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Silent hunt. Mushroom pickers enjoy their autumn harvest

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This year nature has been generous for mushrooms. Not only have those occupied private stores and domestic reserves, but even social networks. A photo with a mushroom is a popular trend now. Alexander Odintsov found out how producers feel during the harvest season and what dangers await mushroom pickers in forests.

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Its autumn harvest time for mushroom pickers. The most expensive – white mushrooms – cost up to a thousand rubles per kilo. The gifts of the forest could be bought at just about every subway station and at spontaneous markets. Although some of those selling forget about consumers’ health, while chasing a profit

Ekaterina Fedorova, mushroom picker: “we saw fake chanterelles being brought here. You can immediately tell those are fake. We told them to leave straight away, we do not want criminal stuff here”

Hawkers admit the season has been good. But even now those who had missed the peak harvest season do not leave forests empty-handed.

Its obvious that there have been more mushrooms this year in forests just outside the city. Although you wont find any mushrooms now if you go along well-known routes. There is a golden rule – the deeper you go into the forest, the more mushrooms you’d find.

It seems that residents find places like this – full of seemingly edible mushrooms. Toxicology department of the Dzanelidze Research Institute has been frequently admitting persons with mushroom poisoning. This year doctors saved 10 people. Just yesterday another two were brought into emergency ward. The story is typical – ate a poisonous amanita while thinking it was an Aspen mushroom. Masters of mushrooms – mycologists – have described 100 000 different types of mushrooms. One could expect a trick or two even from the most popular types of fungus.

Alexander Kovalenko, head of mushroom systematics and geography laboratory at Russian Academy of Sciences: “In our northern forests, there are no poisonous pore mushrooms, apart from bitter boletus. There is no universal way to distinguish an edible mushroom from an inedible one. All mushrooms are very diverse”

One has worms, the other one is over-ripe, the third one is fatally dangerous, despite looking pretty. After the “silent hunt” is done, the mycologist is emptying other mushroom pickers’ baskets. Not because he’s envious, but because he cares about other “hunters”

St. Petersburg’s only champignon producing enterprise generates a huge amount of mushrooms – around 10 tons of champignons a month. Harvest is being collected every day. The stock does not stay at warehouses. Especially now – under sanctions.

Special soil is being made for champignons – from wheat, chicken fertilizers and plaster. The main thing – there are no chemicals.

Olga Selivanova, head of champignon complex: “We don’t take chemicals, there are no viruses here. Even if something happens, the most serious drug is salt with chalk. We put it on the soil – and that is as far as it goes”

And although you can eat these mushrooms without any concerns, people will never stop going into the woods. For many, it is the process of search which is more important. The silent hunt is a special pleasure every autumn. Mycologists and doctors advise mushroom pickers to doubt more. Put only those mushrooms into your bucket, which you are 100 percent sure would be safe for you 

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