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The Chaga

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By Elsie Husom Photo by Joey Halvorson

Lynnel Anderson

Chaga Saga


With a catch in her voice, Lynnel Anderson smiles at her brother Pat Peterson and says, “Mushrooms brought our family closer together.” Pat nods agreement. I’ve read many claims that mushrooms can bring health and vitality to those who partake of them, but to bring a family closer? Pat and his wife Tammy live in Ohio. Lynnel had little contact with them for years. Now, she and her mom, Donna Peterson, have visited Ohio, Pat and Tammy have come here several times, and they all have email and/or phone contact at least three times a week. Chaga mushrooms have been the catalyst. “It all started when I attended a mushroom class at the Arboretum,” Lynnel begins. Intrigued by mushroom benefits presented in the class, Lynnel researched further and decided, “I can do this.” Her first venture involved chugging through her husband’s bow hunting area. Excitement at finding the first chaga dimmed when she realized it was too high to reach — even with a ladder — but later she spotted one easily hacked off to take home and process. The venture began. Getting her family involved came next. Her mother readily took to the idea, and when Pat called on her birthday, she mentioned a chaga expedition. “What’s chaga?” he asked. With her response, he was hooked. His planned fishing trip to Minnesota instead turned into days of tramping through woods searching for black lumps. Growing on about one in 10,000 birch trees, chaga are difficult to find. Lynnel says, “Usually we go deep into woods, craning our necks to see high and wide.” The four of them have spent entire days finding nothing. Now, friends who are converts to chaga


Their Business Is Mushrooming products also search and bring mushrooms recipe for bar soap. “Making lip balm is tricky,” Lynnel says. “We have to work fast to to Lynnel for processing. Tools for gathering chaga are very impor- tube it before it solidifies. Lotion is the most tant. Her toolkit contains a camping hatchet, difficult as timing and measurements have to a scarf to catch chunks, bags, gloves, binocu- be exact.” They all feel the benefits are well worth lars and mace. She laughs, “I added the mace their efforts. Lynnel says, “Mom’s psoriasis is after meeting up with a badger.” Foraging for chaga is an adventure. She much improved and her skin tags have vanrecalls one time in a new area. “Looking up ished. We all feel more fit, with more energy. at trees, I forgot to note where I was going.” Chaga heals from the inside out; it helps to Straying off the path, she became totally reduce the workload of the whole immune disoriented and had no idea how to get back system.” Pat adds, “I haven’t been sick in 2 ½ to her truck. “I didn’t want to have to call my years. It isn’t just their word. Among other husband to tell him I was lost, so I just kept advocates is David Wolfe, author of “Chaga, walking. Luckily, I found a path.” Another time she fell from a ladder and it King of the Medicinal Mushrooms,” who came down, smack on her face. When she got says, “Chaga constitutes perhaps the greatest back up the tree, the black lump wasn’t even medicinal properties of any single mushroom or any herb.” chaga. This family realizes they have more in Bringing the chaga home is only the first step. Processing has been trial and error. common than a good mushroom. They enjoy Lynnel’s research gave conflicting advice. just being together. Together they have She says, “I felt like a schmuck after chop- grown a side business that nurtures their ping off and discarding all the outer “black relationship and brings them “better health stuff” and then reading later that is the best and fitness.” You can contact Lynnel at her Brainerd part.” As chaga mushrooms grow, they draw in salon, Hair It Is, where chaga products are antioxidants from the birch bark, which sold or check the web site: explains why Native Americans successfully used birch bark as a poultice to heal wounds. The chaga break down these antioxidants for human consumption. Soaking the chaga chunks in alcohol extracts the antioxidants ready for use. Elsie Husom Making tincture, now their biggest seller, Elsie is a retired educator was their first success. Lynnel’s family all who lives west of Brainerd. ingest tincture daily. Although they agree it’s She loves to golf, read, travel, play mind-challenging games not great tasting, mixing with fruit juice, coffee or tea hides the flavor. Wanting to and make art. She volunteers at expand, she found recipes for lip balm and the Crow Wing County Jail and for the Crossing Arts Alliance. cream lotion, and her mother perfected a

Spring 2014 | her voice

Spring 2014.indd 46

1/28/14 10:26 AM

Her Voice - Spring 2014  
Her Voice - Spring 2014  

In The February 2014 Spring Issue: • Water World: Growing up in the heart of lake country, Samantha French now lives and works in New York C...