Everybody loves beef jerky. It’s a handy, portable, high-protein snack that’s compact and worry-free. You don’t have to worry about it spoiling, even if you’re out in the heat. You don’t have to worry about it spilling or leaking inside your purse or gym bag. You just grab it and go.
Most people prefer to avoid the MSG-laden brands of beef jerky, instead opting for more “natural” varieties.
That’s where this week’s Oh Boy Oberto Natural Beef Jerky comes into play.
Here’s what the manufacturer claims:
“It’s simple: Our all-natural Jerky is made with premium strips of lean meat and seasoned to perfection. Oberto takes great pride in using only the best ingredients. No added artificial ingredients or preservatives means you can feel good about choosing Oberto. Family owned providing quality meat snacks since 1918. No added MSG.”
Oh Boy! Oberto Natural Beef Jerkey: Ingredients
- Beef Stock
- Natural Flavorings
- Natural Smoke Flavor
Oh Boy! Oberto Natural Beef Jerkey: DECODED
Beef is the first ingredient. Unfortunately, this is beef that’s been finished in feedlots. Animals finished in Confined Animal Feeding Operations are a sad example of animal husbandry. Not only are the CAFOs themselves destructive to the environment, but the animal foods they produce are far less healthy for you. Rather than derail this post, may I suggest that those of you interested in a discussion of how to eat HEALTHY, humanely-raised animal foods read my post Healthy Meats: What to Buy?
Sugar is most likely from genetically-modified sugar beets. If this had specified cane sugar, then we could potentially dismiss the GMO threat, but sadly that’s not the case. In addition to being genetically-modified, this sugar is also highly refined. It’s much better to stick to natural sweeteners! For more on what natural sweeteners are (here’s a hint: I’m not talking about Truvia!), please read My Natural Sweeteners of Choice.
Water, Beef Stock, Salt, Spices, Natural Flavorings, Natural Smoke Flavor, and Vinegar are most likely used to create a natural marinade for the meat that it’s then dehydrated in. I’m glad to see that they’re using Beef Stock, as that is likely what allows them to reduce the MSG in this product.
But wait! Why would I say “reduce”? Didn’t the manufacturer claim “No Added MSG”?
Unfortunately, it’s perfectly legal for a company to say their food product has “No added MSG” so long as they don’t add an ingredient called “monosodium glutamate” to their food. MSG, however, hides in more than 40 commonly used ingredients in industrial food — ingredients like flavoring. This means MSG can sneak up on you in a whole host of foods that don’t technically have a single ingredient called monosodium glutamate listed on their label. (source)
For more on where MSG may be hiding in your food labels, I’ve created a handy, downloadable, easy-to-print guide for you.
And finally, that vinegar is most likely derived from genetically-modified corn.
Oh Boy! Oberto Natural Beef Jerkey: THE VERDICT
While I know we all want to find convenience foods to make our lives easier, we have to balance that convenience with just how far it compromises our ideals. In this case, I would give this product an immediate pass for the beef alone.
While I love beef, it’s extraordinarily important to me to prioritize the sourcing of my animal foods well. So, I stick to grass-fed beef, preferably from area farmers I know and trust.
When you add that in with the uncertainty about the product containing hidden MSG, I can’t in good conscience buy this food.
What should I eat instead?
I highly recommend making your own beef jerky at home. I love Jenny of Nourished Kitchen‘s recipe for Sweet Chipotle-spiced Beef Jerky.
If you don’t own a dehydrator yet or don’t want to make your own jerky, there are a few brands of quality beef jerky available online. This is the one my family buys. It’s one of the few grass-fed beef jerky brands that uses organic tamari instead of GMO soy sauce, all organic spices, and no preservatives or nitrites.
Want Your Labels Decoded?
In this series on Decoding Labels, I’m highlighting deceptive labeling practices, hidden ingredients, and more! If you’ve got a particular label pet-peeve you’d like me to share, please feel free to email me with your idea. It may just turn into a blog post!