A sustainable farm does not need animals, it needs sustainable animals. Sustainable farm animals are the ones that are indigenous, very well adapted in the climate, can be fed by the farm and also give back to the farm and the farmer. In Eumelia sustainability is the alpha and the omega. Self-sufficiency and regeneration are our basic principles. Thus, when it comes to the animals, a local breed is the only choice!
The indigenous Greek black pig traces back to ancient Greece in 5500 BC and is probably the first domesticated big in Europe. In Homer’s Ulysses, we meet Evmeos, the pig breeder that was taking care of Ulysses black pigs. The same breed was also bred in Macedonia in 334 BC when Alexander the Great created probably the biggest slaughterhouse of the ancient times in order to feed his 50,000 soldiers before their expedition towards the East.
The black pig moved to South Italy through the ancient Greek colonies and Italians can still enjoy the exceptional Nero di Nebrodi from Sicily. The Spanish Patta Negra and the Corsica’s Porcu Neru are also ancestors of the Greek black pig and make some of the most delicious charcuteries.
Until the 60s the Greek black pig was the most common in the Greek pig farms. The breed was about to extinct due to the abandonment of small villages and stockbreeding but also due to the appearance of more productive breeds that came from Denmark, Belgium, the UK and the USA. Those breeds dominate until now in pig breeding in Greece.
Luckily, in recent years, some romantic breeders started reproducing and propagating the autocthonous black pig like Fotiadis Farm in North Greece. Universities and research centers made also significant work in the DNA of the pig and the quality of the meat giving some very interesting results.
The Greek black pig has long hair and long feet and as all the pigs, they eat everything. It gives birth twice per year and gives up to 7 piglets, while the conventional ones can give up to 14. The conventional ones are utilized at their 5th month and weight of 100-120 kg while the black pig at the age of 11 months with a weight of 70-90 kg. The black pig breeding is semi-extensive: until the 4th month is confined and then left free, foraging roots and acorns. They are very well adapted in the Greek climate and environment so they can feed themselves easily and also they are very tolerant to illnesses, so it is totally unnecessary to provide any medicines.
Greek black pig’s meat is redder and fattier. This extra fat was also one reason why the consumers opted to less fatty pig breeds. Actually it has hypodermic fat but also low intramuscular fat which makes it very tasty. However, in a recent research, professor Amvrosiadis of the University of Thessaloniki, compared the fatty black pig meat with the precious code beef. He found out that its fat consists up to 50% monounsaturated fat, such as the alpha-Linolenic acid, which is one of two essential fatty acids, because they are necessary for health and cannot be produced within the human body. The meat is also very rich in iron, proteins and trace elements and minerals very beneficial for the human body.
The black pig however, behaves naughty in the kitchen. It needs some TLC. Its meat behaves similar with the wild boar meat and thus, it needs some marination from the night before. Archaeologists have found recipes from ancient times with black pig like the “rodountia” which is a black pig pate with pomegranate, “boubari”, black broth.