Truffle mania

Truffle mania

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Czarnecki sells Oregon Truffle Oil at his website, OregonTruffleOil.com.
// Photo by Leah Nash

Scott says it was Czarnecki who gave her and Lefevre the idea of putting on a truffle festival. They were having dinner with friends at the Joel Palmer House and eating dishes that featured Oregon truffles, of course. “Jack said truffles were a regional phenomenon that could make this a culinary destination. He said, ‘This part of the Willamette Valley could be the next Tuscany or Provence.’”

Still, says Lefevre, in spite of the fact that the wholesale price of Oregon native truffles has doubled since he and Scott founded their festival, it’s hard to measure the industry, and because most truffle hunters are fiercely independent, organizing them would be akin to herding cats. The best way to gauge the growing strength of the industry, he says, is by seeing how the lure of truffles affects the state’s economy as a whole.

The value of the Oregon truffle industry is spread widely, he says, from harvesters and buyers in rural communities where truffles grow in natural forests, to farmers who will produce truffles in orchards, to restaurants and to hotels where truffle tourists stay.

“I don’t see a down-side to promoting them,” says Lefevre. “We predict that the up-side could eventually be on par with the scale of our current wine industry.”

Susan G. Hauser is a Portland journalist. Reach her at editor(at)oregonbusiness.com.



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.
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