"The Truffle Hunters"

Previewing our October documentary selection

The Econ Extra Credit Team Oct 7, 2021
Heard on:

White winter truffles cost between $2,000 and $4,000 per pound

Our October documentary selection, 2020’s “The Truffle Hunters,” follows a group of 70- and 80-year-old men as they scour the forests of Piedmont, Italy, for the coveted — and incredibly scarce — white Alba truffle. Inspectors examine these truffles as if they’re diamonds, poring over their quality and condition. Some weeks, a yield of even two truffles is treated as a bounty.

The competition can be cutthroat; one former hunter complains of plundered forests and slashed tires. The men closely guard the locations they hunt, sneaking out into the night to find the precious commodity. The market is volatile and the pricing is unpredictable. 

Trained dogs are essential for the job. “If you don’t trust your dog, you shouldn’t go truffle hunting,” an 84-year-old hunter advises. In one memorable scene, a truffle hunter celebrates his dog’s birthday with a cake and candle. These dogs aren’t just business partners, they’re family members.

 We hope you’ll explore the wild world of the truffle trade with us. “The Truffle Hunters” is available on several streaming platforms. In our next installment of this Econ Extra Credit newsletter, David Brancaccio offers his take on the documentary. In the meantime, let us know your reaction: extracredit@marketplace.org.

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