(adopted from Lexicon of Sustainability)



A scientific discipline that employs ecological theory to study, design and manage agricultural systems. It is concerned with the maintenance of a productive agriculture that sustains yields, optimizes the use of local resources and minimizes the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern technologies.


Seafood tastes of the water it comes from. Formula for Term: terroir¹-terre²+agua³ = aguoir (terroir¹= a French term expressing the idea that food tastes of its place. terre²=soil (French) agua³=water (Spanish))


Replant every year


Apiculture is the process of raising bees to make honey and serve as pollinators for food crops.


Aquaculture (fish farming) + hydroponics (growing plants in nutrient-enriched water instead of soil).  GP raises about 100,000 fish per year. These include tilapia, a warm-water fish native to Africa, and lake perch, a cool-water fish native to North America.

Artificial Fertilizers

Minerals that are produced through chemical processes to nurture the soil and aid in the growth of one or more plants.


Backyard Pollinators

Each year the Ballard Bee Company gathers over four thousand pounds of locally produced honey from a hundred hives placed on rooftops and in backyards (like Ellitot’s) throughout the Seattle area.

Battery Cages

Industrial agriculture’s confinement system used for egg-laying hens. Floor space for battery cages ranges from 300 cm² per bird and up; the space allocated to battery hens has often been described as less than the size of a piece of paper. A typical cage is about the size of a filing cabinet drawer and holds from 8 to 10 hens. Animal welfare scientists have criticized battery cages because they do not provide hens with sufficient space to stand, walk, flap their wings, perch, or make a nest.  It is estimated that over 60% of the world’s eggs are produced in such industrial systems.


An integrated self-regulating, multi-layered food-web that requires little maintenance and no pesticides.


weeds + trees + crops + critters + soil = An integrated food web allowing biota to self-regulate = (no pesticides needed)An integrated self-regulating, multi-layered food-web that requires little maintenance and no pesticides.

Biological Soil Crusts

A community of organisms and their by-products which live at the surface of desert soils. Principle components are cyanobacteria, green algae, microfungi, mosses, liverworts and lichens.


Any biological material applied to the soil which enhances metabolic or physiological processes and aids in plant growth and development.

Broiler House

Buildings with little ventilation that serve as concentrated feed lots capable of holding up to ten thousand chickens at a time.


Cage Free

Chickens that are not kept in cages. This means chickens are still confined to a barn with limited or no access to outside. The term “barn-roaming” more accurately describes this principle.

Carbon Farming

The goal behind agricultural carbon removal is to use a crop and its relation to the carbon cycle to permanently sequester carbon within the soil. This is achieved by choosing farming methods that return biomass to the soil and and foster conditions which will allow it to be stored in a stable state.

Carbon Sequestration

The long-term capture and storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon in the soil using agricultural methods, with the purpose of mitigating or deferring global warming.

Cattle Rotation

Also known as rotational grazing, involves dividing a given range into several pastures and then grazing each in a certain sequence. This improves livestock distribution while allowing a rest period for new forage.

Chicken Tractor

A movable chicken coop with no floor which allows for chickens to graze on new pastures while still providing shelter.

Colony Collapse Disorder

A disease which causes bees to disappear from their hives.  While it is still unknown whether CCD is caused by a fungus, parasitic mite, or changes in their food supply, it has affected a third of all bees in the United States.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

The delivery of fresh vegetable from farms, can be local and also far from you, to your home.
Buying a CSA membership means entering into partnership with a local farmer. The member buys a subscription at the beginning of the season. This cash infusion allows the farmer to pay for seed, water, equipment and labor in the early season when farm expenses are high and farm income is low. In return the farm provides its members with a box of fresh picked seasonal produce each week. CSAs build community by reconnecting its members to the seasons and fostering relationships between members and the people who grow their food.
Communities invest in their local food systems
Consumers can buy shares to support local farms like Anne Cure’s in Boulder, Colorado. In return they receive weekly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Such arrangements connect consumers with the people who grow their food while strengthening local food systems.
How it works
1. CSA subscribers chose between three box sizes
2. They directly engage farmers who can share the stories behind everything grown on the farm.
3. CSA members are free to create their own boxes, to choose their own produce.
4. If CSA members don’t like an item in their box (beets for example) they can exchange it for something else he

Compost Tea

A liquid solution obtained by steeping compost in water.  It is used as a fertilizer to help prevent plant diseases.

Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO)

An animal feeding operation that confines animals for more than 45 days during a growing season in an area that does not produce vegetation. CAFOs substitute structures and equipment (with regards to feeding, temperature controls and manure management) for land and labor. The United States EPA has created three categories of CAFOs in terms of their capacity: large, medium and small. The corresponding animal unit for each of these categories depends on the species of animal.

Conjugated Linoleic Acids

A family of at least 28 isomers of linoleic acid found primarily in the meat and dairy products derived from ruminants. CLAs are considered to have anti-cancer properties.

Contour Cropping

Contour cropping is an erosion friendly way of planting crops on hilly terrain.


An association of persons united voluntarily with the purpose of meeting common economic, social, and/or cultural needs through jointly owned and democratically controlled endeavors. A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who utilize its services and/or by the people who work there.

Cover Cropping

A method of land management used to prevent soil erosion and replenish the soil with nutrients.


Dirty Dozen

Pesticide residue from conventionally grown produce does not entirely wash off under the tap at home. The Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 most contaminated foods that should be avoided by buying organic. Doing so will substantially lower your pesticide intake. They are: Apples, Celery, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines (imported), Grapes (imported), Sweet bell peppers, Potatoes, Blueberries (domestic), Lettuce, and Kale/collard greens. This list is compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) whose mission is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.



The gathering of communities to share a home cooked meal.

Eating Down The Food Chain

Fish atop the food chain (tuna, swordfish, sharks, etc.) are BIO-ACCUMULATORS; they may have high levels of heavy metals like mercury in their systems (it takes 30lbs of “keystone species” like sardines to make 1lb of tuna). Including keystone species in our diet would result in ingesting less heavy metals and a reduction in the over fishing of larger species. Over 40% of the protein fished from the world’s oceans are keystone species. They are used to feed pigs and chickens (and even farmed fish). By shifting our eating habits we can turn these fish into a healthier protein source.

Eating In Season

Wild edibles grow everywhere. You need to be aware of what’s around you. When you spend time outside, see how things change throughout the year.

Edible Education By Alice Waters: Five Principles

Ecology and gastronomy bring alive every subject from reading and writing to science and art.
Good food is a right not a privilege. It brings children into a positive relationship with their health, community and environment.
Cafeterias buy fresh food from local farms, not only for reasons of health but to strengthen local food economies.
Children work in the vegetable beds and on the cutting boards to awaken their senses and open their minds, both to their core academic subjects and to the world around them.
A beautifully prepared environment, where deliberate thought has gone into everything from the paths to the plates on the tables, communicates to children that we care about them.


The loss of topsoil caused by bad land management practices.


Fallen Fruit

People search their cities and neighborhoods for unused or unwanted things: litter, refuse…even food. Fallen fruit is often overlooked (either after its fallen to the ground or while still on the tree). It can be harvested, gleaned, or just observed.

Farm Fairies

Individuals who structure creative financial agreements which allow farmers to purchase land, set down permanent roots, and do what they love instead of being priced out of the land market by speculators.

Farming for a Better Climate (FBC)

A plan to help cut greenhouse gas emissions from across the agricultural sector funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). It offers advice of cost-effective ways to benefit business and the environment.

Farm To Table

Closing The Loop.
When communities pay closer attention to where our food is grown and how it reaches our table, and people re-discover the “localness” of all that’s around them, food suddenly has a sense of place.  Farms and restaurants build close relationships, strengthening their local economies and forging new cultural identities for their communities … all based on food.

Food Democracy

“The right of all people to an adequate, safe, nutritious, sustainable food supply.”- Food Democracy Vandana Shiva.
Emphasizes social justice within the food system and is based upon the doctrine that citizens have the power to determine food policies locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Food Democracy upholds the idea that it is a right and responsibility of citizens everywhere to participate in decisions concerning their food system. In challenging the corporate food structure the goal is to ensure that all citizens have access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate foods.

Food Desert

Places where supermarkets are nonexistent, leaving residents to subsist on food  found at corner stores, gas stations, liquor stores and fast food restaurants.  Food deserts predominate in low income urban communities.

Food Forest

The implementation/ mix of fruit and nut trees with bushes, shrubs and vegetable plants which are planted in a way that mimic woodland ecosystems.

Food Justice

The belief that good healthy food should be natural right worth fighting for and can be achieved through the restructuring of the social, agricultural, environmental and economic spheres.

Food Literacy

Consumers that learn about food production and agricultural practices can determine which systems to support and which to shun.

Food Miles

The distance food travels from the field to your table.


The philosophy/ practice of connecting people back to their food systems through working in the social and environmental spheres.

Food Security

“Having consistent year round access to safe, local, affordable and culturally appropriate food that is grown, raised, produced and moved about in manners that are responsible to the environment while reflecting a consumption of natural resources that is equitable with a view to our offspring seven generations from now.” – Erika Allen


The art of finding and enjoying wild food.


“Professional foragers travel between Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, Saskatehewan, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California. Foraging is fun, adventurous, healthy, rewarding and romantic…it’s an activity that connects you viscerally to nature, it requires respect yet imparts knowledge.” -Tyler Gray

Free Range

Outside the United States this term refers to a method of farming where the animals are allowed to roam freely rather than being contained in any manner. In the United States, USDA regulations apply only to poultry and indicate solely that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. These regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time the animal must be allowed access to this space.


Genetically Engineered Food/Frankenfood

Foods that are derived from genetically modified organisms. Organisms that have been genetically modified have had specific changed introduced into their DNA through genetic engineering techniques.

Grass Fed

Livestock that forage freely on grass and legume pastures as oppose to being fed corn and grains in confined feedlots.

Green Collar/Cuello Verde

Workers retrained to work in agriculture = “reconvertido profesionalmente en la agricultura”


Enthusiastic young farmers (often novice and experienced) who are committed to becoming vital contributors at their local foodsheds.

Growth Promotant

A small pellet that is implanted under the skin on the back of an animal’s ear. The pellet releases amounts of hormone and then dissolves when the treatment is finished. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a “withdrawal” period between when the animal is treated and when it can go to a meat packing plant.


Similar to companion planting, where plants of different species are planted together in symbiotic groups, providing nutrients, pest protection and shade to eachother.



Open pollinated seeds saved and passed from one generation to the next.

Heirloom Seeds

Seeds that produce food not able to survive mass production.  These seeds tend to be open pollinated with fruits that are often propagated through cuttings.

Heirloom Varieties

A garden crop that has a traceable lineage. Some would say a true heirloom needs to be at least 50 years old, but all agree that they are unique vegetable and plant varieties which are genetically distinct from the commercial varieties that have been propagated by industrial agriculture. Growing these varieties ensure their genetic preservation.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Means any group of corn syrups that have undergone enzymatic processing in order to convert a portion of its glucose into fructose and produce a desired sweetness.


The finished product of composting vegetative matter; it can have stable or unstable colloids which release nutrients in a constant flow when needed to the plants.


Artificial, controlled pollination developed for large scale agriculture.


Intensive Tillage

Turning soil causes its bacteria populations to explode. This decomposes organic matter in the soil which in turn leaches C02 into the atmosphere.


Is the exposure of materials to radiation. Food irradiation is the exposing of food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that may be present in the food. Other applications include delay of ripening, sprout inhibition, increase of juice yield and re-hydration improvement.


Kitchen Incubator

Helps entrepreneurs launch, grow and formalize food businesses which can provide real asset generation for their families.



The principle that a given entity belongs or relates to a particular area.

Local Food Shed

A geographic area where food is grown and consumed; it also accounts for population density, land quality and available distribution routes.


The practice of being conscious of the impact your food miles and limiting yourself to a 100mile radius where you buy local and grow your own food.

Low Carbon Diet

The way food is grown, transported and prepared affects the amount of pollution produced.  This includes airborne pollutants as well as green house gases released into waterways and soil systems.  A low carbon diet involves consuming llocally grown and harvested food.


Maximum Sustained Yield

Measuring the harvest and escapement numbers of specific species assists Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game in their deployment of a viable fishery management strategy, one that considers time, area and gear type for catching different fish. The goal? Provide for optimal harvests while sustaining each salmon species.


A greenhouse gas produced by cow flatulence and defecation which pollutes the environment.

Methane Digester

A system which captures naturally occurring gas from cow manure and converts it into electricity.
What the digester does in (30-40 days)
1. saves money by generating 300,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year
2. eliminates a greenhouse gas 23 times more damaging than CO₂
3. converts nitrogen into a more usable form for plants
4. cuts down on the odor and flies around the farm
How it works
1. barn slurry, silage runoff, and creamery waste flow into the slurry pit¹
2. this mixture is pumped into a device² which separates the manure’s solids and liquids
3. the liquid flows by gravity into the digester pond³
4. anaerobic digestion = bacteria digest the waste and give off methane gas
5.  the methane gas fuels a generator that offsets the farm’s energy use by 90%
6. heat captured from the engine makes hot water used to wash equipment in the milking barn

Mob Stocking

Confining livestock to a particular area so that it may be intensively grazed.


growing a single crop over a vast amount of land increases the risk of fungus, disease and specialized predators, which conventional farming combats with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. = Industrial Agriculture.


The use of biodegradable material to combat weeds and improve the soil’s workability, tilth, and fertility.


Naturally Raised

Livestock which was raised without the use of growth promtants, antibiotics, under these certified animals are allowed to have parasitic medicine, but not given food with animal byproducts to eat.

Natural Systems Agriculture

 Agriculture based off of bio-mimicry, mimicking nature in order to get optimum efficiency when growing food.

Nitrogen Fixation

The process of using rhizome bacteria to transform nitrogen in the atmosphere into readily made nitrates that plants can uptake.



Farming using natural systems and inputs with a view toward a sustainable future.

Organic Dairy

Through organic ranching practices, farmers ensure their cows are free of pesticide residues, growth hormones and antibiotics (like rBGH and rBST) meaning their milk is free of these contaminants as well. Bovine growth hormone has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers.

Organic Pest Management

Organic Pest Management works on the basis of prevention, the gardener must prepare the environment to be diverse and a healthy soil life in order to rear plants immune to pestilence, if pests do become a problem; one follows the following systems; Cultural Controls, Physical Controls and Biological Controls.


Pasture Raised

Animals that have been raised on pasture with access to shelter. This term is being used by farmers who wish to distinguish themselves from the industrialized “free-range” term.


Plant once.


= permanent – “nent” + culture (as in cultivate)

Processed Food

Any food other than a raw agricultural commodity including any raw agricultural commodity that has been either canned, cooked, frozen, dehydrated, or milled. As an extension, processed food is also used to infer convenience food, which is commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption. Such foods have been criticized for being full of saturated fats, sodium, and sugar and for providing little to no nutritional value. (In addition their artificial additives can produce food allergies, weight gain, and cause cancer.)


Rainwater Harvesting

Harvesting rainwater for drinking and agricultural use.

Raw Honey

Honey that is unpasteurized and unprocessed.


Bovine somatotropin (BST or BGH) is a chain of amino acids produced by a cow’s pituitary gland. As with other hormones, it is produced in small quantities and is used in regulating metabolic processes. Since 1994 it has been synthesized by using recombinant DNA technology to create recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). The United States is the only developed nation to permit humans to drink milk from cows that have been treated with this artificial growth hormone. It was banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all European Union countries by 2000 or earlier.


The ability to keep going even when things around you are going wrong.

Riparian Buffer

An area of vegetation, usually forested, near a stream that helps to shade and protect it from the impact of nearby land uses. It plays an essential role in increasing water quality in streams, rivers and lakes.  Conventional agricultural production has led to the decline of many ecosystems and as a result, riparian buffers have become a common conservation practice aimed at increasing water quality and reducing pollution.

Roof Top Farm

Adds environmentally beneficial green space to cities and increases the local food supply by creating a self-sustaining ecosystem (in this case on a roof).


Slow Money

Inspired by the Slow Food movement, financial investors who invest their resources in local and organic options run by small farmers & small business owners. 

Small Farms

Small, organic farms like Rick Knoll’s are able to eliminate their reliance on petrochemical-based fertilizers and pesticides.  The results are fewer pollutants, less environmental degradation, and cleaner air.  And by using cover cropping and other soil fertilization principles they are able to sequester carbon and keep topsoil—which is carbon heavy—from being lost into the atmosphere, which also contributes to climate change.


Respect Mother Earth. Respect the land. Learn from the animals. When foraging always leave something behind for whoever comes next. In this way you’re sure to find something when you come back.


The 100 Mile Diet

A common unit of measure used to denote the maximum distance food can travel and still remain local to the consumer.


Urban Apiary

Beekeeping in an urban environment.


Veggie Libel Law (Aka “Food Disparagement Law”)

13 states⁺ have passed laws to criminalize any behavior which may endanger the profits of a food company (this includes defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures).  (Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.  12 of these states’ statutes are civil; it is criminal in Colorado.)
Robyby Kenner (maker of the film 'Food Inc.") says the food industry has little interest in letting us nknow where our food comes from and what's in it. His biggest shock came during a Congressional hearing on whether cloned meat should be labeled.  When the industry rep said “I don’t think it is in the interest of the consumers to be given this kind of information…it would just be too confusing,” it became all too clear the extent to which information about what we eat is off limits. (Was this why Robby make “Food, Inc.”?) Robby was curious to know where our food comes from and how we can feed the world in a more sustainable way.


Red wiggler worms enrich + remediate soil with their castings. This worm poop is the best organic fertilizer available. Worms can even decontaminate soil: the beneficial bacteria in their gut breaks down heavy organic compounds and actually destroys harmful E. coli bacteria.


Weed Control

Instead of herbicides, straw is spread between the rows to eliminate weeds which rob the soil of water and nutrients.

Wildlife Corridor

Natural corridors provide habitat for birds and other predators that eat insects and gophers, thereby helping to maintain an ecological balance on the farm.

Wild Harvest

The foraging of foods which grow in the wild without cultivation or human assistance.