Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

The art of jerky.(Food)

Byline: Stories by Rick Nathanson * Photographs by Mark Holm Of the Journal

The growing popularity of the meaty snack doesn't seem to be a knee-jerk reaction

Stomach growling? Need a little pick-me-up before dinner? Drop the Doritos, overlook the Oreos, and tear yourself away from the Twinkies.

You want meat! Specifically, you want jerky.

"I keep a bag of it in the car almost all the time," said Linn Furnish, an operating room nurse at Presbyterian Hospital. "I love it and my kids just love it. They eat it as an after-school snack."

Hair stylist David Sanchez has been eating jerky most of his life, but has been eating more of it lately "because I'm on a protein diet," he said. "I'll keep it in the car and eat it instead of grabbing a piece of candy."

Esther Young likes jerky when "I'm sitting watching TV or when I want a snack," she said. "I'm 77 years old and I've been eating and making jerky for 100 years."

Beef is not only "what's for dinner," as the industry advertising campaign goes, it's also what Americans are eating for a snack. According to the Alexandria, Va.-based Snack Food Association, the fastest-growing segment of the snack-food market is the "savory" snacks classification also known by the mouth-watering description as "dry, shelf-stable meat products," said Ann Wilkes, vice president of communications for the association.

Jerky has a long shelf life because it has been salted and dried to remove residual moisture. Bacteria won't grow without moisture.

Consumption of these products grew by 28 1/2 percent over the last year, racking up sales of $1. …

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