Different Types of Exotic Jerky To Try
People browsing the snack aisle may view jerky as just another piece of processed food and a relatively recent invention for modern people on the go. But they would be mistaken. The process of marinating, curing, and drying meat traces back to the 16th century, when the South American native tribe the Quechua salted and smoked thin strips of alpaca meat to store for when fresh options were not available.
That’s right: one of the first recordings of what we call jerky was actually alpaca meat!
Many Americans may not realize that there’s a long history of turning various and often unique animals into different types of exotic jerky to try.
Compared to other options, alligator meat is low in calories, low in saturated fat, and high in protein. It is also a source of monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat prevalent in avocados, nuts, and vegetable oils. Unless you season heavily, alligator has a mild flavor.
Alligator has long been a staple of cuisine in the southern United States. But outside of Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and other states in the south, it is still an exotic and unique snack. Many people will go their whole lives without eating a reptile. Alligator jerky is an easy way to break with the familiar.
Elk jerky is a healthier red meat alternative to regular beef jerky, primarily due to the elks’ environment. Since they are considered exotic animals, grass-feeding is much more likely for elks than for standard beef cattle. Therefore, when you eat elk, you are very likely eating an animal that lived outdoors and ate a balanced, natural diet.
The health benefits of this are tremendous. Elk is an excellent source of protein and iron that is still low in fat. Elk is also free from the antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones that exist in so many other meat products. Customers seeking elk jerky for sale can be confident they will get plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA or “good fats.” These good fats can help fight cancer and heart disease.
Rattlesnake jerky, another bizarre reptile jerky to add to your repertoire, is an intimidating snack for the uninitiated. Often available for sale in a can with broth, you can eat this jerky on its own or add it to a soup or pasta. Its lean white meat makes it one of the less savory jerky options, but its uniqueness places it as a bucket list item for sure. Plus, since hunters catch and kill rattlesnakes in the wild, their jerky does not contain added preservatives or steroids.
Those concerned about the ethical treatment of their meat, however, should be careful with rattlesnakes. There are no regulations for hunting these creatures. Very often, their capture involves a process called “gassing,” in which a hunter will pump gasoline or noxious substances into holes and crevices until the animal comes out gasping for air. Animal rights activists have universally condemned this practice.
Historically, kangaroo meat has been a source of protein for indigenous Australians. Kangaroo jerky is now available worldwide, with most of its popularity outside its native continent. The nutritional research shows kangaroo meat is higher in threonine, isoleucine, and valine and lower in arginine and methionine-cystine amino acids than farmed meats. Such research would indicate that, of all the different types of jerky to try, kangaroo jerky is a healthier, less fatty jerky option than most. It is a great source of iron as well.
Eating kangaroo jerky can also help the Australian government, which is now dealing with an overabundance of the large marsupials. Wild kangaroos outnumber the Australian population, and, unlike cattle, they require no extra land or water, and they produce little methane. A diet called “kangatarianism” involves abandoning all meat except for kangaroos. Those who adhere to this diet, primarily living in Australia, say it is a sustainable, eco-friendly solution to their gigantic pest problem.
Similar to elk, ostriches, the largest bird in the world, are often raised in open fields where they receive well-balanced, nutritional diets. The sale of ostrich meat as an industry is still relatively new, which could be why it has thus far avoided the inhumane trappings of large commercial farming. Without steroids, hormones, or antibiotics, ostriches are free to mature in a healthy environment that ultimately produces lean, nutritional jerky.
Despite being a bird with lower-calorie meat than chicken, nutritionists classify ostriches are red meat. The many health benefits of ostrich jerky include:
- Low cholesterol
- High iron
- High protein
- High vitamin B-12
- 2/3 less fat than beef
The meat of this flightless, strange bird has become more popular in recent years, with markets expanding in Europe, North America, and Japan. Many believe that the demand will soon overtake the supply, which may have a negative impact on their fair-treatment farming practices. For the time being, though, ostrich jerky is a safe bet for those seeking a humane, delicious, and healthy snack option.
Wild Boar Jerky
The wild boar, whose natural diet consists primarily of acorns, roots, and vegetables, delivers a sweet and nutty taste to its jerky. Though part of the same family as the pigs that make up our bacon, the wild boar tastes and looks quite different, with a deeper, redder color than its domesticated cousin.
The wild boar is also very lean and low in cholesterol, which makes it an excellent alternative to beef and pork. It is high in protein and a good source of monounsaturated fats and zinc. Though it is far from the healthiest option on this list, it still packs more nutritional value than one might think.
Now Go Check It Out
People can get stuck in their ways—they find a television show they watch repeatedly or a game they play over and over again. This tendency can be especially true of snacks or “comfort foods,” whose very name implies a familiar, non-threatening treat. But when someone gets stuck in these ruts, they lose sight of all the amazing possibilities life can offer—of the variety that exists all around them. But there is no reason you should have to live like that. Branching out and trying new, exotic jerkies is one way to break the mold.