Deep Breath Millennials, Climate Change is Coming for Your Truffles

The International Alba White Truffle Fair. Image: Black, Platinum, Gold

 

As AP reported, rising global temperatures are worrying truffle hunters around the Italian town of Alba, where the most prized specimens can fetch twice the price of gold. To stave off the longer-term climate change impact on the production of the highly prized white truffle, experts have launched initiatives to better preserve the territory where they grow.

What’s The Deal: Warm fall temperatures have alarmed truffle hunters as more truffles than not have been found to be dried out. This is especially troubling considering that white truffles from the Piedmont region of Italy have sold for twice the price of gold. However, the longer-term impact of rising temperatures on the highly prized white truffles is still being studied, but they, like other fungi, grow best in cool, rainy conditions. Climate change has in effect delayed peak production from October into November.

Not So Fun(gi) Impacts: While a warming planet may increase the production of some Mediterranean mushrooms, for truffles the outlook is more damp (see what we did there?). Severe heat (as well as warming autumn temperatures) may cause some species of truffles to vanish by the end of the century.

What Can Be Done: As AP noted, to stave off the longer-term climate change impact on the production of the highly prized white truffle, experts have launched initiatives to better preserve the territory where they grow. The goal is to safeguard the symbiosis between the truffle and the host plant by encouraging symbiosis between the truffle hunter and the landowner — whose interests often conflict.

Why This Matters: We’ve been writing about biodiversity loss all week and this is another example of its driver (hint: us!). Efforts to preserve and bolster the environment where white truffles are important as unlike the more common black truffle, delicate white truffles cannot so far be cultivated.

Go Deeper: Climate change is threatening another precious Italian commodity: olive oil.

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