Glossary

Food labels and lingo are aplenty, so here’s a quick and easy glossary for some of the terms and labels you might see us talking about or in the store. As always, if you have any questions or need help, please get in touch!

Eating locally can benefit the environment, boost freshness and flavor and support the rich network of farms in our region. Our co-op labels foods local when they are produced within 400 miles. Foods significantly processed by locally owned businesses also qualify. For example, coffee isn’t grown in New York, but Gimme Coffee roasts all their beans in Ithaca, NY.

This certification is a trading partnership that aims to reduce poverty and empower farmers in developing countries by grouping disadvantaged producers into co-ops and/or unions. The Fair Trade movement and community promotes social justice, sound environmental practices and economic security for the producers’ communities.

Runimants are animals (like cows and sheep!) that were made for digesting grasses and plants; that’s why grass fed meats are often so delicious - they are more in harmony with nature! Animals eat a diet of dry grasses (hay or grass silage) during the winter months and in droughts. Standfast Farm in Forestville is our local grass fed beef supplier.

Diet or foods that exclude wheat gluten, which is found naturally in all wheat varieties and subsequent products. Many grains contain gluten including spelt, wheat, rye, barley and others. The term is not regulated in the US; products are labeled gluten-free voluntarily by manufacturers to assist people with sensitivities or allergies to gluten.

Diet or foods that are solely plant based. Vegan foods cannot contain meat, eggs, dairy or animal byproducts.

Diet or foods that do not contain meats or fish. There are many variations of vegetarianism, but generally a vegetarian diet can include dairy, eggs, and some animal byproducts.

recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone - rBGH (recombinant Bovine Somatotropin, or rBST) is the generic term for a genetically engineered, synthetic drug produced by the Monsanto Corporation. rBGH is injected into dairy cows to increase milk production by 5 to 15 percent. Approved by the FDA, it is banned in Canada, Japan, Australia and all 25 countries of the European Union. Organic dairy excludes the use of rBGH.

This seal identifies products that follow Best Practices for genetically modified organism (GMO) avoidance according to the Non-GMO Project. This third-party verification program was created to offer consumers a consistent non-GMO choice for organic and natural products that are produced without genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technologies. Read more about the project here.

Generally, these terms mean that the product was made by hand with great care and high-quality ingredients. They are most frequently applied to items like bread, chocolate, cheese, vinegars and jam

This method of farming is rooted in a holistic understanding of nature. It involves treating the farm and the soil as living organisms that need to be nourished and replenished, as well as used for their resources.

Cage-free birds live in large houses in flocks of several thousand. While they might never go outside, they are able to walk around, spread their wings, and lay eggs in nests. There is no regulated definition of this term.

Products that are created via standard practices accepted by the agriculture industry are often called “conventional.” This isn’t an official term, but it implies that the product did not undergo any special production or certification processes, meaning it may include pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified traits. It may also have been produced with agribusiness practices like use of synthetic fertilizers and monoculture cultivation (in which land is used exclusively for the constant cultivation of a single crop—a practice that leaves soil depleted of nutrients and often requires synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and/or genetically modified crops for continued use).

The USDA definition of this term applies only to poultry meat (not eggs) and suggests that animals were raised in an unconfined environment. However, the USDA’s requirement that chickens “must be allowed access to the outside” is somewhat vague and does not include any minimum amount of time for outdoor access. “Free-range” labels on beef, pork, and eggs are not regulated.

To make crops more suitable for industrial farming, many seed companies modify their genetic makeup by implanting traits from other organisms (often across species). The resulting crops offer more durability, volume, and other desirable traits, but there is concern over their safety, both for humans and the environment.

Heirloom, or heritage, species are seeds and livestock breeds that have been cultivated over generations. There is no official definition, but it is widely agreed that seeds are naturally pollinated, and a strict interpretation of the term requires that the species be at least fifty years old and not commercially cultivated on an industrial scale.

Humane treatment of animals does not have a legal definition. However, the Certified Humane Raised and Handled program’s “Certified Humane” label indicates that the meat comes from animals that were able to engage in natural behavior, given ample space, and provided clean water and a healthy diet free of antibiotics and hormones.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A method of pest management intended to cause the least possible harm to the environment by using pesticides only when other, more natural methods have failed. In such cases, pesticides are applied only in a manner determined to have the least possible negative impact.

This term is defined by the USDA only for meat products, which should be only minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients or added colors. As defined, the term is broad enough to cover most meats. The label may be added to products at the meat manufacturer’s discretion—the USDA does not investigate every claim. On produce and packaged food labels, “natural” is a marketing term, suggesting that the product was created without the use of artificial ingredients. However, because the term is not regulated or verified by a third-party certifier for these products, shoppers should be wary of the claim.

Industrial meat companies often add antibiotics to animals’ food to prevent disease caused by cramped and unsanitary conditions, a practice that is raising concern about the emergence of antibiotic-resistant illnesses in people. The USDA allows the label “no antibiotics added” or “raised without antibiotics” on meat or poultry products. The use of these terms is not verified by third party certifiers and is largely based on information given by the producers themselves. The term “antibiotic free” is not defined or approved by the USDA.
No Hormones: Industrial meat companies use hormones to promote growth and milk production in cattle. The USDA regulates the label “no hormones administered” on beef, and federal law does not allow hormones in raising hogs or poultry.

Crops and animals raised organically have not been exposed to synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, genetic modification, growth hormones, or antibiotics. All products labeled “Certified Organic” have been certified by the USDA. Some farmers classify themselves as “uncertified organic,” meaning they follow organic practices but have not gone through the process and cost to be certified by the USDA.

Pasteurization is the process of heating foods to kill pathogenic bacteria. The USDA regulates the use of this word in food labeling and requires certain foods to be pasteurized.

Homogenization, when it refers to milk, is a mechanical process that breaks down the fat globules so that they are uniform in size and distributed evenly throughout the milk. Some milks are pasteurized, but not homogenized—that’s why they have a “plug” of cream at the top.

Labels of “pesticide-free” and “no spraying” indicate that the crops were grown on a farm that is not necessarily organic, but does not apply toxic sprays to produce.

Cow’s milk that is not processed or pasteurized before being bottled for consumption. Raw milk can only be purchased on the farm where it is produced, retail sale is illegal in New York State. Cheese made from this type of milk is required to be aged as a safety precaution. Proponents claim that raw milk has remarkable health benefits.

This term has no standard definition, but it is generally used to describe food production that does not deplete nonrenewable resources (like petroleum) and is mindful of the well-being of animals, workers, the environment, and the local community. Sustainable agriculture aims to leave the land in the same or better condition than it was found, encouraging a mutually beneficial relationship between the land and its occupants.