Mother Nature has created some prime conditions for morel mushroom hunting this year, but the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has rules for anyone who wants to sell them.
According to the MDARD, people who wish to sell mushrooms must either be certified as an expert or have an expert examine their mushrooms before they sell them.
The potential experts must apply in writing and explain what kind of mushrooms they want to sell and how they were trained to identify them.
MDARD Regional Supervisor, Jim Padden, says that morel mushroom hunting has become increasingly more popular in recent years and that they have seen a lot more people selling by the road this year. Padden says the majority of those sellers are not following the law.
"If you're buying wild mushrooms you should be able to have the person that is selling them provide you with how those mushrooms were identified by a state recognized expert," said Padden.
MDARD encourages people to buy from licensed retailers at stores. They say the safest thing to do is educate yourself on the mushrooms that you plan to buy.
State recognized expert, Ken Harris, has been hunting morels and other types of mushrooms for more than 40 years. He says he's noticed people selling rotten morel mushrooms to people who are unfamiliar with what they are supposed to look like and that it makes him angry because it takes away from what should be a good experience.
"They're excited about it and they get it, something that's not even food quality," said Harris. "It's like eating rotten lettuce for the first time. You're never going to eat lettuce again. It's the same thing with the mushrooms."
Below, the MDARD lists the requirements people must follow for selling wild plants or mushrooms in Michigan.â??To be approved to sell wild mushrooms, wild herbs, or other wild plants in Michigan, the vendor must satisfy all of the following provisions:
The seller must be recognized as appropriately trained and competent in the identification of safe botanical and mycological varieties. Alternatively, the seller may employ a recognized expert.
The seller shall submit a written statement to the MDARD Food & Dairy Division identifying the person who will verify the species and the procedures for safeguarding against the sale of potentially injurious mushrooms. The statement shall include a description of that personâ??s education, experience and expertise.
Each individual wild mushroom shall be inspected and identified by the recognized expert. Only those identified as safe may be sold.
Each storage container of mushrooms shall be labeled with the scientific and common name of the mycological variety. Packaged mushrooms may be identified by the common name only and shall bear additional labeling in full accordance with current state and federal requirements.
Written records that indicate the quantity, variety, expert identifier, and buyer of the mushrooms shall be retained by the packer for a period of not less than two years. These records shall be made available for MDARD examination, upon request.
Wild mushrooms shall be handled and protected from contamination in accordance with all current state and federal regulations associated with the handling and processing of foods intended for human consumption.
The vendor is not presently required to hold a license from MDARD for any given farmers market; however, slicing or other processing or warehousing of wild mushrooms must take place in an approved food establishment licensed by MDARD or a local health department.â??