Climate Change and Luxury Fungi

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Eat less meat, save the world. In a (very simplified) nutshell, this is what Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested at the Copenhagen summit last year. Rajendra has publicly shared this idea before–that if the world consumed less animal protein, we could significantly cut down methane emissions. At the summit Pachauri also took stabs at certain energy-consuming luxuries of the privileged, such as having iced drinks when dining out and using free, unlimited heating and air-conditioning when staying in hotels.

So when I came across an article this week in the Otago Daily Times about the truffle industry in New Zealand, it made me think of Dr. Pachuari. I wonder if he is aware of the continued decline of natural truffle stocks in France and Italy reportedly due to climate change, and whether or not as a vegetarian, he himself would indulge in natural declining stocks of a meatless delicacy.

Personally, if the opportunity to ‘truffle’ arises in the near future for me, I’d opt for trying the cultivated sort from the Pacific region. According to the article in the Otago Daily Times, ‘Having a sniff around the Kiwi truffle trade,’ in New Zealand, thanks to these new stocks and growing interest of local gourmands, (commercial varieties were first produced in 1993), the truffle industry continues to go from strength to strength:

‘The appetite for truffles in New Zealand, non-existent 20 years ago, has mushroomed to keep pace with a production that grows yearly. New Zealanders eat all of the truffles produced, and such is demand that prices here at times exceed those paid in Europe.’

I trust that with this much domestic support, there must be something particularly tempting about the New Zealand truffle.

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