Ferndale Market has taken turkey to heart.

In fact, it’s the state’s first farm-to-turkey-store, created by John Peterson, with his wife, Erica, in Cannon Falls, Minn.

The free-range turkeys are raised on the adjacent Peterson family farm, where John’s parents, Dick and Jane, continue the work of John’s grandparents, Fern and Dale, for whom the store is named. The area’s sandy soil is especially good for the turkeys, and the turkeys are good for the soil, contributing compost, eating the grubs and bugs, and turning it over as they peck and hunt.

“The farm has always raised and processed the turkeys responsibly, but until we created the store, the difference was not being recognized,” Peterson said.

Ferndale Market has grown to become the area’s prime source for local sustainably produced foods — breads, pastas, honey, preserves, condiments, dairy, eggs, pork and beef.

Demand for their fresh turkeys spikes during the holidays, of course, but the breast meat continues to sell well through the year. That left the dark meat to sell, a challenge that Peterson saw as an opportunity. Ferndale began producing turkey sausages and hot dogs, and more recently, turkey snacks — Cranberry Turkey Sticks, Turkey Pepperjack Sticks and Teriyaki Turkey Strips.

Peterson reached out to Steve’s Meats in Ellendale, Minn., a smokehouse that helped them produce the uncured turkey sticks, which need refrigeration.

“They worked with us to develop recipes using celery salt instead of artificial nitrates,” said Peterson. Lorentz Meats in Cannon Falls processes the turkey strips.

“We can’t call the strips ‘jerky’ because they have a higher moisture content and are not shelf-stable,” said Peterson.

Because turkey is mild, it takes on other flavors beautifully. “We decided on a cranberry stick, because the combination is familiar, and the cranberries add a sweet tang to the mild spice. In contrast, the pepperjack variety has a nice soft kick. The Teriyaki Turkey Strips are like beef jerky,” Peterson said.

High in protein, gluten-free and low in fat, carbohydrates and sugar, these turkey snacks are healthful and easy to pack for school snacks, office breaks and post-workout pick-me-ups. They are so flavorful and tender that I often chop and toss them into salads and add them to soups and stews for a little oomph.

 

Ferndale’s Teriyaki Turkey Strips are sold in 4.5-ounce packages and retail for about $5; Turkey Sticks, in 8-ounce packages, go for about $6. They’re widely available in area co-ops, Kowalski’s, most supermarkets, or find them at Ferndale Market, 31659 Willow Trail, Cannon Falls, Minn. ferndalemarketonline.com.