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Spain’s prized jamón ibérico under threat from climate crisis | Spain

valued in Spain Iberian ham with acorns is threatened by the climate crisis as rising temperatures and low rainfall endanger a key ingredient in pig diets, acorns.

In a country where there are as many pigs as there are people, there are many varieties of ham, but none of them is more revered than Iberian ham with acornswhich sells for over €100 (£88) per kilo.

It is produced exclusively from black-footed pigs, which must spend the last month of their lives feeding on acorns (acorns) in meadowa type of oak forest characteristic of the west and northwest of Spain.

The problem is that due to the unusually hot and dry summers, the oaks produce fewer acorns. This, plus a drop in the market price, resulted in a 20 percent reduction Iberian ham produced last year in Extremadura, one of four small regions that enjoy official Appellation of origin.

Last year was the hottest on record in Spain and the third driest. Rainfall in Extremadura has decreased by about 35% over the past 50 years.

meadow consists of holm oaks that grow in a humid climate, so it is a relic of the times when the climate here was different from the present,” said Francisco Esparrago, president of Señorio de Montanera, a company that produces high-quality Jamon. “Trees are struggling to survive the long, hot, dry summer we’re having right now.”

Even if this summer isn’t as extreme as 2022, Esparrago isn’t optimistic. “I expect this year, which survived last summer’s drought and winter with little rain, to be the worst year I’ve been working in for 40 years. meadow,” he said.

According to the rules, ham producers are allowed to import acorns from other countries, but Esparrago is not enthusiastic about this idea.

“The main source is Morocco and Algeria, where, of course, they don’t raise pigs, but I’m worried that importing acorns could cause new diseases, as happened when we imported palm trees from Egypt,” he said. The red palm weevil was introduced to Spain via Egypt in 1993 and subsequently destroyed tens of thousands of palm trees.

The best Jamon produced in some of Spain’s poorest regions and is a vital component of their local economy, providing thousands of jobs in areas that are among the “black spots” of unemployment in Europe.

“It’s not just about the pigs,” says Esparrago, who complains about the lack of funding for tree transplants. “If meadow will not survive, there will also be nowhere to graze cattle.

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