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Sask.-made buffalo jerky headed for space

Food contest winners | Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield helped select Buffalo Stix from 150 entries

Those who think the taste of Trails End Buffalo Stix is out of this world will be happy to know the Saskatchewan-made bison jerky will soon be, well, out of this world.

The smoked bison and cranberry jerky developed in 2004 by Livelong, Sask., ranchers Judy and Kevin Wilkinson is among 12 products heading to the International Space Station this fall as a result of a contest.

It will be one of the Canadian-made snacks eaten by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his crew — a Russian and an American — during a six-month mission called Expedition 34/35.

Judy Wilkinson said Aug. 29 she knew nothing about the Canadian Space Agency’s Snacks for Space contest, which ran last August, until someone contacted her at that time.

“I got this e-mail from someone claiming to be a purchasing agent for the International Space Station,” she said.

The agent bought a few packages of jerky and many months later another e-mail arrived asking questions about packaging and shelf life.

Finally, the Wilkinsons learned that Hadfield had helped to select the winning snacks from among the 150 original entries and their bison jerky was one of them.

“Someone named Jeff from Edmonton recommended our product,” Wilkinson said. “I don’t even know his last name.”

The jerky is already on its way to Quebec. From there it will be on a shipment to the ISS.

Hadfield heads into space Dec. 5 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that will launch in Kazakhstan. While in space he will conduct scientific experiments and operate the Canadarm 2 to retrieve one of his Canadian snack shipments.

During the last half of the mission he will be the first Canadian commander of the space station.

The space agency said astronauts in space eat three meals and one or two snacks per day, similar to what they would eat on Earth.

“On a long-duration space mission, snacks can be a great morale booster,” Hadfield said in a news release. “Sharing this food will not only lift our spirits but it will also give me the chance to tell the crew a little bit about the diversity and richness of the natural and cultural landscapes of Canada.”

The other winning snacks are: candied wild smoked salmon, smoked salmon pate, cereal, dried apple chunks, fruit bars, green tea cookies with orange zest, maple syrup cookies, organic chocolate, honey drops, chocolate bars and maple syrup.

Some of the products are from British Columbia, including Holy Crap cereal and Whistler Chocolate.

Wilkinson said she was told she will get a picture of Hadfield eating jerky while in space.

The couple produces jerky at two locations. The product for provincial distribution is made in Drake, Sask., while the jerky for national distribution is made at the federally inspected Food Centre in Saskatoon.

“I cut all of the jerky myself, at the Food Centre,” she said. “It’s strange to think that something you actually touched is going out there, in space.”

She has no idea what to expect in terms of demand once more people learn that the jerky is a space snack.

“We are limited as to how much we can expand because it depends how often we can get into the Food Centre,” she explained.

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