Why is it so hard to replicate the ideal conditions are plants like truffle or wasabi? Like I get they can only grow under certain conditions but what about it’s surroundings is so hard to replicate?

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Why is it so hard to replicate the ideal conditions are plants like truffle or wasabi? Like I get they can only grow under certain conditions but what about it’s surroundings is so hard to replicate?

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It’s all about profit margin. To replicate certain conditions reduces the profit to a point where it is not viable and if you flood a market with something that was previously rare it can devalue said item. Therefore rarities often stay that way due to low profitability and potential decreased future profitability if the market is flooded.

I can’t speak about wasabi, but truffles are hard to grow because they actually grow from fungi that germinate alongside trees. These structures don’t form rapidly the same way you might easily be able to farm portobello or shiitake mushrooms. These fungal life cycles are extremely complex and not well understood (it’s a very niche product, and where there isn’t a massive audience to appreciate it, there isn’t a ton of money funneling in to research it), and the conditions under which truffle growth happens can vary widely from place to place, making it hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution to allow for mass production. Replicating this process on a larger scale is very expensive and time-consuming since you constantly have to generate new mycelium structures (which form mushrooms and which in turn form truffles) on new trees and let them grow up together. Truffle farming has only just started to come about in the last decade, but it’s still not done very efficiently.

Wasabi needs very specific conditions to grow, such as shade, near running water and temperature, but in addition to that, it does not keep long without spoiling. So you need a fresh piece of wasabi (preferably grated on shark skin) to serve it.

Very few crops are easy to farm in a variety of environments, and many of those crops are only easy to farm due to millennia of human cultivation selecting for hardiness and adaptability, plus a bonus century of scientific research. There are far far more things that grow only in certain regions or only in small quantities, many of which we don’t care about because they don’t taste or smell particularly good.

Humans have never before had much of a need to grow large quantities of truffle or wasabi. The cuisines that use them only need a little bit, and those cuisines used to be highly regional. It’s only recently that people in North America (for example) wanted ready access to fresh versions of them, and compared to how long it used to take to ramp up production of an agricultural product, we’ve made remarkable progress in just a few decades. There are active wasabi farms in the U.S. and projects to grow truffles that have had intermittent success.

The simple answer us that we don’t know all of the ideal conditions. Soil chemistry and microbes play a huge role in plant and fungus development. Even if we did know all of them they might be hard or expensive to reproduce. Some of those conditions also change through time and the timing is important.