The Chicago Tribune's "Playing With Fire" series investigated how two powerful industries — Big Tobacco and chemical manufacturers — waged deceptive campaigns that led to the proliferation of flame retardant chemicals, which don’t even work as promised.

Michael Hawthorne drops some knowledge on us

By Mitch Ryals Columbia, MO — By the time Michael Hawthorne was about 4 years old, his mom was already sick of his questions. The innately curious Hawthorne continued asking them through middle and high schools as he worked on school papers, though it wasn’t until college that he realized his dream was to become a big shot…

Quackenbush uses a mustard extraction technique to take earthworm samples from Pokagon State Park in Angola, Ind., 2010.

A search for identity and earthworms

Photo courtesy of Pattie Quackenbush By Mitch Ryals  COLUMBIA, Mo. — Soil is alive. It moves and changes below our feet without a second thought or a thank you from above. Yet soil health and composition has a huge impact on our lives. It affects the food that grows in the ground. It affects forests, which…

FDA_Nutrition_Facts_Label_2014 (1)

Proposed nutrition labels could highlight added sugars

Photo courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administrations By: Mitch Ryals Columbia, Mo. — Nutrition labels might get a makeover in the next year. A recent proposal by the Obama administration would require nutrition labels to highlight calories and added sugars. Eating too much added sugar can contribute to chronic diseases such as obesity, says…

Photo courtesy of Markay Media

Film Review: Private Violence

By: Mitch Ryals Columbia, Mo. – Domestic violence is one of those topics. Like suicide, rape, addiction and molestation, it’s difficult to talk about. Victims are embarrassed and scared. They might be pitied or thought weak. Friends and neighbors whisper and pass judgment. “She must have done something to deserve it.” “If she’s stupid enough…

Mitch Ryals

Mitch has degrees in journalism and English from the University of Missouri — Columbia . But don’t ask him to recite any Shakespeare, his emphasis was in creative writing. Originally from St. Louis and now a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism, Mitch wants to write for a newspaper or magazine when he graduates.