Editor’s Note: As we close out this issue of Wildfire and prepare for the Fire Continuum conference,it seems timely to look at the “After” effects of fire, as shared here by the creator of the “Moral Morel” campaign, Francois de Melogue.
[Edited from a media announcement: Washougal, Washington, April 13 , 2018]
Every year, forest fires ravage the west and Pacific Nnorthwest, putting homes, businesses and people in harm’s way. In 2017 alone, there were 66,131 wildfires burning 9.8 million acres. In a two-week period last October (2017), Northern California experienced several forest fires that caused 23 fatalities, burned 245,000 acres, and destroyed 8,700 structures.
The moral dilemma posed by burn morels is: one person’s disaster becomes another person’s bounty. It becomes more striking when talking to a customer, and they ask what our forecast for the upcoming morel season. On one hand forest fires produce extraordinary mushroom flushes, but on the other, several of our friends lost their homes, businesses and even their lives.
In Yosemite National Park alone, it is estimated that over one million morels grew after the last round of fires. Mushroom foragers often refer to morels found in burn areas as ‘burn morels’, but their correct scientific name is ‘phoenicoid’, meaning belonging to a group of fungi that fruit in response to heat. The word has the same root as phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the burnt ashes of its predecessor.
The families of fallen firefighters do not receive any benefits for up to three months after tragedy strikes. Typically, severely injured firefighters only receive 60 percent of their base pay, barely able to support their families after an injury. Many families and firefighters struggle with suicide, depression and guilt after fires, often needing counseling to help cope with the long-term effects caused by horrific fires. The Wildland Firefighters Foundation is a charity built to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families deal with the human toll of fires.
Foods In Season is donating a portion of every burn morel sale towards our goal of $100,000, and is asking the 5,000 restaurants we sell to nationally, and our grocery partners, like Costco and Whole Foods, to join us and help raise awareness for the wildland firefighters. Restaurants in every market can host special morel dinners and donate a portion of the proceeds. Grocery stores can participate by posting signage to help raise awareness and set up in house programs to raise money. Anyone who wants to participate can contact Francois for a downloadable Moral Morel toolkit with more information.
Foods In Season, founded in 1984 by John Anderson, is America’s oldest and most trusted name in hyper seasonal wild foraged and sustainable foods from the Pacific Northwest. Foods in Season is a family built business deeply rooted to the land and place where we come from. The wild foraged foods and sustainable fish we share with over 5,000 chefs nationwide are more than simply food, they are storytellers. It’s been our mission for the last 35 years to share these stories of the Pacific Northwest across the Nation one table at a time.
If you would like more information about how you can participate, please call Francois de Melogue at 866.767.2464, or email Francois@FoodsInSeason.com. FoodsInSeason.com/moralmorels/