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The Good Food News of 2011

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Breaking The Chains page, All About Organics page, and our Organic Transitions page.
2011 was a big year for food politics. In case you dozed off anywhere along the way, I've collected the year's most important stories below. (Want something lighter? See my Sustainable Food Trends story from last week. Want something heavier? Stay tuned for the bad food news, coming soon.)

1. Urban farming is flourishing.

While the renewed interest in growing food within city limits is nothing new, 2011 was the year urban farming went legit.

Despite several low points involving criminal charges for gardeners in Michigan and Tennessee (charges were dropped in both cases after word spread around the internet and people from across the country petitioned lawmakers), the year was full of highlights. In San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore, city officials changed local laws to make it easier to farm. Meanwhile, New Yorkers celebrated the first year of legal beekeeping. And creative, scrappy projects like the Boston Tree Party and Detroit's Growing Joy Community Garden flourished.

Meanwhile, corporate interests are also keying into the possibilities of urban agriculture. We heard from a vertical farming expert on the subject.

2. Young farmers make noise.

young farmersPhoto: Eddie CrimminsMore and more young Americans are taking to the farm, a trend that's continued to grow this year. They're getting creative -- returning to using draft horses, for example. And they're getting political -- the National Young Farmers' Coalition has put together an agenda for the upcoming 2012 farm bill, pushing for easier to access land and loans. LGBT farmers (young and otherwise) are also changing the face of farming.

3. Local food isn't just delicious and eco-friendly.

2011 presented us with even more evidence that local food systems don't just taste good and feel good; they also build local economies. More farmers markets mean more jobs, overall.

4. Food Day makes a comeback.

Although the organizers called this year's national event the first annual Food Day, there had apparently been another attempt in the 1970s. Let's hope this versions sticks. Check out our slideshow.
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