Putting together an emergency survival kit is no joke. Whether you’re prepping for a natural disaster, a backwoods camping trip, or any other high-stakes situation, you need to make sure it’s complete with all the necessities.
A flashlight, a radio, a first aid kit, maps, basic tools, a tarp for shelter… those are all pretty straightforward and easy to assemble.
But choosing the right food for your emergency survival kit can be more challenging. It needs to be nutritious, nonperishable, compact, and easy to transport — and ideally, it would taste good too.
Luckily, there’s one food that ticks all of those boxes and then some: jerky.
Be it beef, turkey, venison, pork, tuna, or any other meat, jerky deserves a place in your emergency kit. Here are 7 undeniable reasons why.
7 Reasons Why Jerky Is the Best Emergency Food
1. Jerky Is Loaded with Energy-Boosting Protein
When you’re in survival mode, you need all the energy you can get, and you need it in a form that your body can quickly and easily process.
That means you need protein. And beef jerky is loaded with it: a single piece can contain up to 7 grams of protein, while a one-cup serving can contain over 30 grams.
Other types of jerky provide even more protein: a cup of turkey jerky contains 47 grams of protein, and a cup of pork jerky contains 54 grams.
And because all of this protein comes from animal sources, your body is able to utilize it more efficiently than it can utilize plant proteins. That means less wasted protein and more fuel to help your body heal from injuries, build muscle, and survive an emergency.
2. Jerky Protects and Strengthens Your Immune System
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Modern conveniences don’t just keep us comfortable, they also keep us healthy. Air and water filters, climate control, medical devices, and other technological advances reduce our risk of getting sick — but most of them require electricity and a permanent location.
When you need to break out the emergency kit, you may not have power or a stable place to shelter — and you’ll probably be stressed to the max. That puts you at a greater risk of contracting illness, so you’ll need to fortify your immune system with nutrient-rich foods.
And jerky is a fantastic choice for doing just that.
One cup of beef jerky contains 66% of your daily zinc, 37% of your daily vitamin B12, 29% of your daily phosphorus, 27% of your daily iron, and 18% of your daily selenium.
All of these nutrients are critical for immune system health, working in conjunction with each other to repair damaged immune cells, regulate blood flow and produce antibodies. And few foods provide them as efficiently as jerky does.
3. Jerky Is Lightweight and Compact for Easy Portability
In an emergency, the last thing you want is to have to wrangle heavy, bulky bags of supplies. They slow you down, tire you out, and limit the places you can go.
That means that many typical nonperishable foods just aren’t practical in a survival kit. Canned and jarred foods are handy, for sure, but they’re too hefty to depend on fully.
On the other hand, Jerky weighs next to nothing and can be compacted down into just about any shape without worry. It may be nutritionally dense, but it’s anything but unwieldy to carry.
4. Jerky Lasts a Long Time Without Special Storage
Without refrigeration, fresh meat spoils fast, so having it around during an emergency is highly impractical.
But you can still get your meat fix — and all the nutritional benefits that come along with it — if you include jerky in your emergency survival kit.
Because jerky is dried and preserved, it can be stored at room temperature as long as it’s kept away from sunlight in a dry, sealed container. This could be a zip lock bag, a plastic container, a mason jar, or a vacuum-sealed bag.
Stored properly, jerky can last for years without refrigeration. It may not taste as fresh as it did when it was first made, but it’ll be perfectly safe — and still pretty darn tasty!
5. Jerky Is Ready to Eat with No Preparation Required
When you’re just trying to survive, you might not have the time or supplies needed to cook a hot meal. Building a fire won’t always be possible, but your body doesn’t care: no matter what, it needs nutritious food that’s safe to eat.
And when it comes to those criteria, jerky is unbeatable. There’s no need to open a can, use a knife, find utensils, heat your meal or prepare it in any way — just open the container and chow down.
No matter where you are or what tools you have available to you, you can eat jerky. That makes it an incredibly valuable asset in emergency scenarios, where circumstances and environments can change in the blink of an eye.
6. Jerky Is Delicious — and Can Make Other Foods Tastier
Of course, being in survival mode means sacrificing a lot of creature comforts. Depending on the food you include in your emergency kit, that could mean giving up the pleasures of eating deliciously for military-style dehydrated meals and flavorless canned goods.
But while it probably won’t elevate your meals to Michelin-star status, some tender, savory jerky can make otherwise unpleasant food a little more enjoyable.
A bland dish of beans and instant rice becomes much more substantial when adding some jerky. And a can of unseasoned mixed vegetables will come alive with flavor when paired with the umami goodness of some quality jerky.
7. Jerky Can Help You Stay Calm in Stressful Situations
Happiness is all about the little things — and that’s true whether you’re in a crisis or not. So when things seem dire and your life is on the line, it’s important to find tiny things to appreciate.
And if you include jerky in your emergency kit, you can use it to ground yourself, soothe your nerves and regain your focus when you get overwhelmed.
Taking a few minutes to pay attention to the flavors and textures of your jerky can reduce your anxiety and clear your mind. This is known as mindful eating, and it’s been shown to reduce stress, improve digestion and boost mood.
Simply enjoying your jerky can help you stay calm and make better decisions when navigating an emergency. In this way, jerky can be like first aid for the mind, making it an essential component of any emergency survival kit.
Jerky for Survival Preps: Shelf Life, Storage and Uses (Video)
"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy