Locally Grown Associate Professor on 'Eco Crusade'

“We’re not an agricultural school, and I’d like to see more awareness of local food production.”

Chad Settle is helping to spread sustainable practices throughout The University of Tulsa and Green Country through locally grown food campaigns.

The associate professor of economics is not the only faculty advisor for Earth Matters - a student organization that has held educational outreach programs about farmers markets and film night about alternative energies on TU’s campus – but is also a founding member of Sustainable Green Country. In addition, this eco hero is on a crusade to encourage the use of local foods through the Buy Fresh Buy Local Green Country program.

“We’re not an agricultural school, and I’d like to see more awareness of local food production,” Settle said “if we can get TU interested in this – not to be farmers but just maybe simply to grow vegetables in the backyard and buy locally grown groceries – we can alleviate some of the food production problems.”

Buy Fresh Buy Local Green Country is the first regional chapter of the program, which is run by Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and coordinated by Sustainable Green Country. The group also works with national organization Food Routes.

“Buy Fresh Buy Local Green Country is a community effort that is supported by several partners. It wouldn’t be possible without the financial support and volunteer hours we’ve received from the community,” Settle said.

The main objective of the organization is to strengthen the local food economy. The campaign centers around Oklahoma producers – processed foods, farmers markets, restaurants and local food markets – that use or highlight Oklahoma-grown foods. Producers can become a member of Buy Fresh Buy Local Green Country, which gives them the opportunity to use their promotional material, as well as create networks with other producers.

Another major focus is publishing an annual food guide, letting everyday consumers know where farmers markets are located, as well as their hours, Web sites and contacts. The same is done for farmers so that they can contact individual farmers directly.

This is the second year the program has been in Green Country, and it has expanded to include markets in eight different counties.

“Buying locally grown and produced food is a wonderful way to stimulate the local economy,” Settle said. “We’re able to keep more food dollars in the state. Many of the foods we currently consume travel 1,500 miles or more before they get to our dinner plates. Not to mention that the price of food will continue to increase. But if we move away from a food system based on cheap energy and cheap transportation, it will be more economically viable in the long term.”

Settle has involved TU students with his efforts. He is educating them about the benefits of buying local, and they have eagerly volunteered to help him get the word out to northeastern Oklahoma.

“Educating students about the various problems that we will soon face with food production and increasing awareness is vital, as well as letting them know what they can do to make a difference,” Settle said.

tu threeEconomics is the study of how societies decide to and do use finite resources in an attempt to satisfy demand for goods and services. This entails the study of resources, production, distribution, and demand by various sectors including consumers, businesses, government, and foreign entities. Understanding economics from a variety of theoretical perspectives is critical to understanding the world in which we live.