A guide to terms you may see and hear at Kansas farmers markets.
Please note that many of these terms do not have legal definitions so may mean different things for different sellers. One of the great things about the farmers’ market is that you can talk to the people who grow and process your food; we encourage you to ask sellers about their practices!
The terms "artisan" and "artisanal" imply that products are made by hand in small batches.
Biodynamic farming is an approach based on the work of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. In addition to organic practices such as crop rotation and composting, biodynamic farmers rely on special plant, animal and mineral preparations and the rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets and stars.
This term means that the animals within a herd are all bred from within the herd. No animals are purchased from breeders or other sources and incorporated into the herd.
Refers to typical, widespread farming practices that may use synthetically produced fertilizer, "mono-cropping," antibiotics, and hormones. Conventional farming in the U.S. may also include the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Although many farming operations at Kansas farmers markets fall into this category, this does not mean conventional farmers are not concerned about the health and environmental considerations of using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Many have adopted sustainable growing methods, such as beneficial insects, cover cropping and reduced chemical usage.
This phrase is a marketing term used in retail and direct farm sales. In general it means that the product is being purchased directly from a farm. If freshness is a concern, ask when the produce was harvested or the eggs collected.
Farmstead cheeses are made by the same people who keep the animals that produce the milk. In other words, they are cheeses "from the farm."
Implies that a meat or poultry product comes from an animal that was raised in the open air or was free to roam. When used on poultry products, “free range” is regulated by the USDA and means that the birds have been given access to the outdoors but for an undetermined period each day. “Free range” claims on red meats and eggs are not regulated. Ask the farmer what practices s/he follows to label their products “free range.”
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
GMOs are plants and animals that have had their genetic make up altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. 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.
The diet of grass-fed animals consists of freshly grazed pasture during the growing season and stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during the winter months or drought conditions. Grass feeding is used with cattle, sheep, goats, and bison. (Other terms for “grass-fed" products include "pasture-raised," "pasture-finished," and "grass-finished.")
Heirloom crop varieties, also called farmers' varieties or traditional varieties, have been developed by farmers through years of cultivation, selection, and seed saving, and passed down through generations.
Heritage foods are derived from rare and endangered breeds of livestock and crops. Animals are purebreds, a specific breed of animal that is near extinction. Production standards are not required by law, but true heritage farmers use sustainable production methods.This method of production saves animals from extinction and preserves genetic diversity.
These are long plastic tunnels held up by wire hoops over parts of a farmer's field. The heat from the soil keeps the ground warm enough to plant vegetables and fruits later in the season for additional months of product to sell. The hoop houses protect the plants from the harsh weather, but steps must be taken to irrigate what is being grown, and watch for signs of too much water.
If an animal product is labeled "humane," it implies that the animals were treated with compassion. "Certified Humane" means that the animals were allowed to engage in their natural behaviors; raised with sufficient space, shelter and gentle handling to limit stress; and given ample fresh water and a healthy diet without added antibiotics or hormones. Not all "humane" claims are regulated.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
A pest management strategy that focuses on methods that are least injurious to the environment. Pesticides are applied in such a way that they pose the least possible hazard, and are used as a 'last resort' when other controls are inadequate.
Food grown near the point of its consumption. There is no standard definition for “local” when it comes to food – a particular definition of “local” might be based upon county, state, region, watershed, or another boundary.
USDA guidelines state that "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.
Antibiotics are given to animals such as cows, hogs and chickens in order to prevent diseases that run rampant in the cramped conditions in which many food animals are kept. When a ranch or product professes "no antibiotics," this means that they do not engage in these practices.
Hormones are commonly used in the commercial farming of animals such as cattle to increase the size of beef cattle or to increase the production of milk in dairy cattle. 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 this practice.
Some farmers may avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides & fungicides even if they continue to use conventional inputs such as synthetic fertilizer. "No Spraying" or "Pesticide-free" indicates that while the farm may not be organic, there are no toxic sprays applied to the produce.
Many markets ring a bell at the beginning of market signaling that vendors may begin selling. Markets site fairness as the primary reason to prohibit sales before the stated market hours.
Organically Grown/Certified Organic
Under the USDA National Organic Program, all products sold as “organic” must be certified. Certification requires a farm to submit a production plan and be inspected annually by a certifying organization. The organic certification process is designed to assure customers that the organic products they purchase have been produced using appropriate organic practices, with records that allow traceability.
Organic but not certified
Many farmers have chosen not to become certified for a wide variety of reasons including the high cost of certification, disagreement with certain certification regulations, as well as a detailed record-keeping system that can be onerous for small farmers harvesting a wide variety of crops. They cannot label their product organic, so they use “Natural”, “Pesticide-free”, or “Organic but not certified” as a description of their product. By not being certified, there is no guarantee that the farmer is using the methods defined by the National Organic Program. If you are interested if the farmers’ product and certification is a concern, ask him or her why they have chosen not to be certified.
A market in which the vendors are either also the growers of the food or items they sell or are related to or work on the farm where the items are grown or made. Vendors cannot purchase goods from other places and re-sell them at the market.
Raw milk cheese
Cheese and other dairy products made from milk that is not pasteurized say "raw milk" on the label. In the U.S., raw milk cheeses are required to be aged for 60 days as a safety precaution.
When vendors buy from other sources other than from what they produced. For example, they may purchase goods at a wholesale site or large public market and re-sell it at a farmers market.
Food harvested, produced, processed, distributed and consumed in a manner that maintains and enhances the quality of land, air and water for future generations, and in which people are able to earn a living wage in a safe and healthy working environment by harvesting, growing, producing, processing, handling, retailing and serving food.
Farmers need to practice organic methods for three years on a given piece of land before the products grown there can be certified organic. "Transitional" means that the farmland is in the midst of that transition period towards organic certification.
Farming that is done within city limits. Urban Farms can be located in vacant lots or in city parks, and often exist on raised soil beds that rest above pavement. Urban Agriculture facilities provide city residents without access to rural land an opportunity to grow their own food, learn about food systems and increase consumption of healthy products.
These terms are applied to fruit that has been allowed to ripen on the vine or tree. Many fruits that are shipped long distances are picked while still unripe and firm, and then sometimes treated with ethylene gas to "ripen" and soften them.
Foods with this label contain no animal products of any kind.
Wood-fired oven bread
Breads baked in an oven made of brick, clay or sod that is heated by burning wood.