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Truffles don't grow on trees

Truffles don't grow on trees

08 Oct 2013 BY Dominique's Villas

One of the most famous French delicacies, the truffle, could soon be priced beyond most people’s pocket unless the decline in its production can be halted. Village markets in southwest France have seen truffles fetch 800 Euros per kilogram (about £250 per lb) this winter, driven up by the excess of demand over supply. Production is down to about 20 tons annually, compared to more than 1,500 tons in the 19th century.

The tuber melanosporum or ‘black’ Perigord truffle is the prized specimen of underground funghi, sniffed out by dogs and pigs, and found beneath certain varieties of oak tree. Arid summers, building on cultivated land and agricultural chemicals have all contributed to its scarcity.

The French federation of truffle producers, which employs 10,000 workers, mostly part-time, has been campaigning in the European Parliament for a subsidy to plant more ‘truffle’ trees. Most experts consider this initiative doomed to fail, as the European Commission wants fewer agricultural subsidies, not more. The chances are, we will all be eating Chinese imports before long.