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Since 2010 beef jerky has made its way into European supermarkets and aroused the curiosity of many consumers. In North America, South Africa and Asia, people have eaten beef jerky for several centuries, although in somewhat different forms and with different names.
Legend has it that beef jerky was invented by the Quechua Indians in South America at around 1500. At least, the word jerky derives from ch’arki, which means 'to burn meat' in Quechua. In any case, drying meat to improve its preservation is an ancient technique. There is no doubt that strips of beef – trimmed of fat, dried, and spiced – have been consumed for several thousands of years.
Today beef jerky is mainly a snack, as can be seen from its practical, light packaging. Inexpensive and storable without refrigeration, it is high in protein and low in fat – making it an important food for hunters, nomads and adventurers of all kinds.