The New York Times reports on the problem created by the clash between fine wine and one of the most wonderful things on the planet - the white truffle:
Not only does this land produce some of Italy’s best, and most expensive, wines. It is also home to the famed Italian white truffle, which can run 200 to 500 euros (about $225 to $560) for a good-size knob that will sit in the palm of your hand.The result is that, not only are there fewer places where truffles can grow, but the loss of forest impacts the wine growers and especially those using organic methods. And the truth is that there a plenty of places where fine wines can be made but vanishingly few where "trifola d'Alba Madonna" is found - truffles are altogether too fickle for cultivation.
But what happens when those resources compete? Vines require clear hillsides, and truffles need thick and damp yet clean woods. Today, hillside after hillside of Barolo is planted in neat rows of well-groomed vines more valuable than anything else that could be put on them. The forests, on the other hand, have been shrinking.
The result is 'save the truffle':
Save the Truffle wants to protect what has been to this day one of the most outstanding and internationally recognised products of Piedmont. Its fame has been connected to the city of Alba and the surrounding area, the Langhe and Roero, for more than eighty years.This is in the wonderful and conservative traditional of italian food campaigns - perfected by the Slow Food movement that spread across the world (although sadly has become a shadow of its origins by becoming a locavore lobby rather than a celebration of waiting for dinner and using the finest ingredients).
In an area which has become a world heritage Unesco site, in which the truffle, together with the outstanding red wines, are the driving force for international tourism, Carlo and Edmondo believe that this precious fruit of the territory must be approached from an alternative point of view, without mentioning marketing and sales.
And we can all help - there's a crowdfunding initiative 'Breathe the Truffle' that's helping these people develop and protect the environment in which this magical, exceptional fungus thrives.