Production Terms //
Husbandry Terms //
Modified Organisms (GMOs): GMOs
are plants and animals that have had their genetic make-up altered
in the laboratory to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.
For example, tomato plants can be genetically altered so that the
tomatoes will store longer. In general, genes are taken (copied)
from one organism with a desired trait and transferred into the
genetic code of another organism. Genetic modification is currently
allowed in conventional farming in the United States.
grown food: Food
grown near the point of its consumption. There is no standard
definition for "local" when it comes to food -- a particular
definition of "local" might be based upon county, state, region,
watershed, or another boundary. Ideally, local food means the buyer
can meet the farmer or food maker and find out details about how
the food was raised, and that the crops and livestock are unique to
a certain area.
agriculture is a system that utilizes an understanding of natural
processes along with the latest scientific advances to create
integrated, resource-conserving farming systems. These systems will
reduce environmental degradation, are economically viable, maintain
a stable rural community, and provide a productive agriculture in
both the short and the long term.
Sustainable cuisine practices:
sustainably and locally grown/raised products.
ingredients that are seasonal and plentiful (not in danger of
product locally, and encouraging local purveyors to provide diverse
products including heirloom varieties and rare breeds.
waste by using all edible parts of a product (i.e. making stock out
of scraps and bones), composting, and recycling.
or "tree-ripened" is a term applied to fruit or vegetables that
have ripened on the vine or tree and then picked when ripe. They
often taste better because their flavor and sugars have developed
naturally. They can be delicate to the touch and too fragile to
ship. Fruits shipped long distances may be picked while still
unripe, and later treated with ethylene gas to "ripen" and soften
them prior to being sold.
PRODUCTION TERMS //
farming uses organic practices (see definition below) such as crop
rotation and composting, with special plant, animal and mineral
preparations. Production practices are done according to the
rhythms found in nature.
to typical farming practices that can include use of synthetic
pesticides and fertilizers, “mono-cropping”, antibiotics and
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A
pest (insect, disease or weeds) management strategy that seeks to
decrease pesticide use. Methods may include using traps to monitor
for insect pests and attracting beneficial insects to control those
pests, removing post harvest field residue and physically scouting
the field. If these measures are not adequate and pest damage
threatens the farm’s economic viability, then the farmer may apply
pesticides in such a way that they pose the least possible
No Spraying/Pesticide-free: Some
farmers may avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides &
fungicides even if they continue to use conventional approaches
such as synthetic fertilizer. "No Spraying" or "Pesticide-free"
indicates that while the farm may not be organic, there are no
toxic sprays applied to the produce. These claims are not verified
by any outside parties. Ask the farmer if anything has been applied
to the surface of the produce if this is a concern for you.
original principles of organic farming are based on the minimal use
of off-farm inputs and on practices that restore, maintain and
enhance ecological harmony. When ecological harmony is achieved,
the need for measures to control pest damage is reduced because the
plants are healthier and do not attract the pests. Organic farming
practices do not ensure that products are free of residues; it
stresses methods to minimize pollution to the air, soil and water
by using products that readily break down in the soil. Organic is a
method used to produce food, not the food product itself.
Certification (Certified Organic): Under
the USDA National Organic Program, all products sold as “organic”
must be certified. Certification involves a farm submitting a
production plan and being inspected annually by a certifying
organization. The process is very similar to quality control
programs used in other industries. The organic certification
process is designed to assure customers that the organic products
they purchase have been produced using appropriate organic
practices, with records that allow traceability.
but not certified: Many
farmers adhere to accepted organic practices but are not certified.
They cannot label their product organic, so they use descriptive
terms such as “organically grown”, “organic methods”, or “organic
but not certified”. By not being certified, there is no guarantee
that the farmer is using the methods defined by the National
Organic Program. To find out more about a farmer’s reason for not
pursuing certification, ask them.
Transitioning to Organic (Transitional): Farmers
need to practice organic production methods for three years on a
given piece of land before the products grown there can be
certified as “organic”. Transitional means that the farmland is in
this transition period, moving towards organic
HUSBANDRY TERMS //
range (or free roaming) implies that a meat or poultry product
comes from an animal that was raised in the open air or was free to
roam. When used on meat poultry products, “free range" is regulated
by the USDA and means that the birds have been given access to the
outdoors but for an undetermined period each day. "Free range"
claims on red meats and eggs are not regulated. Ask the farmer what
practices s/he follows to label their products “free range”.
and Pasture: These
two words are used within the terms Grass-based, Pasture-based,
Grass-fed, Pasture-fed and Pasture-raised. Meat, dairy and eggs
with this label mean that pasture or grassland provided a
significant part of the animals’ life and diet. In raising ruminant
animals (cattle, sheep, bison and goats), "grass-based diet" means
that a majority of their diet is grass, possibly supplemented by
grain and other feed. Hogs and chickens usually do require a grain
supplement to what they are able to consume on pasture. To learn
more about feeding practices, ask the farmer.
Grass finished: The
ruminant animal was allowed to grow to its slaughter weight while
eating grass. Their diet consists of freshly grazed pasture during
the growing season and stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during
the winter months or drought conditions. This process is slower
than “finishing” with grain but produces tender and leaner
No antibiotics: Antibiotics
are given to animals such as cows, hogs and chickens in order to
prevent diseases that run rampant in the cramped conditions that
many food animals are kept in. In the chicken industry, antibiotics
serve much the same function as hormones do in the beef industry:
they act as growth enhancers that make chickens bigger, faster. The
Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 26.6 millions pounds
of antibiotics are used for animals each year, with only 2 million
pounds used to treat sick animals. (These figures are estimates
because farmers can buy many antibiotics without prescriptions.)
When a ranch or product states "no antibiotics," this means that
they do not engage in these practices.
are commonly used in the commercial farming of animals such as
cattle to increase the size of beef cattle or to increase the
production of milk in dairy cattle. Some of these hormones are
natural, some are synthetic, and some are genetically engineered.
About 90 percent of U.S. cattle raised for beef receive growth
hormones at some time during their life. These hormones are added
to feed and implanted under the skin on the back of the ear, where
they provide a steady, small amount of additional hormone. If a
ranch or product states "no hormones," this means that they do not
engage in this practice.
Adapted from CUESA, Michigan Farmers’ Market Association, and the