Minnesota Instagram #influencer's book recalled... because it could poison you

A photo from a simpler time, before the Fox Meets Bear blogger got called out for cooking with toxic ingredients.

A photo from a simpler time, before the Fox Meets Bear blogger got called out for cooking with toxic ingredients. Instagram: foxmeetsbear

Johnna Holmgren is a Minnesota-based Instagram influencer and the blogger behind Fox Meets Bear.

She's very into "botanical medicine" and writes posts about giving birth in the woods. She lives with her chalk artist husband and their daughters (Luella, Minoux, and Juniper) and their cats and dogs and ducks and chickens.

It’s all very twee. I’m sure their home’s been considered for the cover of Kinfolk and that they sit on a modest floral crown fortune. This is the shit Father John Misty is singing about.

Holmgren’s idealized Little House lifestyle led to online fame and eventually helped her land a book deal. Which is fine. Holmgren's Tales from a Forager’s Kitchen: The Ultimate Field Guide to Evoke Curiosity and Wonderment with More Than 80 Recipes and Foraging Tips hit shelves earlier this year. And amazingly, she had more to say than would fit in that subtitle—upon its release, Holmgren and her forest-find-decorated home were featured in publications like the Star Tribune

Here’s the problem: Forager's Kitchen also includes recipes that use raw morel mushrooms. There’s a smoothie in there made with raw elderberries.

Both of which are toxic if served uncooked. 


After concerned readers pointed out as much in Amazon reviews, Holmgren told Buzzfeed News the book is meant for "adventurous eaters." Its publisher—which presumably preferred not to be responsible for a mass mushroom poisoning—didn't quite see it the same way, and the book was recalled last week.

“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 company said in a statement.

They're no longer publishing or promoting the book, and it’s been all but scrubbed from the internet, though its indexed pages do linger on Google Books, if you're curious. (If nothing else, the whole ordeal certainly makes recipes like "Secretly Sedate Your Kids—A Fairy-Like Trail Mix" seem more ominous.)

Holmgren has taken heat before for presenting a curated version of her kids' lives—some said using them as aesthetic props—to Fox Meets Bear's 100,000-plus Instagram followers. She later posted that she was reevaluating her social media use to better respect their privacy.

She's taken to Instagram this time, too, issuing a vague, sort-of apology in a Wednesday post in which she says she's "devastated by the quick collapse" of the book, adding: "I cannot share the entirety of the story or my personal relationship with these ingredients and I know full well that these words still won’t be enough for many of you."

"When the girls get older, I want to sit down and tell them the true story," she adds. "Not what’s being printed in the news and not the hateful comments by strangers. I am taking a deep breath and releasing this project into the universe and choosing to continue to deepen my connection with others and the world around me."

You can still find plenty of Holmgren’s posts on her blog, if you’re looking for pumpkin spice cinnamon roll recipes or parenting advice

Just take it with a grain of salt—and without a single raw elderberry. And consider Holmgren’s own disclaimer, available on her site (emphasis ours):

“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. 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.”