Buried Treasure: Crowdfunding Protects White Truffles, Promotes Biodiversity

Less than ideal weather has fans of Italian white truffles willing to bid more than a hundred thousand dollars for the increasingly rare mushroom.

A forest truffle is actually a mushroom, but an unusual one—it grows underground. Obviously, that means they're especially difficult to find since you can't see them…truffles are one of the world's most expensive ingredients…

Friends of the prized fungus say white truffles need cool, wet weather to thrive and can only be found in the wild – in wooded, humid regions. One of those places is Alba, Italy, a little town south of Turin where hunters and their dogs forage public and private lands for the mushroom from autumn through late February. That was until an invasive species of ivy combined with insufficient rainfall stunted the harvest.

Frustrated and concerned about the increasingly shortened season, “white diamond” hunters and like-minded groups got together to start a crowdfunding site to safeguard the natural environment of Alba and the biodiversity of the white truffle.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform YouHelp.com, said crowdfunding can be a trusted solution for conservationists who value biodiversity, but either don’t have the background, time or resources to get involved in projects, that might be thousands of miles away.

The crowdfunding campaign, “Breath the Truffle,” set out to raise awareness about biodiversity and the importance of keeping the existing truffle-growing areas of the forest in Alba clean. Organizers figure if they can’t control the climate, they can at least try to monitor the environment.

Interest in the biodiversity of white truffles is hardly surprising. After a dry, hot summer, the price of white truffles in 2017 more than doubled from the previous year to about $3,000 per pound. Buyers are naturally looking for the best quality, which means truffles that are large, fresh and pungent.

The real truffle is a lattice of sorts or web of threads which runs underground and lives in symbiosis with the plants above the ground. Once picked, the buried treasure makes a quick exit from the roots of the forest to than hands of sellers, who, in the past 25 years, have witnessed a 30 percent reduction in production.

Shelf life for a typical freshly-harvested truffle is a week at most, experts say, and the United States represents the largest market for the mushroom. Many white truffles are transported by express airfare to American soil within 24 hours.

YouHelp recently added a Crowdfunding for Biodiversity category to the 100 + website. According to Thomas Lovejoy, the Godfather of Biodiversity, "Natural species are the library from which genetic engineers can work. Genetic engineers don't make new genes, they rearrange existing ones." when you start a biodiversity crowdfunding campaign, you can get people to support the protection and conservation of our ecosystems and contribute to ecological health projects in plant, marine and wildlife biodiversity.

YouHelp.com, is a free fundraising website that offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to connect their fundraising campaign to the public. The process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, and compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and and the campaign is promoted properly, will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer for UHelp.com