The “truth”

Fortean Times - - STRANGE DAYS -

Us­ing pigs to find truf­fles has been il­le­gal in Italy since 1985, be­cause of the dam­age they caused while rootling for the frag­ile del­i­cacy, which led to a near col­lapse of the in­dus­try. It’s cer­tainly true that pigs were com­monly used in the past; their great ad­van­tage is that they don’t need train­ing. Truf­fles have evolved to smell ir­re­sistible (sex­u­ally ir­re­sistible, as it hap­pens) to var­i­ous an­i­mals, in­clud­ing pigs. The great dis­ad­van­tage of pigs as truf­flers is that they can’t be trained: once they get the scent, noth­ing will stop them, and they’re more likely to eat the valu­able fun­gus rather than stand to one side obe­di­ently while you dig it out. Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained to sniff out truf­fles just as they would cannabis or ex­plo­sives, in ex­change for a treat and a kind word. An­other rea­son dogs are now used al­most ex­clu­sively is that hu­man truf­fle-hunters guard their se­cret sites from each other, and walk­ing a dog through the woods is more dis­creet than walk­ing a pig. And, ob­vi­ously, dogs are eas­ier to trans­port around the coun­try­side than big, randy sows.

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