They laughed when someone brought those first grapes from Europe to the West Coast. Wine from California? Who’ll drink it?

Fast forward to today – Spanish pigs have arrived in Texas. Like those Europeans who first planted vines in and around Napa Valley, the importers of Ibericus pigs think what’s happening in Flatonia, Texas, could be the start of something big.

Sergio Marsal, president of Acornseekers, says his company makes premium pork products. The Ibericus pigs are so special, in fact, that back in Spain they’re called olive trees with legs.

“They have the ability to eat acorns,” he says. “Olive oil also has this oleic acid and these acorns also give the meat the same quality as the olive oil itself.”

Flatonia has plenty live oaks, which drop these acorns as feed for the pigs, Marsal says. Christopher Columbus brought eight pigs of the same species along with his expedition in 1493. Then, more than five centuries later, Acornseekers came along.

“We are the second after that,” he says. “We’ve taken advantage of the new collaboration between the united European Union and the United States.”

Marsal says the company started their first production season after the winter, when trees drop their acorns. “We just sacrificed the first 300 pigs,” he says. “We brought 150 and now we have more than 2,000.”

Spanish ham-makers call it “sacrifice” instead of “slaughter” because of the breed’s history, Marsal says.

“For many centuries, in Rome and in Spain, they figure out that those pigs give a very special kind of meat, very tasty, very different,” he says, “so they give special treatment and special management to those pigs.”

Post prepared by Hannah McBride.

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