February 17, 2013 by ebostick1212
Ever since working on an organic farm in Wales for a summer during college, (an experience that was cut short from about of Salmonella and a hospital stay, but that story is for another time), I have been really interested in getting involved with the movement towards cruelty-free agriculture. I’ve seen documentaries upon documentaries about caged chickens, and while it wasn’t enough to make me go vegetarian (read: jamón addiction) I definitely try to be concious about how my food was raised.
The good news is that Spain is well known for having sustainable and cruelty-free farms that dot across the country. In fact, that delicious, ham that I never shut up about, is an example. Jamón Iberico de Bellota is one of the nation’s most prized products, and you can be assured those pigs led a good life. They get to run around the fields, fattening up on all the acorns they can find. They live happy lives up until the great chop.
That was the extent of my knowledge on sustainable agriculture in Spain until about a few weeks ago when I was lazily browsing through TED, trying to find an interesting talk to listen to.
I found Dan Barber (the chef of Blue Hill, and a speaker on sustainable agriculture) discussing his trips to Spain:
It turns out, one of the world’s most sustainable fish farms, Veta La Palma, is located right here in the province of Sevilla! It is the first of its kind, it doesn’t cause pollution and it is complete innovation. Plus, it incorporates the local wildlife. Birds and other animals come to the farm to feed, and often deplete the farm’s stock by a large percentage…it remains not only a sustainable ecosphere, but also a sustainable business. Score one to the Spain team!
Incidentally, this video led me to another one of Dan Barber’s talks, that a man in Extremadura has a solution to the ethical dilemma of foie gras. Foie gras is delicious, and versatile, but has been banned, most notably in California, where the process of force feeding the geese is deemed cruel. The farmer at this patería, Eduardo Sousa, has devoted his life to raising geese in a natural way. Then he slaughters them after they go on their pre-winter binge. This offers up a delicious, fatty liver, no force feeding involved. Ethical liver=Yum!
I knew that cruelty-free farms existed in Spain, but I had no idea that the Spanish were on the forefront in utilizing new technology, and old tradition, to guarantee happy lives for their animals.
I would love to get out to these places, and see the way they work. I have family in the international fish farming industry (glamourous, I know) and I need to see if I can pull some strings and get myself down there. If I have time at the end of the year, I will most definitely go and see for myself.