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Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 131: Homegrown Turkeys

Gobble, gobble, gobble

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without the 450 registered Minnesota Turkey farmers who raise more than 40 million birds a year here. Turns out we are actually the country’s leading 🦃 producer, and the growers association behind the Minnesota State Fair’s popular Turkey To Go booth have roots dating to 1939. ⁣

The state’s thriving industry encompasses behemoths like the Thief River-based Northern Pride, Inc. co-op (its 25 members produce about 40 million pounds of turkey annually) and the Hormel-owned Jennie-O as well as long-running family operations like Peterson Farms. ⁣Based in Cannon Falls, the Petersons are a favorite at natural food stores throughout the Midwest thanks to their Ferndale Market line: a shining example of how tasty a free-range bird can be when it’s raised in a thoughtful and humane manner, and without growth hormones or antibiotics. ⁣

The Petersons sell their whole turkeys at their eponymous shop in Cannon Falls, a half hour south of the Twin Cities. The indie grocery store stocks goods from more than 100 local farmers and makers, including hot & spicy Bare Honey, stuffing mix from Brick Oven Bakery, Laos-style turkey sausage with lemongrass and kaffir lime from Mali & Co., and homemade apple pies. All the makings of a memorable Thanksgiving, if you ask us. ⁣

Pictured at the top of this post is a dapper wild turkey, of course. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, wild turkeys were once booted out of Minnesota, only to be repatriated in the early ’70s. Most of the state’s 70,000 wild turkey residents are descended from a release of just 29 adult turkeys trapped in Missouri and transplanted to Houston County. Sounds like they have their own thanks to be giving!

Ferndale Market
31659 Willow Trail, Cannon Falls. Paul, MN; 507-263-4556.