As the owner of Luna Fargo, a locally-owned farm restaurant that actively supports our small local farmers and our foragers, I was pretty taken aback when one of our vendors came to us this week to say that the Department of Health is proposing a change the their Cottage Food Product list (Chapter 33-33-10-02) that would add “wild harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms” to their definition of banned food products for sale.

If you have ever been to Luna, you know that some of our favorite and often used ingredients — especially at this time of year — are wild mushrooms that we purchase from a variety of seasoned foragers who make their living off of this highly-coveted and often hard-to-find food product.

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As a chef in Fargo for over 15 years, my business partner, Ryan Nitschke, has been using these delicacies in his dishes without every have any sort of issues for as long as he has been cooking. Obviously if we were to experiment with some unknown variety we would be putting not only our customers but also our business at risk, so the implication that a chef would ever jeopardize that by not being well versed in wild mushroom safety seems a little insulting.

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As a growing city who is actively encouraging and attempting to woo young people to move here and thrive, a unique and diverse restaurant culture is an important part of that equation. To regulate items such as this deters young chefs from wanting to open restaurants in our area, and this is a big problem.

Please note that public comments will only be accepted through Saturday, Oct. 12. Please contact the following people and ask them to take wild mushrooms off of this list of banned food items.

Julie Wagendorf at jwagendorf@nd.gov

Grant Larson at glarson@cityoffargo.com

Let our chefs be chefs!