All posts by Meghan Eldridge Hatcher

Spring abounds at Pinnacles Youth Park

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This past weekend I was lucky enough to visit Pinnacles Youth Park, located about 12 miles north of MU’s campus off U.S. 63, on two separate occasions.

As a recent immigrant from Texas, I’m enamored with the concept of spring. This season, and any other besides stifling summer, is a phenomenon that is largely absent from all parts of the Lone Star State, and something I’ve never encountered.

In Missouri, the trees bloom. The flowers shoot through the ground and blanket flowerbeds with vibrant blossoms seemingly overnight, enveloping the air with their fragrance. The sun peaks through the clouds in the morning and it rains in the afternoon, never reaching much higher than a mild 75 degrees.

In Texas, there are two colors and two temperatures throughout the year — green and warm if you’re lucky, and brown and boiling if you aren’t.

As someone who moved to the Midwest after the summer of one of the worst drought’s in Texas’ history, I can’t believe that flowers that are planted here in October can survive to bloom in March.

Pinnacles Youth Park only furthered my admiration for Mother Nature’s most recent debut.

Friday afternoon afforded me the opportunity to hike with friends up the trail and across the park’s various rock faces and cliffs. We spotted the first signs of budding trees rebounding from winter, and saw flowers blossoming on Dogwoods.

Saturday morning gave me the chance to see the sunrise from atop one of the peaks at Pinnacles— an opportunity not to be missed, and without a doubt one of the highlights of this Texan’s first spring here in Columbia.

Green is more than a color in MU Art department

Associate professor of painting William Hawk has been working at the University of Missouri for almost fourteen years, and his continued efforts to create a more sustainable department have made a significant impact on the practices of his students and colleagues.

Wiliam Hawk, associate professor of painting, promotes the sustainable use and disposal of art supplies in MU's Art department.

Since his arrival at MU, Hawk has noticed issues of sustainability rise to the forefront in the art department and the art community in general.

“I think the campus is a lot more conscious about recycling and managing waste than it was when I first got here,” Hawk said. “When I first got here, I set up recycling for our bottles in laundry hampers. Now, throughout the department, you’re seeing other professors doing similar things. For example, in the paint room, we’ve added a recycling solvent system so we aren’t just going through solvent like we used to.”

The solvent system in the paintroom is essentially a simple filtering system that separates environmentally-harmful solvent from water used to wash paintbrushes. The paint and solvent settles to the bottom of the tank, allowing the comparatively cleaner water to rise the top and be extracted. The department leaves the toxic chemicals to be disposed of properly by MU’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

In addition to filtering toxins out of waste, Hawk said the art department is making sustainable choices when selecting materials.

“We’re also using chemicals that are a lot less harmful to the environm-

The solvent sink pictured here allows for the disposal of leftover paint in an environmentally-conscious way. Students are instructed on how best to handle potentially toxic materials.

ent. We’ve shifted the pigments we use away from the more toxic chemicals to more benign ones.”

The Environmental Protective Agency puts paint on its top-five list of environmental hazards, a ranking that resonates deeply with many artists. Hawk says he has seen a developing trend among painters to decrease their toxic footprint while continuing to create art.

“There are a lot of art schools that are really taking [sustainability] seriously,” Hawk said. “Of course, there are artists that make work specifically about these issues. That’s their cause and the meaning of their work. Instead of buying new paint, they’ll use the medium of collage more. They’re really making environmentally-conscious choices about the materials they use.”

Story and photos by Batul Hassan

Solar Dok offers sustainability, convenience

A new picnic table has taken up residence on the south walkway near the Plaza 900 dining hall.

The table, called a Solar Dok, is a solar-powered station produced by EnerFusion for charging cellphones, laptops and other devices.

The Solar Dok was installed on Feb. 20 and allows students to charge devices while enjoying the outdoors.

Solar energy is collected through photovoltaic panels on top of the table and stored in the base to be used to power students’ gadgets.

The number of students using the table has been limited since its installation. Reviews among students are mixed since the table is still relatively new to campus.

“The location of the table seems a bit odd since it’s right along a walkway and everyone eating at Plaza 900 can look at you while you attempt to study. It definitely doesn’t seem like a study spot, more of a spot to socialize,” freshman Sam Rourke said.

However, many students are enticed by the new opportunity to utilize renewable energy.

“I think that the table is a great way for students to learn about sustainability and become aware of ways that they can benefit from alternative sources of energy,” freshman Erin Burris said.

Solar Doks produce an entirely self-sustaining, renewable source of energy, and are made from recycled materials.  The Dok stores electrical energy in batteries and can be used when the sun is shining, as well as during the evening.

The Solar Dok was funded by a grant from the Student Fee Capital Improvement Committee and is sponsored by MU’s Campus Facilities, Sustainability Office and Campus Dining Services.

The table is another step in the University’s efforts to make the campus more sustainable and increase student awareness of green energy.

“Most of the things we’re doing with sustainability are hard to see. We want to get the word out to people about renewable energy, so the table is a demonstration project. It’s off the grid and something people can see right there in front of them and understand that we can produce electricity without using a power plant,” said Steve Burdic, Sustainability Office coordinator.

Depending on the reception of the Solar Dok among students, the Sustainability Office may install additional tables. Students can send comments and opinions about the table to Steve Burdic at

Photo by Meghan Eldridge 

Calling all Valentines: Senza offers gluten-free treats

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Two steps inside Mary Manulik’s home you spot the cellos of various sizes spread across the living room floor. Music stands are positioned all about the room, and sheet music is strewn atop the piano. Two more steps and you’re inside the kitchen where heart-shaped sugar cookies and cheery pies adorn the counters.

Manulik, owner of Senza Foods, is a woman with a vast array of talents. After retiring from Boone County Bank last February, Manulik took on additional cello students and now spends even more time teaching private lessons in her home. She also began baking gluten-free products on a grander scale for her home-based bakery.

“I always thought once I retired I would open a bakery. But then I thought, ‘I don’t need to wait, I can open one right now,’” Manulik said.

Her company’s name, Senza, is derived from the Italian word for “without,” but as Manulik will tell you, that does not mean her products are without taste, they’re just made without gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Since Manulik began baking for Senza, she sells her goods at the Columbia Farmers Market each Saturday, in addition to taking orders from customers throughout the week. Now that her dream of opening a bakery is a reality, Manulik wakes up at 5 a.m. most days to start measuring and mixing.

Last weekend’s menu included two cherry pies (one made without dairy), four Dutch apple pies, carrot cake muffins, coconut macaroons, sugar cookies, linzer cookies (chocolate with a raspberry filling), chocolate cookies with white chocolate icing, and Rugalach cookies (crescent-shaped with a raspberry filling).

The choice to bake without gluten was an easy one for Manulik, though it was not a matter of diet. Her husband, Joe Quetsch, was diagnosed twenty years ago with Celiac disease, a disorder that damages the lining of the small intestine when gluten enters the digestive system. From then on, Manulik and her children spent hours in the kitchen baking treats for Quetsch, testing and sampling recipes for traditional treats made without gluten.

It did not take long for the family to realize there wasn’t any reason to make separate dinners and desserts for Quetsch, since gluten-free foods were just as satisfying and easy to make as their traditional counterparts, Manulik said.

Additionally, in most grocery stores gluten-free, tasty desserts are hard to come by Manulik said.

“When you’re at the store and start reading labels and you find all these words that you can’t pronounce, who knows if that’s gluten-free,” Manulik said.

With these ideas in mind, Manulik developed Senza so that other people with gluten intolerance in Columbia and in surrounding communities could enjoy dessert, too.

To ensure that her products do not come into contact with gluten, Manulik takes extreme measures to maintain the safety of her ingredients.

She utilizes separate sets of measuring spoons and cups specifically for gluten-free baking. Her cabinets are divided in half — one side for gluten, the other for gluten-free. When her daughter, who is studying culinary arts in New York, comes home and cooks with gluten, Manulik makes her mix dry ingredients on a work surface in the garage since flour can stay in the air for hours.

“Cooking gluten-free takes a lot of awareness and diligence, and maybe a little bit of paranoia,” Manulik said.

These preventative measures have become routine for Manulik, and she moves around her kitchen with ease. Without thinking, she dips her hand into a drawer for a third set of measuring spoons, removes a canister of gluten-free brown rice flour kept on a set of shelves with other gluten-free ingredients, and washes a cookie sheet used exclusively for gluten-free baking.

While Manulik is primarily a gluten-free baker, she can accommodate other allergens in the making of her products as well, such as dairy-free or egg-free.

Many customers have come to associate Senza with responsible, if a bit paranoid, baking for people with food allergies.

A man living in St. Louis called Manulik last week to inquire whether she could prepare gluten and soy-free chocolate-covered strawberries for his girlfriend on Valentines Day.

Although Senza does not advertise chocolate-covered strawberries on its website, Manulik said yes and made a mental note on her lengthy to-do list to go to the grocery store to price berries and buy gluten-free chocolate.

“I’m busy, but I get up early and get to do things that I love all day long,” Manulik said.

For more information about Senza, or to place an order visit

Update: Bradford compost system fully functional

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Numbers from last semester estimate that a total of 6,000 pounds of basic materials (food scraps and horse bedding and manure) were used to produce 4,000 pounds of compost at the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research and Extension Center.

Beginning Nov. 18, 2011, Bradford began its first cycle in its new composting system. Using food scraps from six of MU’s dining halls, bedding and horse manure, the center’s system creates compost over a month-long period.

Each day, undergraduate students in the Biological Engineering program deliver food scraps to Bradford in the form of 610-pound loads. These food scraps are then mixed for about a week in a machine called a reel mixer.

From there, this mixture is moved to one of four bays where horse manure and bedding materials are added and allowed to decompose for another four weeks. At the end of the process, the mixture has decomposed into a few hundred pounds of compost rich in nutrients and ready to be used to grow vegetables.

Photos by Meghan Eldridge and Tim Reinbott.

This is an update to an article published by Footprint in September.

Review: Yes to carrots — moisturizing and eco-friendly

When it comes to eco-friendly products, the selection runs the gamut, both in price and in quality. Over the past weeks, I have experimented with various cosmetics in an attempt to weigh the pros and cons of going green at home.

One of the brands I tried is called Yes to [visit website], a line of cosmetics made from 95% organic ingredients and sold at various retail locations such as Walmart, Walgreens and CVS stores.

Of the sundry products produced by Yes to, I tried the Yes to Carrots daily moisture body lotion and the lip tint in Sunset Pink. Though I did spend $4.47 for the lip tint and $8.97 for the body lotion (without tax), I was pleased with both products.

The body lotion, with key ingredients like sweet potato root extract and carrot seed oil, left my skin soft without feeling greasy like so many other products. The company’s website says that it’s body lotion is paraben, SLS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) and petroleum free, making the products quite unique when pitted against other cosmetics on the market. The scent is not overpowering, but reminds me of the Coppertone suntan lotion my mom used at the neighborhood pool when I was a kid. Whether that is a good memory for others is a matter of personal preference, but I love it.

The Yes to lip tint was nice, too; though it did not last as long as some other lip balm brands like Chapstick or Carmex, but the color was just what I was looking for. Included in the company’s lip care products are other natural ingredients like coconut, jajoba and sunflower oil, shea butter and vitamin E, and notably missing paraben and carmine.

All in all, I was very pleased with my purchases, and loved the ingredient listings for what was included just as much as for what was left out. Sadly, I do not think this brand will make regular appearances in my grocery cart, purely because of the cost. Instead, this college girl will probably sayYes to carrots on the occasional guilt-free splurge.

Catacombs Art Market showcases local talent

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Nestled in the midst of the North Village Arts District, Artlandish Gallery may appear to be a quaint space as far as art galleries are concerned. But take one step inside the gallery and the expanse of artwork of all types- ceramics, pottery, paintings, photography and jewelry, just to name a few- make it apparent that this building boasts more than the work of just one artist.

By renting out space to individual artists as it becomes available, and allowing them to operate their own booths, Artlandish is able to conduct business in an unconventional way.

The gallery, owned by artist Lisa Bartlett, charges each artist $50 per month for the use of their space, and a 10% consignment fee; as opposed to as high as 50% at other galleries in the area. In this way, artists are afforded the opportunity to sell their artwork, while retaining a profit to support their livelihood.

“Art is a hard market, and in order to be sustainable you have to think of creative ways to sell your art. This gallery was a big experiment, but allowing artists to rent their own space makes them feel like they have some ownership and a sense of pride in a space to call their own,” Bartlett said.

This past weekend, Artlandish played host to an event called the Catacombs Art Market- Holiday Edition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For the third year, this festive event featured work from over 40 artists, many of whom call Columbia home. Shoppers were invited to the event to browse, purchase one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, and enjoy one of the unique staples of living in the city of Columbia.

Friday night featured an opening reception, including live music by Anna Duff, as well as wine and snacks. The bulk of the market took place on Saturday and Sunday, with most artists manning their booths in the lower level of the gallery, selling their work and socializing with customers. Hera Lynn performed lived music Sunday afternoon as shoppers perused the gallery.

One artist, Kate Martin, founder of a company called Peace Kitty showcased her design work at the event. Martin’s business motto reads, “Making a difference for our furr-legged friends,” and that is exactly what Peace Kitty aims to do.

For the past three years, Martin has been designing t-shirts, koozies, hats, and various other products, all with a purpose. To further her mission, Martin donates 10% of all profits to local animal shelters, including Second Chance, a no-kill shelter, and the Central Humane Society.

“With my products I promote walking in peace and kindness, and making a difference for our four-legged friends.I like to say that I make feel good shirts with a real good cause,” Martin said.

Another artist featured in the gallery was Jacqueline Pepper of All in the Family Arts and Crafts. Pepper creates pottery, Christmas ornaments and mobiles; while her sister Jodianne Pepper creates ink and watercolor drawings.

In 2000, Jacqueline Pepper underwent treatment for breast cancer. While receiving treatment, Pepper realized her need for a creative outlet and, what she termed, the healing and therapeutic nature of creating artwork. Shortly afterward, she cut back to part-time work as a social worker and pursued her passion as an artist.

“I seek to portray peace and love through art since those are two of the tenets of my faith. I love the idea that I canshare a part of myself with someone else,” Pepper said.

Pepper’s pottery is created using a mixture of stoneware and porcelain, and is made without the use of a wheel. Instead, she crafts her work using various methods such as pinching the clay into pots and layering coils. No matter the method, Pepper creates unique works of art of varying shapes and colors.


FRESH reveals bleak reality

Following the viewing of the documentary FRESH, a panel of local food gurus addressed questions from the audience pertaining to issues with the industrialized food system. From Left: Tim Gibbons of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, John Ikerd of the University of Missouri, Jake Davis of The Root Cellar.

Picture the fast-food hamburger you ate for lunch yesterday afternoon. Chances are that beef came from a major industrialized food producer, not a locally owned and operated farm. That label on the wrapper that reads “100% pure beef” does not say anything about the amount of antibiotics fed to the cattle. Nor does it boast any information about the conditions the animals were raised in, or the exploitation of the farmer whose livelihood depends on equitable treatment by industrial food businesses.

This lack of awareness and honesty is the current reality of our food system; something I learned on Monday night after viewing the documentary FRESH. The film, directed and produced by Ana Joanes, was shown at an event hosted by Sustain Mizzou as a part of National Food Day.

Before watching the documentary I did not really consider the sources of my food in great depth. Like many consumers I realized that something unnatural was occurring within the food system. I accepted that fresh, farm-raised poultry and beef taste significantly better than frozen, mass-produced foods, but I was not willing to go out of my way to procure them. I was not truly bothered enough by this reality to overhaul the way I eat, or to consider the other factors that come into play when producing meat in the industrialized food system.

FRESH opens with a scene of the type of farm I would like to envision my food coming from. Joel Salatin, a third-generation farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is the owner and operator of a farm called Polyface, Inc. A utopia settled in an area so rural that GPS and cell-phone coverage do not extend to their acreage. As Salatin takes viewers on a tour of his farm, explaining his methodologies and principles in an almost poetic manner, he details what he means when he says he is a “steward of the earth.” With the collaboration of other family members, and a commitment to sustainable farming, Salatin has implemented farming techniques that boast success on a large scale without the help of antibiotics, seeds, plows or synthetic fertilizers. Polyface, Inc. serves as a sustainable model for what can be the reality of the food system, if consumers would only take a participatory role in the local food movement and make greater demands of the industrialized food system.

In stark contrast to Salatin’s farming philosophy was the portrayal of industrialized food production. When juxtaposed with Polyface, Inc., the description of an industrialized chicken house is enough to put viewers off their lunch, quite literally. While watching the documentary, I was struck by the ­­images of pig houses that shelter hundreds of pigs at a time. Within these houses, animals are fed an unnatural diet chocked full of antibiotics to combat rampant disease outbreaks, and hormones to promote rapid growth at an unorthodox rate.

Another farmer profiled in FRESH, Russ Kremer of Osage County, Missouri told his compelling story on-screen. After making the transition to industrial pig farming techniques in the 1980s, including keeping hundreds of pigs inside concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)- essentially metal crates, Kremer sustained a life-threatening injury while handling one of his boars.

The boar speared Kremer in the kneecap with one of its tusks, resulting in a serious infection in Kremer’s leg. After countless indeterminate tests and ineffectual rounds of standard antibiotics, doctors concluded that Kremer was fighting a drug-resistant form of strep bacteria- the exact same bacteria he fought to ward off in his pig herd. The bacteria had mutated to become drug-resistant as a result of the massive amounts of antibiotics that he fed his pigs, and posed a serious risk to human health.

After his brush with drug-resistant bacteria, Kremer returned to his farm and exterminated his herd. He made a commitment to overhauling his farming practices, deciding not to use any industrial techniques, ruling out the use of antibiotics or confinement. According to Kremer, in his first year of traditional farming he saved $14,000 without drug expenses or veterinary bills. Kremer went on to found the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative and Heritage Acres label, a coalition of more than 50 family farmers raising pig herds sustainably; and notably, with monetary success.

Throughout the documentary, it became clear that the industrialized food system is currently in a dire situation, and needs the attention of the public to affect change. But there is hope.

Retired University of Missouri Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics John Ikerd was featured in the film, as well as during a panel discussion following the viewing on Monday night. Ikerd shared his unique opinions concerning the food system as it is now. As a man who lived during the year the first supermarket was introduced, Ikerd remembers a time when his family received all of the food from farms no more than 60 miles from his home.

Ikerd presented his conception of the big picture of the industrialized food system, and how to reconcile that with the local food movement. He called for a paradigm shift involving three steps. “People need to conclude that the current changes to the food system are not working- that it is not healthy and that there are still hungry people in this country. There also needs to be some concept of what changes will work; and finally, people need to believe that it is possible to make the transition to a healthier system,” Ikerd said.

For additional information about FRESH and the local food movement, check out the website below.

Leaves flutter like flames.

Leaves flutter like flames.

In autumn- orange, gold, crimson

Aspens come alive.

Aspen Trees
Aspen Leaves Flutter Along the East Rifle Creek, 10/1972. Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives

More from the Leaf Lyrics collection:

“Stuck in a garden with no way to bargain” – a limerick by James Jordan

“All things elm” – a playlist by Kelly Gehringer

“If trees had names” – an illustration by Kat Seal

“Not all leaves are created equal” – a Footprint photo gallery