The super food trend is history already. Thank goodness. In case someone missed it, it was largely a phenomenon whereby ordinary, very healthy foreign raw foodstuffs were marketed to us Finns as miracle products. Already then, many experts were proclaiming that Finland’s own forests are full of super foods such as lingonberries and other berries.
One native super food that is, however, less frequently mentioned is the mushroom. When we think this is something corresponding in lightness to vegetables - and that is largely composed of protein - then it would seem logical in this weight-conscious age that mushrooms would be one of the most talked about and desired foods. And when there is cause to be concerned about Finns’ adequate intake of vitamin D, you could imagine that chanterelles would pop up even more often in conversation since just a handful of fried chanterelles actually contain a day’s vitamin D requirement!
I actually feel sorry for mushrooms. With less than five percent of the mushroom crop in our forests collected, many mushrooms grow and flourish in vain. There is no-one around to comment on them nor to praise them. When you consider how excited little children get when they find a mushroom and how adults enthuse when they find an exceptionally large specimen, then it seems a shame that so much of this good feeling goes unnoticed. Then much of that feel-good sensation is wasted.
Mushrooms divide opinion both with regard to taste and to mouth-feel but at least when I personally think of the wonderful salty taste of a juicy bolete bake or the aroma of fried chanterelles, then I do feel a bit sorry. Mushrooms take care of their business - we don’t.
What’s more, if we’re going to get really serious about being healthy, it’s almost impossible to set about mushroom foraging without actually performing the day’s minimum requirement for exercise. But mushroom foraging is not really a question of health, it’s about nature, being outdoors and being somewhere different from the everyday with those close to you - or being in calm solitude. It’s about a good feeling, putting everyday things in perspective and coping.
Even for the experienced forager every time feels as good as the last, but first-timers I know, encouraged to step out into the forest, are the ones who get a buzz from it. That’s an experience I would wish on everyone else as well. And while finding mushrooms is a nice bonus, the journey into the forest is worth the effort, even if your basket remains empty.The writer is a nutrition expert and the Metsähallitus nature services national park godfather who believes nature is one of the best places to spend time, even with little children as well.