Jerky: No Longer a Tough Sell

To­day’s ex­otic jerkies are a far cry from the fla­vor­less meat strips of yes­ter­year.

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY NEIL ZEVNIK

Truck stops on Route 66. mom- and- pop mar­kets in ru­ral towns. Food marts at gas sta­tions. Some 30 years ago, that’s where you’d be most likely to stum­ble across pack­ages of beef jerky. These tough, bland, salty strips of mys­tery meat were more or less your only op­tion.

Boy, how times have changed. There has been a ver­i­ta­ble ex­plo­sion of jerky in the mar­ket­place, partly thanks to the pop­u­lar­ity of Pa­leo, keto, and sim­i­lar di­ets. Pro­tein is the belle of the ball these days, even in snack and en­ergy foods. And jerky has be­come a highly praised al­ter­na­tive to other lesshealthy snacks. We’re not talk­ing just beef and pork; to­day’s jerky al­ter­na­tives range from chicken to turkey to fa­mil­iar game meats in­clud­ing bi­son, veni­son, and elk. And for the more ad­ven­tur­ous, wild boar, kan­ga­roo, and al­li­ga­tor jerkies are also avail­able. Even fi sh pro­tein is now in­cluded, with salmon, ahi tuna, and trout get­ting the jerky treat­ment.

What to Look for in Jerky

When look­ing for the best jerky, you’ll want to check out a few key de­tails— the ori­gins of the pro­tein source, other in­gre­di­ents in the prod­uct, and the com­pany’s phi­los­o­phy. For ex­am­ple, Coun­try Archer uses only 100% grass- fed beef with no added preser­va­tives, no ni­trates, no MSG, and no an­tibi­otics or hor­mones. Epic uses only pas­ture- raised an­i­mals, and sup­ports or­ga­ni­za­tions de­voted to im­prov­ing an­i­mal wel­fare stan­dards such as The Cer­tifi ed Hu­mane Project.

What about taste? If you haven’t had jerky since the ’ 70s, you’re prob­a­bly like I was— not all that fond of shoe leather in a plas­tic pack­age. You’re in for a pleas­ant sur­prise! Here’s the list of prod­ucts that turned me into a jerky fa­natic.

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