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Food Blogger Johnna Holmgren’s Cookbook Pulled From Shelves Over Concerns Ingredients Are Unsafe

Johnna Holmgren's, Tales From a Foragers Kitchen
Johnna Holmgren's, Tales From a Foragers Kitchen Rodale

The natural food trend has earned blogger Johnna Holmgren a following of over 131,000 on Instagram and a book deal, but now she’s in hot water because of safety concerns. In fact, experts and readers are claiming some ingredients used in several of the recipes found in her new cookbook, Tales From a Forager’s Kitchen, can sicken those who eat them.

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Holmgren is known for recipes that feature uncultivated, foraged foods such as raw, wild mushrooms, elderflowers and wild blueberry bee pollen, but the backlash over her book has been so intense that the publisher, Rodale, was forced to pull it from shelves on Friday, August 10.

“Rodale Books and our author Johnna Holmgren take very seriously the concerns expressed by readers regarding the preparation and cooking of recipes with raw ingredients (mushrooms and elderberries) that are contained in her recently published Tales From a Forager’s Kitchen,” the Crown Publishing Group imprint said in a statement. “In light of our review of these concerns, and because of our dedication to wellness, Rodale Books and Johnna Holmgren have decided to discontinue the publication and promotion of the book.”

The publisher added that it’s “encouraging retailers to return their stock,” and offering a full refund to customers who have already purchased the book.

“We are all committed to publishing books that offer reliable and comprehensive guidance about their subjects and we regret the inconvenience to our booksellers and readers.” the statement concluded.

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Despite Rodale’s swift action, many consumers have already slammed the company for publishing the book to begin with. “I am an avid forager, chef, and I have worked as a recipe-tester for a number of cookbooks. So a lot of errors jumped out at me right away in this book, even when I wasn’t looking for them,” read one Amazon review of Tales From a Forager’s Kitchen.

Another reviewer, who claimed to be a foraging chef, called out the unsafe mushroom and raw elderberry recipes, in particular, and wrote, “There are a number of mistakes in this book. Foraging takes great knowledge and can make people very sick if you grab the wrong plant.”

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Rodale’s decision to publish the book seems ill-advised considering Holmgren’s own website contains a disclaimer stating she is not responsible for any risks that may arise from her recipes. “While I strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects,” the statement says. “I am not a health professional, medical doctor, nor a nutritionist. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site and any published content.”

In the first edition of the book, Holmgren even warned that some wild fungi “can be so dangerous and their potency so strong that it may lead to death.”

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