A new company is investing millions to transform 200 acres of North Carolina tobacco land into the largest black diamond truffle orchard in America. Truffles, a fungi used by gourmet chefs all over the world, are one of the world’s most expensive foods, yielding roughly $40,000 per acre, more than ten times the market value of tobacco.

“Napa is to wine as North Carolina can be to truffles,” says Susan Rice, founder of Black Diamond Truffles, the company that hopes to transform tobacco land into truffle land. “[Truffles] could replace tobacco and single-handedly revitalize our farming industry.”

Pound for pound, truffles are worth more than gold and restaurants will pay up to $800 a pound for quality truffles. Because of its soil and climate, North Carolina is one of the few places in the world that can cultivate the fungi. That there is a market for the new crop is certain. Whether or not the Tarheel State has found an environmentally friendly alternative crop to the socially destructive tobacco, still remains to be seen.

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