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Jerky is no longer the preservative-filled junk of convenience store aisles. New companies are creating much healthier options made from sustainable sources so athletes can enjoy this protein-packed snack as part of an omnivorous diet.
EPIC Hunt & Harvest Mix
EPIC Provisions continues to break new ground in the dried meat space with its twist on trail mix, sold in five flavors. Each resealable package comes with two pockets—one with organic, grass-fed beef jerky, and one with nuts, berries and/or seeds. When you open the package, you break the seal between the two pockets and create a protein-rich, flavorful snack. The Honest Harvest variety, which combines beef with lightly salted almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts and pistachios, was the taste test favorite for its heartiness and pleasant blend of textures. It’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, in addition to protein (more than 20 grams in the package). $4.99, Epicbar.com
Field Trip Jerky
Available in four beef and two turkey flavors, the Cracked Pepper No. 7 Turkey Jerky was a winner in our taste test, thanks to its classic thin jerky texture and subtle spice. The Field Trip nutrition labels include only natural, recognizable ingredients, such as brown sugar, pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar, and all the brand’s jerkies are made with gluten-free reduced sodium soy sauce, making them entirely gluten-free. Thanks to the leanness of turkey meat, the turkey jerkies are fat free. $6.50, Fieldtripjerky.com
KivaSun Bison Jerky
This Native American-owned company makes its jerky from bison, which is lower in fat and higher in protein than beef. The hatch chile flavor (also available in original) is seriously addicting, with each bite finishing with a bit of heat. The bison is raised without antibiotics or hormones, and the jerky texture is soft and easy to chew, which the company says results from using a high-quality cut. The jerky contains zero artificial ingredients, and sales help fund type 2 diabetes education for Native American youth. $8.99, Kivasunfoods.com