The Mexican hairless pig breed, black and with large, pointed ears, has been reared for more than five centuries on the Yucatán Peninsula. The Spanish conquistadors introduced Celtic pigs (Sus celticus) from the European boar family, Iberian pigs (Sus mediterraneus) and Asian pigs (Sus vittatus). These breeds produced a genotype with very valuable characteristics, which over time have adapted well to the local conditions. Because this new breed developed within isolated and primarily rural production systems, its genetic heritage has been preserved to the present day.
For hundreds of years, the Mayans raised these pigs (known locally as t’ooroch k’eek’een, “hairless pig” in the Mayan language), allowing them to graze freely and supplementing their diet with food scraps. These hardy animals are tolerant of the tropical climate, skilled at walking on the peninsula’s rocky terrain, resistant to diseases and able to feed on a wide variety of foods. Farming the hairless pigs has a low environmental impact—they graze outdoors and do not contaminate the groundwater—and traditional Mayan practices respect the precepts of animal welfare.
In the last decades of the 20th century the breed was largely replaced by the faster-growing American pig, and came close to extinction. Since the beginning of the new century, some organizations have developed initiatives for its revival, recreating the conditions for its farming and for the use of its meat in the local diet.
The intensely flavored pork is low in fat and is used in many typical dishes of the Yucatán Peninsula, like cochinita pibil (pork wrapped in plantain leaves and baked in an underground earth oven), pork and beans and poc chuc (marinated and cooked over charcoal). It is also used for the “dance of the pig’s head,” performed once a year to summon rain.
Presidium supported by
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
El Hombre Sobre la Tierra A.C.
In collaboration with
Comida Lenta A.C.
Slow Food Yucatán
The Presidium unites 48 producers from the southeastern part of the state of Yucatán who collaborate with the El Hombre Sobre la Tierra (HST) association. HST is an interdisciplinary group of professionals and promoters who work for the sustainable development of natural resources in Yucatán, diversifying economic activities in rural areas and strengthening socio-cultural identity. In collaboration with HST, the producers raise the hairless pigs, allowing them to graze freely, following the traditions of their ancestors.
The Presidium was started in 2016 as part of the Slow Yucatán project, which promotes a sustainable system of food production and consumption in order to improve the life of indigenous Mayan communities and bring them economic, cultural, social and health benefits. The Presidium’s main aim is to promote access to a more profitable market through the improvement of meat-processing techniques and the support of the local and national Slow Food network.
Various communities in the Tixcacalcupul, Chankom, Tinum, Yaxcabá, Chikindzonot and Tekóm municipalities, Yucatán state
48 producers belonging to the El Hombre Sobre la Tierra association