Truffle mania

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012

BY SUSAN G. HAUSER

0412_TruffleMania_01
Above: Eric Lyon of Portland and Leroy, a black lab trained to sniff out underground truffles, make up one of just three commercial truffle hunting teams in Oregon.
Below: Lyon holds the day's find: Oregon black truffles that he'll sell for hundreds of dollars.
// Photos by Leah Nash
0412_TruffleMania_02

They look unappetizing. Truffles, the underground cousins to mushrooms, are knobby and lumpish, looking like a cross between a small potato and a battered old golf ball.

But the funky, earthy odor emanating from a culinary truffle goes straight to the brain, then to the stomach, leaving both organs in a state of bliss. Is it any wonder that these fungi have been praised through the ages and modern gourmands have paid upwards of $1,000 a pound for them? Usually shaved in thin wafers over eggs or pasta or used to impart flavor to butter, cheese or meat, truffles release a heady chorus of volatile oils that elevate food from good to gourmet.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has the good fortune to be one of the few places in the world where native truffles grow in abundance. On top of that, a new industry of cultivated truffles, grown from trees whose roots have been inoculated with the spores of the highly valued Perigord truffles, is taking off in Oregon as well as in several other states.

And according to a 2009 feasibility study by Dr. Charles Lefevre, Oregon Culinary Truffles: An Emergent Industry for Forestry, Agriculture and Culinary Tourism, a local industry based on native and cultivated truffles could exceed $200 million a year in direct sales. That figure jumps to more than $1.5 billion by including secondary economic benefits. The study goes on to say that “if Oregon pursues truffle production with similar passion and focus” as for Oregon wines, the value of the truffle industry could very well exceed that of the lucrative wine industry, currently valued at $2.7 billion.

 



 

Comments   

 
Michael Vaughn
0 #1 Oregon Truffles Unsustainable, for NowMichael Vaughn 2012-04-09 22:59:50
I found this to be an excellent article on Oregon’s “emerging” truffle industry. However, as a recreational truffle harvester for the past seven seasons, I have seen first-hand the damage done to private and public property by unscrupulous people. This article, as well as Lefevre’s coauthored feasibility report, downplays this scourge on the industry.

Most of this damage comes from commercial harvesters not harvesting in ethical ways. Meth-heads and commercial crews are there for one thing: to harvest as many truffles as they can, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least effort. Money is all that matters; to hell with ethics and the environment – as well as quality truffles.

NATS, the Oregon Truffle Festival organization, the State of Oregon, chefs, and consumers share the blame for this atrocious act. As it stands right now, the Oregon truffle industry is unsustainable, and those wanting to promote (i.e. make money) this industry ignore this fact.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Eco Zoned

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY HANNAH WALLACE

Travelers have always come to Oregon for its natural beauty. But will the increasing popularity of agritourism, European-style hiking getaways and forest resorts relax Oregon's notoriously strict land-use laws?


Read more...

5 questions for Flywheel CEO Rakesh Mathur

The Latest
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
FW splashBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland is awash in rideshare options. We ask the head of Flywheel what sets his app apart.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

3 trends in the garden business

The Latest
Thursday, April 30, 2015
gardenthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Oregonians are scrambling to get their gardens in order for the summer. Here are three tips from landscaping and urban farming expert.


Read more...

Celestial Eats

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER AND EILEEN GARVIN

A power lunch at Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces announced

News
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-1000pxwBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

More than 250 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS