20111108 whitetruffle
White truffles are displayed at the James Beard Foundation's Annual Holiday Auction and Dinner at Guastavino's on Nov. 8, 2007 in New York City. - 

Jeremy Hobson: It's not just the European debt crisis that's hitting Italy right now. The country also has a bit of a gastronomic catastrophe on its hands. I'm talking about Italy's beloved white truffles -- they're in trouble.

From the Marketplace Sustainability desk,
Adriene Hill has the story.

Adriene Hill: White truffle, the pungent delicacy, pairs well with lots of things: Risotto, eggs -- but not this summers' hot weather.

Vincent Jeanseaume: That usually doesn't go well with truffle. Espeically the white Alba truffle, which tends to like better some sort of colder, cooler weather.

Vincent Jeanseaume is the vice president of importer Sabatino Truffles in New York. He says the harvest is down, and the retail cost is up -- reports range from 20 percent to 100 percent over last year.

It's a lucrative market. And it's got other farmers looking to grow their own truffles in places like Oregon, China and Croatia. Piero Selvaggio owns Valentino restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif.

Piero Selvaggio: As you say, yes you have Oregon truffles and Chinese truffles and Croatian truffles, but they are not the real McCoy.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

Follow Adriene Hill at @adrienehill