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Why real truffles are so expensive

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  • Truffles are one of the most expensive foods on the planet. 
  • The most prized varieties could cost you over $4000 per kilo.
  • The English Truffle Company finds autumn truffles across the South of England, alongside truffle hunting experiences and truffle dog training.

The luxury cousins of the mushroom, truffles are an indulgent food enjoyed across the world. But these fragrant fungi will cost you.

In 2014, the world’s largest white truffle was flown to New York, accompanied by a security guard, and sold at auction for $61,000. Discovered in Italy, this gigantic fungus weighed almost 2 kilos.

So what is it that makes them so expensive?

There are a lot of types of truffles. There at least 40 species, many of which aren’t edible — and new species have been discovered as recently as 2018.

You’ve probably seen luxury truffle products in supermarkets or fancy restaurants. But the unique truffle flavour you recognise might not be real truffle at all. Cheap truffle oil often hasn’t been anywhere near a real truffle.

Many cheaper truffle products use 2,4-dithiapentane, a synthesized compound containing one of the main aromatic compounds in foot odor — guaranteed to give it that that “earthy” taste.  

Real truffles are seasonal and pricey, with a short shelf life. They were originally sniffed out using truffle pigs, but these days dogs are much more common truffle-hunting companions. These fungi can be found across the world, but they all require a very specific climate to grow. While different varieties may have somewhat different requirements, one thing is certain: You can’t have truffles without trees.

Even when you have exactly the right conditions, truffles aren’t guaranteed. And hunting them is a labour-intensive process. Once you know where to look, you have to sniff out and dig up each truffle by hand, and they can be tricky to find. It may take a while, but finding a good one can make it worth the work, a 80g truffle can be worth over $100.

Truffles also have a short season, often appearing for only a few months of the year. And even when you do get your hands on them, they have a very short shelf life. After just five days, the pungent truffle smell will have halved.

You can farm many truffle varieties, besides the rare Italian whites. Many people have been successful in setting up truffle orchards, but it’s not easy. Trees need to be planted in the right soil conditions, inoculated with truffle fungus, and often irrigated constantly. It can take as long as six years before you get a good truffle harvest, and there’s no guarantee that the fungi will grow at all.

These days, farming has taken over as our primary source of truffles — and today, 70% of the world’s truffles are cultivated.

Through the loss of woodland and climate change, the number of wild truffles has decreased significantly. Since the 19th century, production in France has fallen from over 1,000 tonnes a season to just 30 tonnes. And climate change could mean that truffles will disappear altogether in the future.

 



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VIDEO: James Harden Euro step not a travel — here’s why

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James Harden is often criticized for his signature step-back three that many NBA fans argue should be called a travel.

But most recently, it was a Euro step that had fans tripped up.

During his 38-point performance against the Utah Jazz Saturday night, the eight-time All-Star Euro-stepped his way past two defenders en route to an easy two points. Twitter immediately erupted into a flurry of posts calling for Harden to get whistled for a travel on the play, but the layup stood regardless — as it should have.

 

Though it appeared to many viewers — including the Jazz announcers on the game’s broadcast — that the league’s leading scorer had taken three steps after picking up the ball, the NBA rule book suggests that Harden’s move was completely legal.

Like his signature step-back, the permissibility of Harden’s Euro step hinges on a “gather” step. For a player dribbling the ball, the gather, according to the league’s rules, is “defined as the point where a player does any one of the following:

“1. Puts two hands on the ball, or otherwise permits the ball to come to rest, while he is in control of it;

  2. Puts a hand under the ball and brings it to a pause; or

  3. Otherwise gains enough control of the ball to hold it, change hands, pass, shoot, or cradle it against his body.”

Further, the NBA rule book specifies how the gather relates to the league’s traveling rules.

“A player who gathers the ball while dribbling may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing, or shooting the ball. The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after the player gathers the ball.”

For all intents and purposes, after is the key word here.

When applied to the Harden Euro step in question, the NBA rules on gathering appear to indicate that the referees were correct in not issuing a traveling call. Though it’s admittedly a close call in real-time, Harden’s left foot is clearly down before he begins to pick up, or gather, his dribble.

Screen_Shot_2020 02 24_at_12_24_48_PM

His foot is completely down before gathering the ball.

ESPNNBA/Twitter


Technically speaking, Harden could have legally continued dribbling at this point, so the step shown above doesn’t count towards his two-step allocation after gathering the ball. Fans and the Jazz announcers mistakenly labeled the planted left foot as Harden’s first step even though it came before he gathered the ball.

Harden fully picks up his dribble just before planting his right foot as his first official step. He then returns to his left foot and elevates for the layup, thereby limiting himself to just two steps and staying within the bounds of the league rules.

The Rockets left Salt Lake City with the 120-110 win thanks in large part to a combined 72 points from Harden and Russell Westbrook. They travel to New York to take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden Monday night.





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10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Here’s what you need to know before the markets open.

1. Global stocks tank as investors brace for a coronavirus pandemic. The flu-like illness has now claimed lives in Iran, Italy, and South Korea.

2. Warren Buffett is cheering the current selloff, saying investors ‘should want the stock market to go down.’ “That’s good for us actually, we’re a net buyer of stocks over time,” the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO said in a CNBC interview on Monday.

3. Here are the biggest takeaways from Warren Buffett’s annual letter. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO discussed accounting rules, stock buybacks, boards of directors, acquisitions, succession plans, and market performance.

4. US sees no material impact from virus on US-China trade deal for now. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Reuters he does not expect the coronavirus outbreak to have a material impact on the first phase of the two nations’ trade deal, although he warned that could change as more data becomes available in coming weeks.

5. Goldman Sachs pleads not guilty in Malaysia over 1MDB bond sales. Three units of the banking titan pleaded not guilty to charges of misleading investors regarding $6.5 billion in bond sales that Goldman helped raise for state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Bernama state news agency reported on Monday.

6. Primark owner warns coronavirus threatens clothing supplies. Associated British Foods said there was a risk of supply shortages on some lines later this financial year if delays in factory production in China are prolonged due to coronavirus.

7. PepsiCo buys Chinese snack brand Be & Cheery for $705 million. “Be & Cheery adds direct-to-consumer capability, positioning us to capitalize on continued growth in e-commerce, and a local brand that is able to stretch across a broad portfolio of products, through both online and offline channels,” a PepsiCo executive said.

8. Stocks are tanking. European equities dropped with Germany’s DAX down 3.4%, Britain’s FTSE 100 down 3%, Italy’s FTSE MIB down 4.5%, and the Euro Stoxx 50 down 3.4%. Asian indexes closed lower with China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 1.8%, and South Korea’s KOSPI down 3.7%.
US stocks are poised to open lower. Futures underlying the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were down 2.4%, while Nasdaq futures slid 2.6%.

9. Some big earnings are coming out. HP, Intuit, and Palo Alto Networks are among the highlights.

10. There’s some key data on the docket. Look out for national activity and manufacturing figures.





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Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses: live updated results, vote counts

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  • Sanders wins the Nevada caucus with 87% of the results reporting as of 7 p.m. Pacific Time and 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, February 23. 
  • The Vermont senator has now officially won the popular vote in the first three primary contests of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. 
  • Results have been released slowly by the Nevada Democratic party to avoid a similar situation from Iowa.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Nevada’s caution in reporting results meant that only about 60% of results were announced the day of the caucus, leaving Democrats waiting for the final outcome and complete delegate reckoning.

Sanders holds a decisive lead over his opponents with 87% of precincts reporting — to see how his performance is translating to delegates, follow along with our live delegate tracker here. 

Nevada Democratic caucus live results 

Here are the returns from the final ballot results:

 

Here are the results from the first ballot, or alignment:

 

The third — and most important — set of results are the county convention delegate equivalents, which will be converted into national pledged delegates.

 

These will update live over the course of the day as we get new results. 

Here’s how Democrats will elect their presidential nominee over the next several months

Catch up on live coverage from the caucuses: 

Caucus coverage:

Pre-caucus:

What’s at stake in the Nevada caucuses: 

Nevada only accounts for 36, or 0.9% of the delegates allocated throughout the nomination process, but holds disproportionate importance by virtue of being the first state with a significant non-white population to express its voting preferences. 

Sanders has won nine and former Vice President Joe Biden has won two out of Nevada’s 36 pledged delegates so far with 23% of the precinct caucus results reporting as of 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

The first two states in the process, Iowa and New Hampshire, are both over 93% white. In Nevada, however, just 49% of the population is non-Hispanic white, compared to 29% that is Hispanic or Latino of any race, 10% that is African-American, and 9% that is Asian. 

Of Nevada’s 36 national pledged delegates:

  • 23 are allocated proportionally between the state’s four congressional districts. The first district gets five delegates, and the three others are allocated six delegates each. 
  • 8 at-large and 5 PLEO (party leader and elected official) delegates will be decided and allocated based on the statewide popular vote. 

nv delegates by cd



Ruobing Su/Business Insider


Like in most other states, candidates must break 15% of the vote in a given district or voting area to win any delegates at all. 

Unlike a regular primary, Nevada is a caucus, meaning that people will gather in communal locations to express their preferences for president. The caucuses have two rounds of preference expression, or alignments, meaning caucusgoers have an opportunity to shift their support. 

Caucusgoers whose first-choice candidate does not meet the 15% viability threshold in the first alignment can either switch their support to a candidate who is viable, try to make their chosen candidate viable on the second round, or be uncommitted, meaning the final results could be unpredictable. 

DELEGATE COUNT: Here’s who’s winning the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination

The results of Saturday’s Democratic primary are likely to be particularly crucial for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom are hoping for a strong comeback after their fourth- and fifth-place finishes in New Hampshire.

Who does the polling say is ahead?

The state of Nevada and its presidential caucuses, in particular, are notoriously difficult and expensive to accurately poll.

As Vox recently reported, a higher-than-average proportion of the electorate in Nevada works in the casino and nightlife industry, meaning that their population has higher turnover and is more fluid than in most states, giving pollsters a small base of registered or likely voters to work with.

And many of those with jobs on the Vegas Strip or in other nightlife or hospitality-related careers work night shifts or outside the bounds of a typical nine-to-five schedule, making them much harder to reach by telephone. 

On top of that, Nevada only started using presidential caucuses instead of primaries in 2008, meaning that pollsters have somewhat limited data with which to build accurate models and weights for their caucus surveys, a problem compounded by the fluctuating population in Nevada.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregated tracker of Nevada polls, Sanders currently holds a comfortable lead, polling at 30% on average with the other candidates mostly far behind. On the day of the caucuses, Buttigieg is at 15.3%, Biden is at 14.4%, Warren is at 12%, Steyer at 10.2%, and Klobuchar is at 9%.

But the additional unpredictability of caucus turnout, the ranked-choice system used in early voting, and the re-alignment process in the caucuses themselves mean that the final result could be quite different from what initial polls indicate. 

While Nevada was once a battleground state, it’s been swinging into solid Democratic territory for the past several election cycles. Former Democratic nominees President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton comfortably carried the state in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 general elections, and five out the state’s six congressional representatives are now Democrats. 

In 2016, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses with 52.6% of the vote compared to 47.3% for Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Read more:

Bernie Sanders suggests Russia might be behind the ‘ugly’ online attacks from ‘Bernie Bros’

US officials told Bernie Sanders Russia is trying to help him win the Democratic nomination

Watch the top 5 moments of Nevada’s combative Democratic debate

Here’s who will be onstage for the February 25 Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina and how to watch it



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