Sunday, December 14, 2008

Truffle farming in Washington state

Business journals are reporting an interesting trend among a couple dozen farmers in Washington state that could generate $35,000 in revenue per acre -- truffles.

Second only to saffron as the most-expensive food item in the world, truffles routinely fetch around $1,000 a pound. The downside, of course, is that truffles take nearly a decade to mature.
Just south of us in Oregon, farmers have been harvesting truffles for years, but it would be a new industry for Washington. One farmer, Jamie Bolles of Bolles Organic Farm in Monroe, told the Pugent Sound Business Journal that he's planning to plant 400 hazelnut trees “inoculated” with truffle spores.on a 2-acre patch of land, after raising the soil pH to 8 with 60 tons of lime. He can probably harvest them himself instead of having to pay laborers.

The farmers also have an interesting leg up on their European competition. Since 1999, the U.S. has charged a 100 percent tariff on truffles imported from Europe. The tariff is punitive, a retaliation against the European Union's prohibition on importing hormone-treated American beef. Other food items subject to the tariff include Roquefort cheese, shallots, foie gras and Dijon mustard. The EU banned U.S. beef citing health concerns with hormone use.
Given the state of my 401k, perhaps starting a truffle farm might ultimately be a better retirement planning option?

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Anonymous Dana McCauley said...

I've tried Washington truffles and, although they are quite good, I've found the Croation truffles that come to market here are superior in flavor. That said, I hope you don't move to Croatia. We like having you here in North America

December 15, 2008 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger George Erdosh said...

I wish I could grow them! They are awesome. I am a serious wild mushroom hunter in Northern CA and this time of the year they are wild. All the good ones: porcini, butter bolete, coccora, and so on. I never tried Washington truffles: send some down to me.

Check out my latest (Nov/08):

Tried and True Recipes from a Caterer’s Kitchen—Secrets of Making Great Foods

December 25, 2008 at 3:51 PM  

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