environment Politics: agriculture economics food privilege
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The New York Times reports on the threatened truffle:
PARIS — Just about everything in Eduardo Manzanares’s shop, Truffes Folies, is made with truffles. Sausage, cheese, spaghetti — even popcorn.
But during the year-end holidays, the main order of business is fresh truffles, especially the black or Périgord truffle, Tuber melanosporum. The prized mushrooms are used to stuff Christmas turkeys, chickens or capons, Mr. Manzanares said, making Dec. 24 typically the biggest truffle-eating night of the year in France.
But it is also becoming an increasingly expensive tradition. Black truffles and other types of truffles are becoming scarcer, and some scientists say it is because of the effects of global climate change on the fungus’s Mediterranean habitat. One wholesaler says prices have risen tenfold over the last dozen years.
Poor things. I’ve tasted truffles twice and they were/are wonderful. But not at $1200/pound. Sent December 21:
One of the perquisites of wealth is an added layer of protection from natural disasters. Downed power lines don’t hurt if you’ve got your own generator; cracked and crumbling roads mean nothing if you travel by helicopter; disrupted agriculture’s just a blip on the radar if you’ve got two years’ food supply laid up in a private storage facility.
This insulation has allowed many of the world’s richest individuals to ignore the effects of global climate change — unlike the world’s poorest, who daily live with the consequences of others’ consumption of fossil fuels. It’s only when a luxury item is endangered that the threat suddenly seems real to those who’ve used their power to keep climatic reality outside the gates. How ironic that while forecasts of megadeaths and surging sea levels elicit only yawning dismissals, the prospect of disappearing truffles could finally motivate the planet’s most privileged to action.