Farmers Market Slang

After years of frequenting farmers markets, and some inquires from vendors of some of the local markets, I have decided to write about some of the unique slang that has developed in the culture.

Biodynamic: A form of organic farming that emphasizes the relationship between the soil, plants, and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farmers seek to maximize diversity in their farming practices by treating their farm as a unified organism. They avoid the use of artificial chemicals and practice crop rotation, composting, and plant and harvest according to seasonal and lunar rhythms.

Cage-Free Eggs: There is no legal definition of cage-free. Often cage-free hens live in crowded conditions with no access to the outdoors. Seek out local farmers who practice human animal husbandry. Organic eggs from healthy, pastured chickens look and taste very different from the conventional version.

Certified Naturally Grown: Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) products are certified by an independent nonprofit organization (not USDA) as having been produced in approximate accordance with national organic standards, a program involving fewer paperwork requirement and lower certification fees for farmers than the USDA’s National Organic Program.

Community Garden: A community owned and/or operated plot of land that is divided up for individuals or families to grow food. Community Gardens provide an opportunity to grow low cost, nutritious food and can contribute to the local economy by allowing gardeners to sell their produce at Farmer’s Markets.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Consumers buy a share in a local farm or garden, usually paying before the beginning of the season—in return, they receive a weekly supply of fresh, local produce that is harvested throughout the growing season. By paying up-front the shareholder gives the farmer cash to start the season and also takes on some of the risks associated with farming (hail, drought, etc.).

Conventional: Refers to standard agricultural practices that are widespread in the industry. Can (but does not necessarily) include the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, mono-cropping, antibiotics, hormones, and other chemical approaches. Conventional farming in the U.S. may also include the use of GMOs.

Farmer’s Market: Refers to an open-air market where farmer’s sell their produce directly to consumers.

A farmers’ market is a physical retail market featuring foods sold directly by farmers to consumers. – Wikipedia

Farmstead Cheese: Farmstead cheeses are made by the same people who farm the animals producing the milk.

Farm-To-Table: Signifies that the food on the table came directly from a specific farm, or a meal prepared and served at the farm where the food was grown. The use of farm-to-table also emphasizes a direct relationship between a farm and a restaurant or store.

Food Shed: The term food shed is similar to the concept of a watershed while watersheds outline the amount and flow of water supplying a particular area, foodsheds outline the flow of food feeding a particular area. Your foodshed encompasses the farm, your table, and everything in between.

Free-Range: USDA regulations apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been “allowed access to the outside.” The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the “outside” or the duration of time an animal has “access to the outside.” Most farmers that you meet at the farmer’s market or through your CSA raise animals that are actually free to roam naturally, but if you want to be certain, you should visit the farm.

GMO (Genetically Modified Organism): GMOs are plants and animals whose genetic make-up has been altered to exhibit traits that they would not normally have, like longer shelf-life, different color, or resistance to certain chemicals. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism. Genetic modification is currently allowed in conventional farming.

Gleaning: To gather food left behind after the harvest. Sometimes farmers invite people to their farms to glean for free food or to donate food to food banks.

Grass-Fed: Refers to livestock, especially cattle or sheep, that have been fed grass instead of corn or soy (grains). Grain is commonly fed because the cattle or sheep fatten more quickly, but grain creates abnormal acidity in their digestive system, which negatively effects their overall health. Meat and milk from 100% grass-fed animals have a healthy ratio of omega 3-6-9′s and a higher amount of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA, a fatty acid that has health-promoting properties).

Heirloom: Heirloom crop varieties, also called farmer’s varieties or traditional varieties, have been developed by farmers through generations. Generally speaking, heirlooms are varieties that have been in existence for a minimum of fifty years.

Heritage: A term applied to breeds of livestock that were bred over time to be well-adapted to local environmental conditions, withstand disease, and survive in harsh environmental conditions. Heritage breeds generally have slow growth rates and long productive lifespans outdoors, making them well-suited for grazing and pasturing.

In apple pie order: in top shape.

Like a thoroughbred: like a gentleman.

Local Food System: When all aspects of the production, distribution, storage, consumption, and sale of food are operated, managed, and owned by the community it serves. This is part of the broader sustainable food movement.

Locavore: A person who is interested in eating food that is regionally produced as part of the collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies.

Natural: USDA guidelines state that all “natural” meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. The claim “natural” is otherwise unregulated. In many cases, it means nothing.

No Anitibiotics: Antibiotics are given to animals such as cows, hogs, sheep, and chickens to prevent or manage diseases. “No antibiotics,” implies that a farmer does not administer antibiotics to his/her animals.

No Hormones: Hormones are commonly used in the commercial farming of animals such as cattle to speed the growth rate or increase milk production. Some of these hormones are natural, some are synthetic, and some are genetically engineered. If a ranch or product professes “no hormones,” this means that they do not engage in these practices. Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry.

Organically Grown: Food grown without synthetic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers or other synthetic or toxic substances. Organic food does not include foods that have been irradiated or genetically modified.

Pastured: There are no regulations as to what this defines. If a farmer states their animals are pastured, the animals should spend time living on pasture as opposed to just having “access” to pasture. Time that an animal can actually live on pasture will vary regionally based on weather and length of growing season. To know for sure, ask the farmer and visit the farm.

Producer Only: markets and that their vendors grow all of the products sold. (no re-selling)

Raw Foodism: The practice of consuming uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet.

Seed Saving: The practice of collecting seeds in order to preserve the genetic diversity of our agricultural heritage that is now threatened by agricultural seed monopolies.

Slow Food: An international movement that began in Italy as a reaction to the fast food industry. The Slow Food movement seeks to preserve the culture of food by education consumers about the seasonality of foods and which foods grown in their region, by connecting consumers to farmers, and by celebrating high quality food with others. There are Slow Food Chapters all over the world that celebrate good, clean, fair food.

Sulphured/Unsulphured: Many dried fruits are sulfured with sulfur dioxide (SO), or meta bisulfate to keep them from oxidizing during and after the drying process. This preserves their original color and acts as a preservative. Unsulfured fruits are often dark in color.

Sustainable Agriculture: Farming that is socially just, humane, economically viable, and environmentally sound.

Transitional: Farmers must practice organic methods for three years on a given piece of land before the products harvested from that land can be sold or labeled organic. “Transitional” is an unofficial term that refers to farmland that is in a transition period towards organic certification.

Up the spout : gone to waste/ruin.

Urban Agriculture: The practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in an urban, rather than rural, environment. Urban farming is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system. For example, large gardens (mini farms) are being grown on rooftops in large cities. Vacant lots are being used for agricultural purposes.

Vegan: Foods with this label contain no animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, or honey.

Wet Market: fresh food market in Asian country.

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