Minnesota's new food entrepreneurs

``Buffalo roam on its range. So do wild boar. A new generation of food entrepreneurs in northern Minnesota are selling exotic meats as well as more traditional regional foods like pasties, sarma, and wild rice sausages,'' says John Uldrich, a former executive director of the Range Business Assistance Center, a non-profit economic development group. Working together for better promotion and marketing, the companies promote their products as ``good things from the range.'' These good things come from such companies as Homestead Mill (PO Box 1115, Cook, MN 55723), a former seed growers' co-op owned by Carol and Keith Aho, who have expanded into packaged cereal blends, pancake, and fish batter mixes and unusual baking flours.

``The big companies don't take time to mill a few pounds of buckwheat flour or wild rice flour and package it in attractive silk-screened linen bags as we do,'' says Eric Pederson, salesman for the mill.

Naomie's Country Style Bakery (17 W. Lake St., Chisholm, MN 55719) makes pasties and wild rice rolls.

Kraig Kiger of the Black Ship Trading Company (1851 Highway, 169 E., Grand Rapids, MN 55744) grows and sells fresh shiitake mushrooms and plans to add soup mixes and powdered mushrooms.

Black Boar Ranch (Box 288, Chisholm, MN 55719) supplies wild boar meat for such products as wild boar ham and porketta and will add exotic and wild game meat products.

The Iron Trail Meat Company (PO Box 1304, Buhl, MN 55713) has an unusual product, ``Jim's Wild Rice Sausage,'' a unique blend of wild rice, pork, and natural seasonings. Roger Pauling, master sausage maker at Iron Trail, makes German style bratwursts and porketta, an Iron Range special prime pork seasoned with fennel, parsley, salt and pepper.

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