One of the most  popular new food trends  in the United States involves one of the oldest food preparations. Beef jerky, made by dehydrating seasoned meat, is prepared today in a similar way to how our cave-dwelling ancestors preserved food thousands of years ago. The curing process takes out the moisture and fat that cause food to spoil quickly, while concentrating the meat flavor.


The qualities that made jerky desirable to the cave men still apply today--it's tasty, long-lasting, lean and portable. However, today's beef jerky is not that same shoe leather that your Uncle Bob brought on camping and fishing trips a generation ago. Today's jerky is tender, flavorful and made with a variety of exotic meats, from bison to venison to ostrich, as well as traditional beef.


Benefits of eating beef jerky

There are a number of good reasons to choose jerky over salty and sugary snack items. Jerky is lean, low-fat, low in calories and high in protein. The protein gives you long-lasting energy without the empty calories of chips or candy bars. Jerky also has a generous amount of zinc and iron, minerals that help to boost your immune response and energy level. Of course, jerky is also easy to carry, wherever you're headed, and stays fresh without refrigeration. Jerky even accompanies U.S. astronauts into space.


What to look for in beef jerky

Choosing the beef jerky that's right for you is really a matter of personal preference. Ask 10 people to name their favorite type of jerky and you're likely to get 10 different answers. It's a good idea to look for jerky that has a lower amount of sodium. (Sodium is a necessary part of the jerky curing process, so you can't eliminate it altogether.) Other desirable qualities include a minimum of flavoring (so you can fully taste the meat) and beef that has been grass rather than grain fed (as grain carries potential GMO issues.)


Jerky makes a great gift for a sportsman, a hungry teenager or a frequent traveler. You can tuck a package of jerky into a gift basket with other snacks or opt to give a variety of different kinds and flavors of jerky. There's even a jerky-of-the-month club.


To learn more about beef jerky and/or to order a supply for yourself or as a gift, visit Crockett We've been creating home-style Tennessee jerky since 1994.