Have you ever heard of “SOLE” food before? Neither had we, so we rallied our team of real food experts to tell us all about it and more than 300 other terms, phrases and catchwords related to sustainable foods and farming. Begin your search by clicking on a category below to narrow the field or browse by alphabetical listing. Now you won't have to think twice the next time you're deciding between “free-range” and “organic” eggs at the farmers' market.
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Participatory Food —
Participatory food calls for increased consumer participation in the process of food production and/or preparation. As it relates to restaurants, participatory food is exhibited by an arrangement in which patrons help assemble or even cook their dishes themselves with assistance from the restaurant chefs or staff. This gives customers greater control over the ingredients in their meals, encourages participation in the preparation of food and allows for control over portion size. As it relates to farms and food producers, participatory food is promoted by activities, such as pick-your-own, volunteering on a farm and educational programs, that encourage participation in the growth, harvest and processing of food. Community supported agriculture programs promote participatory food, especially when they offer CSA workshares.
Pasteurization is the process by which milk and other beverages, such as juice, are heated to a certain temperature for a specified amount of time to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria and microbes. This can be accomplished at low, high or “ultra” temperatures, and often takes the form of vat pasteurization. Products that are not pasteurized are known as unpasteurized or raw.
Pastured is often used interchangeably with the term grass-fed or pasture-fed and is used to refer to animals raised outdoors rather than confined to feedlots or cages. Depending on the season and the species, the diets of pastured animals consist of grasses, bugs and worms that grow and live in healthy fields.
The peanut-free label means that a food product does not contain peanuts or peanut products, such as peanut oil or peanut butter. It does not necessarily mean that a product was produced in a peanut-free facility, but some labels may make this specification as well. Although tree-nut allergies and peanut allergies are distinct, some people with one allergy also suffer from the other. Allergen-free foods do not contain peanuts. See also Tree Nut Free.
Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) —
Pennsylvania Certified Organic is a nonprofit, USDA-accredited organic certifying agent. PCO certifies growers, processors and handlers of organic crops, wild crops, livestock and livestock products from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. See also Certified Organic.
The term permaculture is a combination of the words permanent and agriculture, or simply culture. It is an ecological system design for land use that seeks to achieve sustainability by taking inspiration from natural processes and relationships. Developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren during the 1970s, permaculture seeks to harmoniously integrate the land with all of its inhabitants (from the smallest bacteria in the soil to humans) and take nutrient and weather cycles into account. It is based on a series of ethics that recognize humans as part of the Earth and therefore proposes that we should not exploit it for our own exclusive benefit. Permaculture also acknowledges that all humans are connected through society, so our use of the Earth’s resources should be equitable for both the present and future generations. Permaculture relies on fewer inputs than conventional agriculture, favors human and animal power over fossil fuel-powered machinery and chemicals and emphasizes turning waste into resources through methods such as composting. It also focuses on creating polycultures to increase biodiversity. Permaculture principles can be incorporated into all types of human ecosystems, from farms to individual homes to entire communities, and it is especially useful for restoring degraded landscapes.
Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) —
Permaculture Design Certification teaches methods for incorporating ecological design principles into buildings and agricultural areas. The training is centered on specific Permaculture design principles as outlined by Bill Mollison in his own curriculum. Many PDC instructors have been certified by Mollison to teach the course, but there are also many qualified instructors who are not certified.
Pesticide-free is an unregulated term used to indicate a product grown without the use of pesticides. Some food producers use this label during their three-year transition phase to Certified Organic, when they are no longer using pesticides and other chemicals but cannot yet label their products as organic. However, without third-party verification this term is unreliable. Although the Certified Pesticide Residue Free label requires that products have no pesticide residues at the point of sale, it does not mean that they were grown without the use of pesticides.
A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy or repel what is perceived as a pest. A pest can be an insect, weed, mollusk, bird, mammal, plant pathogen or disease. As a result, the term pesticide refers not only to insecticides but to herbicides, fungicides and various other substances used to control pests of all kinds.
Pick-Your-Own (PYO) —
Pick-your-own (also referred to as U-Pick and You-Pick) is a form of agritourism applied to many fruit and vegetable crops, most commonly berries, apples, stone fruits, small tomatoes and pumpkins.
Pollinators are animals or insects, such as hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies and flies that allow plants to reproduce by carrying pollen from one plant to another as they collect and feed off of the plants’ nectar. Pollinators facilitate fertilization by depositing the pollen on a stigma, ovule, flower or plant. Humans can also act as artificial pollinators in the case of pollinator population decline or in maintaining genetically pure plant strains. See also Open Pollination.
Polyculture, the opposite of monoculture, refers to the cultivation of a variety of species on the same plot of land, thereby increasing the biodiversity of the area. This approach views land management holistically and attempts to mimic the cycles and balance of a natural ecosystem.
Pond Culture —
The oldest and most common form of aquaculture, pond culture consists of basins specifically designed to rear and breed fish. Ponds vary in size and may be constructed with earthen levees or other materials. The water is sometimes stagnant, but ponds are often outfitted with drainage and recirculation systems. Both fresh and brackish water ponds are typical for species, such as shrimp, prawn, carp, tilapia, catfish and milkfish.
Pots, Creels, Weirs & Traps —
Pots, creels, weirs and traps are devices used to passively harvest seafood, such as crab, herring, lobster and prawns. Often created specifically for one species of fish or shellfish, these fishing methods result in a selective catch with low environmental impacts and limited harm to the fish or shellfish.
Pré Salé —
Pré salé translates from the French to “salt meadow” or “salt marsh.” The term generally refers to animals—particularly lamb raised in parts of France and Ireland—that graze on grasses growing along the edge of a salt marsh.
In order to maximize the health benefits of probiotic foods, a sufficient amount of prebiotic foods must be consumed through certain high-fiber foods including many fruits, vegetables and grains. Prebiotics are sometimes called fermentable fiber. Non-digestible prebiotic nutrients are used as an energy source for the beneficial bacteria that live in human intestines. They play a role in boosting immune system function, aiding calcium absorption and improving digestion, among other things. Some primary sources for prebiotics are chicory root, artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions and whole-wheat flour.
Literally meaning “for life,” probiotics are live microorganisms that improve intestinal health by creating a balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the body. Their health-promoting qualities have been recognized for centuries. Probiotics are consumed through either supplements or cultured and fermented foods, which also contain other healthful properties.
Producer-Only Market —
The term producer-only is sometimes interpreted differently among farmers’ markets, but it usually means that a market’s vendors grew or produced all the goods they are offering for sale.
Public Market —
Public markets are usually large, permanent city markets with a variety of vendors including local farmers, specialty food producers, artisans and food resellers. Rochester Farmers’ Market in Rochester, New York, and Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, are two examples of this type of market.
Purse Seining —
Purse Seining is a fishing technique that involves encircling a school of fish with walls of netting, then tightening the giant purse-like drawstring at the bottom of the net to trap the fish within. The catch is then hauled on board the fishing boat in a process called brailing. Purse seines have a fairly low impact when used to catch small fish like herring and sardines, but the potential for bycatch increases dramatically when this method is used for catching large fish, such as tuna. Depending on the level of precautionary measures used, purse seining may not be dolphin safe.