Not All Things Found in Nature Are Good for You


Luckily for me, I never eat mushrooms:

Donna Davis thought she had hit the jackpot with the two bags of mushrooms she collected in the woods of Northern California’s Salt Point State Park. Instead, she ended up in the hospital, facing the possibility of a liver transplant, after mistakenly eating a poisonous mushroom known as the death cap.

The 55-year-old life coach and her boyfriend had collected chanterelles, matsutakes and hedgehog mushrooms, all sought-after edible species. That night, Davis made mushroom soup for herself, her boyfriend and a group of their friends.”It was amazingly delicious,” Davis says. So good, in fact, that she had two bowls.

And she felt fine. Until the next afternoon. “I slept for three days,” says Davis, of her illness in December 2014. “I was kind of in and out of it, just drinking water and not being able to really hold anything down.” When she dragged herself to a mirror, she realized she had turned yellow.

Davis isn’t the first or only forager who has fallen victim to the death cap. Between 2010 and 2015, five people died in California and 57 became sick after eating these unassuming greenish mushrooms, according to the California Poison Control System. One mushroom cap is enough to kill a human being, and they’re also poisonous to dogs.


In our enthusiasm for “natural” foods, it’s always well to keep in mind that Nature is neutral where we are concerned; she’s just as happy to kill us as to nurture us.



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