Kerr Center Publications

Closer to Home: Healthier Food, Farms and Families in Oklahoma

Closer to Home: Healthier Food Farms and Families in Oklahoma is the first look at Oklahoma’s food system from farm to table.

With this report, the Kerr Center helped increase public understanding of our food system broadening and deepening the discussion of what we can do to make our fields and tables healthier.

Since publication in 2007, the report has served as a catalyst for

  • expanded local food markets
  • farm-to-school and child nutrition programs
  • legislative enquiry into food deserts
  • anti-hunger campaigns

and much more.

The report served as the basis of two editorials and a four part series on hunger in the Tulsa Worldin December 2008.

And it continues to be influential, serving as a model for reports in other states and cities.

Closer to Home has a reader-friendly format. The report features about two dozen magazine-style articles about innovative people, businesses and programs contributing positively to community food security in Oklahoma.

The profiles run the gamut from a successful community garden at a small country school in Delaware County, to Oklahoma’s own regional dairy, Braum’s.

Alongside the profiles, we examine the community food security issues raised by the articles.

For example, alongside a profile of the Oklahoma Farm-to-School program, we explore the diet-related health problems of Oklahoma’s kids.

Along with a profile of the Muskogee Farmers’ Market, we investigate the economic potential of farmers selling direct to consumers.

Information on

  • historical food production
  • current agricultural production
  • local food marketing
  • economic advantages of local markets
  • diet and health
  • childrens’ health
  • hunger
  • food deserts

were combined to paint an in-depth portrait and analysis of food and agriculture in the Sooner State as Oklahoma as celebrated its centennial in 2007—with an eye towards a healthier future.

closer-map-of-oklaThis report takes a closer look at several counties in Oklahoma in the series of “county snapshots” that are paired with profiles throughout.

The county snapshots are serving as a starting point for groups who want to conduct a more in-depth assessment of their community’s food security.

Indeed, Closer to Home was meant to be an ice-breaker, a conversation starter, a catalyst for further study and action to improve Oklahoma’s food system so that it serves everyone well.

To this end, in each chapter we propose a number of steps that individuals, community groups and institutions might take to make the state healthier in its second 100 years.

  • Good Food for Good Health: Combating Poor Nutrition and Obesity with Locally Grown Foods
  • A Strong and Healthy Oklahoma: State and Private Employee Health and Wellness Initiatives
  • Public Policy Priorities: Nutrition and Health
  • A Going and Growing Market in Muskogee – Doug Walton
  • Who Shops at Oklahoma Farmers’ Markets?
  • Snapshot: Muskogee County
  • Feeling Hungry: Food Insecurity in Oklahoma
    – Maura McDermott
  • Public Policy Priorities: Food Insecurity
  • Hands Together for Community Food Security: Community Gardens  – Wylie Harris
  • Snapshot: Oklahoma County
  • A Garden to Grow on: The Leach School Garden – Doug Walton
  • Snapshot: Delaware County
  • Curing Our Kids: Better Food for Better Health – Doug Walton & Maura McDermott
  • Melons Carry Seeds of Change: Oklahoma’s Farm to School Program – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: Children’s Health and Food Education
  • Stop the Supersizing of Oklahoma’s Student Body: Integris CEO and the Fit Kids Coalition Lead the
  • Way to Healthier Choices for Kids –  Shauna Lawyer Struby
  • Getting What You Pay for: Affording Healthy Food – Wylie Harris
  • The Teacher Only Sets the Table: The Community Nutrition Education Program – Wylie Harris
  • Meeting the Food Stamp Challenge with Local Foods: Slow Food for Low and Moderate Income People  – Robert Waldrop
  • Public Policy Priorities: The Cost of Good Food
  • Fresh and Affordable: A Comparison of Farmers’ Market and Grocery Store Prices  – Emily Oakley & Mike Appel
  • You Can’t Get There from Here: Community Food Security in Oklahoma’s Food Deserts – Wylie Harris
  • Coupons Worth Clipping Doug Walton Northeast Oklahoma City’s “Grocery Gap”  – Shaun Chavis
  • Public Policy Priorities: Access to Good Food
  • Direct From the Source: Direct Market Produce from the Crows’ Farm – Wylie Harris
  • Who Sells at Oklahoma Farmers’ Markets?
  • Farm Direct: Direct Sales’ Potential for Increasing Community Food Security – Wylie Harris
  • Local-plicity: The Large Economic Multiplier Effects of Small Farms – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: Direct Marketing
  • Changing with the Times: Oklahoma Farms in Transition – Wylie Harris
  • CSA in Oklahoma: Linking Farms and Communities, City and Country – Wylie Harris
  • Snapshot: Creek County
  • It’s Not Quite the Middle of Nowhere: CSA Goes Country – Wylie Harris
  • Snapshot: Comanche County
  • Green Grass and Murray Greys: Beaver Creek Farms’ Direct – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: State of the State’s Farms
  • Eating Cooperatively and Locally: The Oklahoma Food Co-op – Wylie Harris
  • Town and Country: Kim Barker’s Grassfed Beef and Lamb – Wylie Harris
  • Balancing Trade for a Balanced Diet: Oklahoma’s Farm Exports and Food Imports – Wylie Harris
  • Growing What We Eat? – Mary Penick & Maura McDermott
  • Importing Oklahoma’s State Meal – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: Food Imports and Exports
  • From Horn of Plenty to Plenty of Horns: Crop and Livestock Diversity on Oklahoma Farms – Wylie Harris & Mary Penick
  • Land of Opportunity: Steve Upson’s Vision for Oklahoma Farms – Wylie Harris
  • Snapshot: Carter County
  • Just Right in the Middle: Sam’s Sweet Onions as a Model for Diversification – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: Farm Diversification
  • Local Food, Local Prosperity: Local Farm Sales and Community Food Security – Wylie Harris
  • Cool Peach of an Idea: Regrowing a Local Specialty at Peach Crest Farm – Wylie Harris
  • The Buyer’s-Eye View – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: Local Marketing
  • LOVAs for LIFE: Value Added Processing and Community Food Security – Wylie Harris
  • Adding Value to the Country: Oklahoma’s Rural Food Processors – Wylie Harris
  • Snapshot: Cleveland County
  • Snapshot: Kiowa County
  • Snapshot: Kingfisher County
  • Public Policy Priorities: Locally-Owned Value-Added (LOVA) Processing
  • Demand for Health: Community Food Security Surfs the Wave of Value Added Food Labeling – Wylie Harris
  • Spirit in the Dust: Organic Wheat and Natural Beef at John’s Farm  – Wylie Harris
  • Public Policy Priorities: Food Labels
  • Snapshot: Major County
  • SPARC-ing Change on the Plains: Soil, Health, and Sustainable Wheat  – Wylie Harris
  • Farmland Preservation in Oklahoma – Mary Penick & Wylie Harris
  • Farming the Family Way: Conrad Farms – Mary Penick
  • Snapshot: Tulsa County
  • Public Policy Priorities: Saving Farmland: Urban Sprawl and Family Farms

Closer to Home

Editor, Researcher, Writer: Maura McDermott

Lead Researcher and Writer: Wylie Harris

Researcher/Writer: Doug Walton

Researcher/Writer/Maps: Mary Penick

Contributing Writers:
Emily Oakley, Mike Appel, Robert Waldrop, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Shaun Chavis

Policy Priorities: Maura McDermott, James E. Horne, Wylie Harris, Doug Walton

Layout, Design, Production: Tracy Clark, Argus DesignWorks

Closer to Home
was funded by a grant from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, Community
Foods Projects Program Grant # 2004-33800-1514

Community Foods Grant Principal Investigator: James E. Horne, Ph.D.

Oklahoma Food System Assessment and Report Project Manager: Maura McDermott