When it comes to truffles, only Oregon matters.
This year, Oregon became the only place in the world to sell both homegrown versions of Old World truffles alongside its own native truffle, when farmer Pat Long sold his first crop of cultivated French black truffles, which he'd planted on his nearby hazelnut trees.
"It's unique on the planet," says mycologist and Oregon Truffle Festival organizer Charles Lefevre. "There is no other place where there are both native species and cultivated European species."
Like the French truffles, Oregon's native truffles are so prized by chefs and chocolatiers alike they can fetch up to $800 a pound. This month is the apex of the season, with both black and white truffles in abundance.
Oregon and the surrounding Pacific Northwest are the only places truffles grow in America—and account for up to one-third of the truffles we eat nationwide, even when you factor in French and Italian imports. While you aren't likely to find them inside Portland, forests throughout the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge are thick with the valuable mushrooms growing on tree roots—anywhere Douglas firs are found.
And the crop is poised to grow.
Lefevre, an advocate for the local truffle, conducted a feasibility study in 2009 showing that the high-dollar truffle industry could one day be as big as the local wine industry. It's already worth between $1 million and $5 million, depending on how you measure it.
"There effectively isn't a truffle-harvesting industry anywhere else in the United States," Lefevre says. "Oregon owns the brand. Oregon truffles do live in Washington and California, but they are called Oregon white truffles. The Latin name is Tuber oregonense."
Welcome to Reasons to Love Portland 2017
1. Portland Is Telling Donald Trump That He Won't Get Away With This
2. We're Rich! Portland Has The Nation's Fastest Growing GDP
3. Here's How Far Portlanders Have Ridden in the First Six Months of BikeTown
4. We're Very Happy That Portland Bartenders Can Finally Drink on The Job.
5. When the Snow Hit, Portlanders Saved Lives By Volunteering at Homeless Shelters
6. At Long Last, Portland Has The Kinky Coffee Shop It's Needed
7. A Selected List of All Portland's Recent Number 1 Rankings
8. Move Over PCT: You'll Soon Be Able to Mountain Bike From Washington to California
9. Oregon Has The Nation's Cheapest Weed. Thank God.
10. This is the Best Ski Season Mount Hood Has Had Since Obama Was a Senator
11. Nobody Snowdays Harder Than Portland
12. Portland Finally Has Architecture Worth Arguing About
13. Check Out This Crazy New Recording Studio in a Former Library in Deep Southeast
14. Weed Delivery Will Begin in Portland Any Day Now
15. In Portland, You Never, Ever Need To Call Domino's
16. Portland Is Home to the Most Liberal College in America. No, Not That One.
17. There's A Forgotten Wonder In Oregon City. It'll Soon Be Revealed
18. Portland's Blazers Bootleg T-Shirts Are Lit
19. Portland is Metal AF
20. ILOVEMAKONNEN Moved To Portland. No, For Real
21. Sorry, Donald, We Won't Help You Deport Our Neighbors.
22. Portland Now Has a Patriarchy-Free Social Club and Workspace
23. Oregon is the New Truffle King of the World
24. Check Out These Photos of the Winter Light Festival
25. In Portland, You Can See Every Movie Nominated For an Oscar in the Theater
26. Portland Art Museum is Tapping into the Legacy of Arguably Oregon's Greatest Artist
27. Yes, Portland Has More Pinball Machines Than New York and Los Angeles
28. Portland Has Vegan Everything. A Selected List.
29. In Portland, Dive Bars Never Really Die