Please know that our glossary is a work in progress. We welcome any additions to help broaden our knowledge of the edible world. Feel free to contact us with suggestions!

There is no one acceptable commercial or legal definition for free-range eggs in the United States, according to Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, a Potomac, Maryland-based animal advocacy organization.

Certified Humane

The Certified Humane Raised & Handled Label is a consumer certification and labeling program. When you see the Certified Humane Raised & Handled label it means that an egg, dairy, meat or poultry product has been produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind. Food products that carry the label are certified to have come from facilities that meet precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment. Visit the Certified Humane Website.

Certified Naturally Grown

A grassroots alternative to the USDA’s National Organic Program meant primarily for small farmers distributing through local channels – farmer’s markets, roadside stands, local restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and small local grocery stores – the farmers that make up your local landscape! The standards and growing requirements are no less strict than the USDA National Organic Program rules. The primary difference between Certified Naturally Grown and the USDA Organic program is cost to farmers and paperwork requirements. Visit the Certified Naturally Grown Website.

Certified Organic

The United States Department of Agriculture requires that anyone who produces, processes or handles organic agricultural products must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier in order to sell, label or represent their products as “organic.” To become certified, an organic producer, processor or handler must develop, implement and maintain an organic system plan. There are many certifying organizations across the country, one of which is Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO). PCO can provide information needed to develop an organic system plan. Once an organic system plan is approved, PCO sends a qualified organic inspector to perform an onsite evaluation of the organic operation. Then, based on review of the organic system plan, inspection report and related documents, PCO will determine whether the operation meets the requirements of organic certification. A certified operation must update its organic system plan and be inspected annually. Visit PCO’s Website.

Chemical Free

Part of sustainable agriculture prohibits the use of harmful chemical pesticides. As a practice, chemical free farming aims to restore soil stability and fertility in target locations. Chemical-free agriculture is difficult, especially where land has already been degraded.


A cooperative is a business and is generally distinguished from other types of businesses by its governance and profit distribution. Consumer cooperatives are businesses owned and run by the customers themselves with the goal being improved service rather than improved profits. Members govern the cooperative, usually through a democratic process. Profits generated by the cooperative are returned to the members based upon their use of the cooperative’s services. Agricultural cooperatives involve the pooling of resources by multiple individuals in order to accomplish a shared goal. This often includes the sharing of labor, machinery, and/or land with the objective of increasing positive outcomes for all involved. Visit the Keystone Development Center Website.

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct connection between the farmers and the consumers. To join a CSA is to buy a share of the season’s harvest. The farmer gains the security of knowing he or she has been paid for a portion of the harvest and the farmer’s “community” participates in how and where their food is grown. This direct connection puts the face and place of food in full view. Before the start of the season, when the farmer is planning the upcoming year, shares are sold to members of the community at a fixed price. The farmer plans the plantings to meet the shares that have been sold. Every week throughout the season, the CSA community receives a box of that week’s harvest. Most of the local CSAs will deliver to several convenient area locations, but they always encourage the community to come to the farm, and even to participate in the growing of their food.

Food Alliance Certified

The Food Alliance is a nonprofit organization that certifies farms and ranches and food handlers (including packers, processors and distributors) for sustainable agricultural and business practices. These businesses use Food Alliance certification to make credible claims for social and environmental responsibility, to differentiate and add value to products, and to protect and enhance brands. Certified farmers and ranchers meet stringent standards. With Food Alliance certification, commercial food buyers and consumers can be confident they are supporting farmers, ranchers, and food handlers with a real commitment to environmental stewardship and the health and wellbeing of their customers and communities. Visit The Food Alliance Website.


The total area from which a person’s food is collected is known as a foodshed. As with watersheds the choices individuals make within their zone of influence can have profound impacts throughout their community and region. In order to support local agriculture it is important to purchase as much of your food as possible from within a small, local area. This improves the local economy and guarantees only the freshest products. Visit the Foodshed Alliance website.

Grass-fed/ Pasture-raised

Grass-fed or pasture-raised livestock have had continuous access to pasture throughout their lives and have never been confined to a feedlot where movement is limited. This type of livestock typically spends about 80% or more of their lives with access to fresh forage as the primary energy source. The end product results in leaner meats compared to grain-fed livestock, containing less saturated fat and a higher proportion of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids – ‘good’ fats that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Grass Finished

Animals considered “grass finished” are fed only grass during the period preceding processing. This is distinguished from the industry standard of feeding grain, usually corn, during the same period.


A horticultural variety which has survived anywhere from several generations to thousands of years. Heirlooms are typically maintained by small groups of private individuals to preserve genetic diversity and/or certain characteristics, are not in large scale use and are pollinated openly.

IPM Methods

Integrated Pest Management methods manage insect, disease, and weed problems: Cultural Control, Biological Control, Mechanical Control and Chemical Control. Several of these tactics may be carried on concurrently or implemented at different times to achieve a truly integrated management approach. Visit the EPA website.

License to sell Raw Milk
The sale of liquid raw milk is legal for permitted farms in PA. Raw milk has not been heated above a cow’s highest healthy body temperature which is no more than 101 degrees F (38 degrees C) nor frozen, has not been altered with additives, chemicals, light or homogenization. Although raw milk licensing is currently being deliberated, you can find out more from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.


A locavore is a person who attempts to eat only foods grown as locally as possible. Locavores often grow their own food or buy foodstuffs grown within their region, at farmers markets, for example. The particular radius of what constitutes as local depends on the individual; the Buy Fresh Buy Local team advocates not for state borders or strict numbers, but rather for forming relationships with those who grow our food and opening up dialogue as to where and how different items are grown on a case by case or market by market basis.

Organic (Not Certified)

Organic farming is an approach to agriculture where the aim is to create integrated, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural production system. Reliance is put on locally or farm-derived renewable resources and management of self-regulating ecological and biological processes and interactions. Reliance on external inputs, whether chemical or organic, is reduced as far as possible.

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture means building farms that can sustain healthy soil, produce healthy food and be profitable as well. The farm then becomes a vital economic part of the community, enhancing open space, providing community access to fresh, healthy food, and keeping the money spent on that farm in the community. Methods of sustainable agriculture seek to be environmentally & socially responsible without sacrificing its ability to earn profit. It also strives for harmony with the natural environment, while considering human health as well as societal and economic well-being. Each sustainable farmer produces what works best on their farm so you find that there is a lot more diversity of food products in a community that has these kinds of farms. Visit the PASA website for more information regarding sustainable agriculture in Pennsylvania.

Slow Food
An international movement begun by Carlo Petrini in Italy seeking to preserve cultural cuisine, advocate for the consumption of wholesome, local foods, and to enjoy the food available within a short distance. The movement combats a global food system associated with “fast foods.” Visit the Slow Food USA website.