Jackson Baris likes beef. And at18, he’s the youngest legal beef jerky entrepreneur on the East Coast, “and maybe the U.S.,” the East Hampton High School grad offered.
Now a student at NYU, Mr. Baris developed a fascination when, “I made it once and it was really, really good.” He spent all four years in high school perfecting it and giving it away to friends and, “it kind of took on a life of its own.”
“My family doesn’t eat meat and I really like meat, and so I had to find a solid supply,” the entrepreneur explained, speaking to how his interest developed. “And jerky is the only thing that lasts long enough, so I started to cook jerky because I wanted some meat around the house.”
In school in the city, Mr. Baris comes out to the East End Food Institute in Southampton at Southampton College to cook, and this summer will sell the jerky at the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market.
The jerky is made with humanely raised, grass-fed beef, fresh, organic ingredients, and is “a truly remarkable product,” Mr. Baris said. “It sells out in minutes each time we restock product.”
To order, customers have to text a phone number, wait until the order form is sent to them, and then scramble to get their order in before it sells out.
“I just really love it,” he continued. “What this jerky really is, it’s an ethical approach towards high-end beef jerky. Basically, what that means is I pay four times the amount for my ingredients because the farmers in Minnesota practice regenerative agriculture, which cuts off a lot of CO2 emissions.”
The beef in Jackson’s Jerky is not a product of corporate feed lots. “The standard of treating cows is very low now, and I really value the animal, it’s important to me … That’s the reason why it’s so expensive, but also the reason why it’s so good.”
It’s been four years of researching, the quest for the right ingredients and recipe, Mr. Baris said. The beef comes from a farm where cows graze and run free and eat grass, not corn. The most difficult part about starting Jackson’s Jerky was how hard it was to find a supply of organic ingredients, and, more importantly, beef that wasn’t corn fed, held in close quarters, or injected with chemical fatteners.
“My mom’s been really instrumental, and really helpful in getting me organized,” he said praising his mother, Heather.
Customers order through a phone number because, “There’s a lot of demand and not too much supply.”
He’s working on a website, and expects to eventually be selling through jacksonsbeefjerky.com.
Asked if the enterprise has become profitable yet, he said, “What I find is that there’s an ethical cost. I could become profitable if I cut my costs, but since I’m not putting a roof over my head right now, this is a venture I’m giving time to mature.”
ARTICLE BY KITTY MERILL OF 27 EAST