DEVOUR & CONQUER

Exploring, eating and writing about good food on Canada's west coast

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A few thoughts on losing wild mushroom ecosystems to Vancouver Island clear-cutting

November 19, 2012


Devour and Conquer is supposed to be about my adventures with food around British Columbia, and although I've been conflicted about my feelings on the ever-present logging and clear-cutting issues on Vancouver Island since I moved here, I didn't expect food and clear-cutting to come alarmingly together on a random culinary trip.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been really looking forward to my second annual wild Chanterelle mushroom forage through the forests of central Vancouver Island. Last year's mushroom picking experience was a revelation to me - I've been growing my own backyard self-sufficient kitchen garden for few years now, but this was the first time I experienced trekking into the wilderness and foraged for an international culinary delicacy, growing all on its own in its natural environment.

Returning to the same location this year with my mushroom picking friends who have foraged these same locations for generations, we were horrified to find that the entire area had been razed to the ground, the mushroom-filled forest floor now a ripped and torn mess of broken tree limbs. The moss-covered earth and small creeks and streams were completely gone, replaced by burned piles of logs and rocky refuse left by logging trucks which had destroyed the entire ecosystem. I felt physically sick and the expressions on the faces of my friends who have hiked these forests for their entire lives was heartbreaking. We soldiered on and stopped in a few other small pockets of forest which still have Chanterelles hidden here and there, but the beautiful spot we knew is now gone forever.

I haven't yet decided exactly how to reconcile my feelings about what I saw last week, really feeling the impact of clear-cutting first hand for the first time. So I'm just going to share a few pictures of the area from November 2011 and November 2012 and leave it at that for now. Please share your your own thoughts in the comments section - any points of view are welcome in this convoluted issue.

For more information and great recipes for amazing, increasingly hard to find wild Chanterelle mushrooms, visit Wild About Mushroom's Chanterelle page.

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Ah, yes, nothing more depressing than a clear cut.

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