During this unique program, I had the opportunity to learn more about the modern and traditional food production practices of Spain as well as experience traditional Spanish dishes. For instance, we visited a Jamivi Iberian Pork farm in Granada, Spain. The farm was family-owned, and the daughter-in-law and one of the brothers gave us a tour. It was evident how much the two cared about their animals and the work they do. The daughter-in-law was American and told us the story of how she and her husband met when she studied abroad during college. I enjoyed hearing about her experience moving to Spain and working with the family business. During the tour, I was amazed to learn that their farm has a negative carbon footprint. They value sustainability and want to improve the environment. I also found the cyclic process of production fascinating: the bees pollinate the trees, the trees provide acorns for the pigs, the fatty part of the ham is fed to the dogs, and the rats are eliminated by the dogs. We got to see where they cure the ham before it is sold. In the cellar, over 100 pig legs hung. I was surprised to learn that the meat is stored for 3-5 years before being sold and eaten. For lunch, the family prepared meat and cheeses for us to try. It was all delicious. Learning about the detailed process has provided me with a greater appreciation for the food I eat.
In Granada, we also got to visit a dairy farm where we were able to see how their milk and cheese are produced. No equipment is used. The farmer spends most of his time cleaning the animals’ space. I admired how much they cared for their animals and enjoyed sharing their knowledge and craft. Again, I was supposed to learn how long the cheeses are sold before being sold: 2- 5 years! The curation room reeked as mold covered the outer layers of the cheeses. This layer is scrubbed at the end. My favorite part was the cheese tasting!