Truffles have always been rare and expensive, prized in French cuisine for their earthy yet delicate flavor, whose richness, it is said, cannot be matched by another food. Yet destruction of the forests where the truffles grow (on oak roots), a scarcity of expert hunters, and a general decline in the population of Tuber Melanosporum—the black truffle, by its more mundane name—mean the fungus costs $30 an ounce, twice as much as a decade ago, reports Global Post in a feature on the delicacy.
The high price truffles can fetch and the sense of their growing scarcity has driven some to desperate measures: one farmer has been charged with murder for shotgunning a man he accused of, in the words of Global Post, "truffle rustling." The head of the truffler association sleeps in his fields with a gun, wary of episodes like one in 2005 in which a broker was robbed after leaving the Aups market in Provence with 40 kilos of truffles. “Enjoy 'em while you can,” warns a third-generation truffler. “In 10 years, I wonder if you’ll be able to find black truffles anywhere.” (Read more truffles stories.)