellness, Rodale Books and Johnna Holmgren have decided to discontinue the publication and promotion of the book." Customers who have already purchased the cookbook, they add, will be offered a full refund.
Reviewers have raised concern over the use of raw elderberries and foraged acorns in the cookbook, which also have the potential to make you ill. The recipe that drew particular criticism ("Dark Chocolate Dipped Fungi") contained raw morels in mushrooms, an ingredient that can cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten uncooked. Cooking destroys the compound responsible for these nasty side effects.
As some reviewers have also pointed out, determining what mushrooms are safe to eat and what are toxic may be a tricky exercise for beginners. It's easy to mistake edible fungi for similar-looking but toxic varieties, such as "false morels", which can cause delirium, seizures, and even comas or death if left untreated, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Poison Control Center told BuzzFeed.
On her website, Holmgren tells readers, "While I strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification."
"Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. I am not a health professional, medical doctor, nor a nutritionist."
If only more Instagram wellness bloggers made that clear.