Of the many areas where Asian Americans affect American life, the last place I expected to see an influence is with jerky. Jerky has never been a favorite of mine (it’s okay), so I was surprised to read that Asian Americans are driving up the popularity of jerky and other meat snacks. In the Nielsen Homescan report that is the source of that article, Nielsen claims that meat snacks are now the biggest snack spend per trip when people go out and shop. I really should not have been surprised, for a number of reasons.
After some looking, I found out that 8asians talked about this subject almost 10 years ago. Moreover, some of us have been eating jerky all of our lives. I didn’t realize that Filipino tapa fell into the category of jerky. Jerky is a form of cured meat, and I really really like Filipino cured meats such as tocino. After searching around, I found a number of jerky sellers that mix in Asian American flavors, from Teriyaki to other Asian inspired flavors.
A question not covered in these food industry oriented articles is whether eating jerky is good or bad for you. My concern regards the high salt content of many kinds of jerky, especially like many Filipinos, as I have to deal with hypertension. The World Health Organization has declared that processed meat products like cured meats (and thus jerky) are unhealthy. Still, whether it’s healthy or not, it looks like Asian Americans will continue to drive jerky sales upward.