COLUMBIA— Eating locally and buying fresh foods are signs of the times. Boone County is home to a number of companies that provide central Missouri residents with fresh salsa, coffee, barbecue sauce, goat cheese, bread, produce and more. Here are the stories behind four of them.
Specialty: 10 varieties of bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies and candy.
Where to buy: Show Me Farms Market at 8090 East Highway AB; Clovers Natural Market at 2100 Chapel Plaza Court and 2012 E. Broadway; and Columbia Farmers’ Market in the Activity and Recreation Center parking lot on Saturdays in April through November from 8 a.m. to noon and Mondays and Wendesdays in May through October from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Annie Humphreys started making bread in 2003. At first it was a favorite of the neighbors, but word spread. Before she knew it, grocery stores were asking for her homemade creations as well.
In 2005, her breads were so popular that she moved into a commercial kitchen to meet the demand. In this kitchen, located in Show Me Farms Market, she mixes up her local favorites.
But Humphreys was baking long before this.
“I started when I was 13. We never bought store-made bread because my mom made it,” she said. “So I took over. I used some of my mom’s recipes, but I mostly took bits and pieces and combined them for my own.”
This second-generation Columbian has gotten to be quite efficient with her time and resources.
“Dough from one batch turns out 6 loaves. We can put out 170 loaves in eight hours if we get our system down,” she said.
Humphreys grinds the wheat, shape the loaves by hand and doesn’t add preservatives to the bread.
Specialty: Honey, honey ice cream and jams
Location: 6800 North Kircher Road, Columbia
Where to buy: On location or at the Columbia Farmers’ Market
Art Gelder was the manager of the Missouri Beekeepers Booth at the state fair for eight years, which sold honey ice cream.
“We thought the ice cream at the booth was totally awesome,” said Gelder’s wife, Vera, “and we learned how to make it with their bees.”
They began to make their own honey ice cream three or four years ago, said Vera Gelder about the beginnings of Walk-About Acres’ business venture.
The Gelders came to Columbia 27 years ago.
“We’d been through Columbia before and I thought it was a really neat town,” Vera Gelder said. “To us, this is the perfect melting pot of big town and small town.”
They moved to their current location in 1992 and opened it to the public in 1999. Kids from the first field trips are still heading out to the property to get a taste of the ice cream or honey.
“A lot of these kids haven’t been on a farm. This isn’t a traditional farm, but it is a bee farm,” Gelder said. “We were amazed at how much people loved to come here.”
The honey is collected throughout the summer and stored until needed for ice cream, which is mixed in a soft-serve ice cream mixer. “It’s not a traditional mix. It has 10 ingredients, and milk is the first ingredient. Honey is in the top five,” Gelder said.
“Honey has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than regular sugar. I would say it adds to the ice cream in a lot of ways,” she said.
It takes at least an hour to put the machine together and get ice cream to come out of the spigot.
In an eight-hour day, the farm produces about 500 5-ounce cups of ice cream.
Specialty: CJ’s wing sauce
Location: 704 E. Broadway, Columbia
Where to Buy: On location, at the Root Cellar, 814 A E. Broadway, or online at cjs-hotwings.com
CJ’s has been making wing sauce for 19 years. When the owners moved into town from Florida, they said there was no place to get good wings.
“Florida had a lot. They were popular in the South. When we came to Columbia, there wasn’t anything here and it worked out perfect,” Cheri Sevcik said.
Her first name is “C” in CJ’s and her husband, John, is the “J.”
When CJ’s opened, they tried bottled sauces without success then they decided to make their own.
“My husband is a lover of flavor and hot sauces. So I stirred the pot and he tasted it,” Sevcik said.
The couple has been creating their own recipes since. In November 2000 they began to bottle the sauces up for resale and introduced two flavors to the public, Hot and Burn Your Face Off (BYFO).
Contrary to the names, they’re not in it to create the hottest sauce around.
“They’re more flavorful than heat hot,” Sevcik said. “Some people like heat hot, so they can’t even swallow it. But we’re not in the hot contest. Ours is for the people that love flavor.”
Specialty: Goat cheese
Location: 11351 Callahan Creek Road, Harrisburg
Where to Buy: Columbia Farmers’ Market; Clovers Natural Market; Hy-Vee, 3100 W. Broadway; the Root Cellar. Find it on the menu at the Main Squeeze, Les Bourgeois Winery, Sycamore, Uprise Bakery and The Wine Cellar and Bistro.
The Jen and Ken Muno discovered their love for cheese long before coming to Boone County, where they own Goatsbeard Farm.
“We started in Michigan,” Jen Muno said, “We were working at a deli that had lots of farmstead cheese. We fell in love with goat cheese and the animals.”
Her husband did two internships at goat dairies to learn the process. But some of their methods are age-old.
“People 200 to 300 years ago were making cheese the way we’re doing it,” Muno said.
“It’s hand ladled,” Muno said. “We take a soup ladle and pour the curds into the cups. It’s labor intensive and can’t be made on a factory line. We like that. That’s what we fell in love with.”
The Munos emphasize that good cheese starts with good milk.
“It all starts with high-quality milk from the goats,” she said. “We take care in housing and feeding them and making sure that the milk is clean.”
Fresh goat cheese can take four days to get from milk to the table. Blue cheese, however, takes six months to age.
“We have an aging room where we can keep it cool and humid,” Muno said.
Muno said Goatsbeard Farm’s attention to quality sets the farm apart from the competition.
“Most of the goat cheese you find at the grocery store is made on huge scales and vacuum-packed,” Muno said. “Ours is fresh. We watch the shelf life. Freshness is the main difference, then the attention to detail and our use of older methods.”