Artisan: This term describes food produced by non-industrial methods and in which tastes and processes, such as fermentation, are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than modified for mass-production. Artisan producers understand and respect the raw materials with which they work, know where these materials come from and what is particularly good about them. They have mastered the craft of their production and have a historical, experiential, intuitive and scientific understanding of what makes the process that they are engaged in successful.
Biodiversity: The genetic diversity or variety of plants and/or animals in an ecosystem. Regarding food and agriculture, biodiversity refers to the amount of genetic diversity within a particular farm or agricultural region. Greater biodiversity within an agricultural area generally leads to healthier soil and improved resilience to diseases and pests. In contrast to biodiversity, monoculture is a lack of genetic diversity in an agricultural area.
Buying Club: Local food purchasing group that shares the costs of purchasing and distribution food among members. May operate on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis.
Certified Organic: To be labeled organic in the United States, all fresh or processed foods must be produced according to the national organic standards and certified by an inspection agency accredited by the USDA. Organic farmers must use only approved materials that will not harm humans, animals or soil life.
Chemical Free: Farms that refrain from using any chemical pesticides, fungicides and other similar agents. Chemical-free farms may or may not have USDA organic certification.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A form of direct marketing where consumers pay for a share of a farm’s harvest at the beginning of the growing season and subsequently receive goods from that farm throughout the season. Consumers share in the risks and benefits inherent to agriculture while providing economic security to the farmers.
Conventional Agriculture: This broad category of farming practices encompasses everything from IPM (see below) to heavy reliance on machinery and chemicals to raise crops and livestock.
Cultured/Fermented Foods: that have been broken down into simpler forms by yeasts, bacteria or fungi. Fermented foods generally enhance digestive processes and have a longer shelf-life than non-fermented foods. Examples include yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha.
Fair Trade: Business practices that improve the terms of trade for farmers and artisans by increasing their access to markets and ensuring that they are justly compensated for their products and labor.
Food Hub: A for-profit or not-for-profit business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers for the purpose of strengthening producer capacity and access to wholesale, retail, and institutional markets. Food hubs have positive economic, social and environmental impacts in their communities, and fill a critical gap in regional food systems.
Foodshed: Similar in concept to a watershed, a foodshed outlines the flow of food feeding a particular area.
Free-Range/Free-Roaming: Animals raised in systems where they can move about in an unrestrained manner.
Grass-Fed: Animals that have been raised entirely on grass and are fed little to no grain. This term applies specifically to ruminant animals, such as cows, that are meant to eat grass.
Heirloom Varieties: Plants grown from seeds saved through several generations that have not been artificially genetically modified. Growing heirloom varieties is important to the preservation of genetic diversity in the food supply.
Heritage Breeds: Traditional livestock that have not been altered by the demands of modern industrial agriculture. Heritage breed animals retain their historic characteristics and are raised in a manner that more closely matches the animal’s natural behavior.
Hormone & Antibiotic Free: Animals that have been raised without the use of growth hormones or subtherapeutic (or routine) antibiotics.
Humane: Animal husbandry practices that raise animals under conditions that resemble their natural habitat, including ample outdoor space for movement, a healthy diet and limited-stress environment.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A low-input approach to managing crops, ornamentals and orchards. IPM methods include, but are not limited to: using predatory insects to kill plant-eating pests, employing mechanical pest traps and using chemicals when necessary to avoid losing a crop. Many sustainable farms rely upon IPM as an alternative to the heavy use of pesticides.
Locally Grown: Farm products raised within our regional foodshed, which Fair Food considers to be a radius of approximately 150 miles from Philadelphia.
Pasture-Raised/Pastured: Animals that have never been confined to a feedlot or feeding floor, and have had continuous and unconfined access to pasture throughout their lives.
Raw Milk: Milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Many believe that raw milk contains more beneficial bacteria and enzymes, protein and other nutrients, yet there is also the belief that raw milk carries an increased chance of exposure to harmful microorganisms. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issues raw milk permits, and regulates the operation and sanitation of raw milk bottling facilities in the commonwealth. Twenty-eight states in the U.S. currently allow the sale of raw milk. Another important benefit of raw milk is that direct consumer sales and other viable markets for raw milk dairy farmers bolster their dairy business in an otherwise difficult dairy market.
Seasonality of Food: refers to the times of year when a given type of food is at its peak, either in terms of harvest or flavor. Seasonal foods are typically the freshest, most flavorful, and least expensive on the market.
Sustainable Agriculture: An holistic method of agricultural production and distribution that strives to be ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible for present and future generations. Growing/production methods may include, but are not limited to, organic, IPM, chemical-free and responsible conventional.
Transitional to Organic: USDA Organic Certification, on average, takes about three years of applying certified methods to a farm’s growing or production operations. While working toward a “Certified Organic” status, many farms use the word “transitional” to define their farming practices.
Triple Bottom Line: A business model that gives equal weight to environmental sustainability, social justice and economic success.
Value-Added Products: Farm products that have been processed so as to add value in some fashion. Examples include jam, pickles and yogurt.
Wild Foraged: Refers to the harvest of uncultivated plant-based foods that grow in the wild. Examples from this region include ramps, hen of the woods mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, and paw paws.