When people think of Spain they think of things like tapas and sangria. Much like it is in America, tourists may not think about where the Iberian ham in their tapas came from, or the pride and care put into growing the fruits and vegetables that are in their meals. Through the Spain Food Production and the Environment maymester, I was able to see exactly where some of the famous meals and foods, such as Iberian ham and olive oil were produced.
While visiting the swine farm, it became very clear how much care these farmers put into raising their pigs for the Spanish consumers. Unlike the large factory farms in the U.S., most farms are small and have been owned by the same family for generations. Two brothers ran the farm we visited, with one dealing with the business side, while the other worked with the pigs. One of my favorite things I learned was that these pigs ate acorns as one of their main sources of food! The farm would rotate from an organic feed to acorns when they had finally fallen from the trees in the pasture during the season. This not only gives the pork its unique flavor, but is also helps to rotate use of the land, ensuring that the pastures are taken care of for many years of farming to come. These pigs were also raised outside and looked happy and comfortable with farmers and 20 UGA students walking in their midst.
Another cool place we visited was an olive oil farm in Spain! We got to see every step of the production process from growing the olive trees, to the extraction and bottling right inside the farm’s very own production plant. Unlike the U.S. where animals and produce often must be transported for production, this was not the case on this farm. With their own plant on site, the owner, Jose, could ensure that his olives were processed within hours. With such a short time period between harvesting and creating the final product, this helped to ensure that extra virgin olive oil was produced. After a tasting of some of their different olive oils, you better believe I brought home my very own bottle.