A symbol of the Sierra
The history of Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche is closely linked to the figure of an animal that has been the driving force of a whole culture and has been the main source of income for the villages and the local inhabitants. The Iberian pig is a hallmark of the region and in villages like Jabugo, Cortegana or Cumbres Mayores their pork products have become a magnificent means of advertisement all over the whole world.
The presence of this animal in the meadowlands has marked a way of life and even the calendar of the men and women here for centuries. Nowadays it is a culinary appeal for the thousands of visitors who enthusiastically come to savour the delicious meats and products in the many restaurants in the area.
In order to value the significance of the Iberian pig in the mountain region, it is essential to talk about the symbiosis with its natural habitat, the meadowlands. The exquisite flavour of the cured legs or shoulders of ham and the different types of cured meats would be impossible to achieve if the animal did not live freely, on farms with lush groves of holm, cork and Portuguese oak trees where it finds its main supply of food; the acorn and the natural pasturelands.
This supply of food and the physical exercise done during the acorn-feeding period, which is generally from November to January, will produce the ideal Iberian pig with the best-tasting cured ham products.
Not only does the animal benefit from its environment. The relation is reciprocal as the pig helps to conserve the meadowlands by clearing the vegetation and fertilizing the soil with its excrements. They both need each other and both contribute to this natural process without which the Mountain region of Aracena and the Aroche Peaks would not function properly. In fact, the Iberian pork industry is the main economic activity in the region.