During the Maymester study abroad to Spain, we were able to visit multiple different types of farms throughout the country.
The first farm visit was a private Iberian Pork farm that we stopped at on our way from Madrid to Granada. The farm we visited was run by two brothers, one that oversees the farm aspect and one that oversees the production of food products. During the visit, we got to witness how a sustainable and environmentally friendly farm in Spain works. The pigs at this farm are fed by alternating between an organic feed and acorns. The acorns are produced by using designated bee colonies that are set out to help pollinate the acorn trees. When the acorn falls, it helps to fatten the pig up in order to produce the best quality of Iberian Pork. The pigs and cows at this farm seemed to actually love their owners, and they responded very well when called in for feeding. They also coexisted in the same fields together! After seeing the farm side of things, we went back to the main house, where once the pigs are slaughtered, they end up here for final production. The Iberian Pork that is produced from these pigs is cured in a drying room, where it is then sold for consumption. The drying room can hold over 100 legs of ham at a time! After our tour of the farm and curing room, the owners of this farm served us a delicious lunch that included a tasting of the different cuts of meat that their pigs produce.
The second farm visit was to a dairy cow farm outside of Granada. The tour of this farm allowed us to see the production process of milk, yogurt, and cheese. We got to see the baby calves, the milking process, and the storage of the cheeses. The most interesting thing I learned from this farm was that their cows produce around 30 liters of milk a day. After the tour of the farm, we got to sample cheeses of different ages. The texture of the cheeses ranged from tender to semi-cured to hard, depending on the age of the cheese. The harder the cheese, the more strong the flavor, and the longer it had been aged! I enjoyed getting to taste Spanish cheeses as they were very different in taste from typical American cheese.
The third farm visit was to an olive oil farm outside of Granada, where we got to explore the acres of olive trees, see the production from olive tree to olive oil, and taste the different flavors of the final olive oil product. I was surprised at how easily the byproduct of the olive oil could be composted to use as feed on other farms and in other ways. My favorite part of the tour, besides seeing the stunning views of the countryside, was tasting the different types of olive oil they make. This specific olive oil plant, Quaryat Dillar, makes olive oil ranging in taste from mild to medium to intense. As we tasted the oil, we were instructed to let the flavor sit in our mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. This was supposed to allow us to taste more flavors. Once swallowing, the oil made a stinging sensation in the back of the throat that was stronger depending on the intensity of the oil. I personally liked the medium and intense flavors because they were spicier and stronger in flavor.
The fourth and final farm visit was to a goat farm near Malaga. When we first arrived, we got an introduction to the history and importance of making goat milk and goat cheese. After this we got to taste a few different kinds of goat cheese, which also varied in intensity and flavor depending on the age. After we learned about the process of making goat cheese and goat milk, we got to the best part of the tour, which was playing with the goats, specifically the baby goats! A few of the goats were shy at first, but they quickly warmed up to us, and almost all of them wanted to be held!