Guide to Green Terminology – Food Terms

Have you heard about movements to go “gluten-free” or “vegan” and wondered what all of the buzz is about? Here are 9 definitions for food terms commonly found in discourse related to environmentally conscious and healthy eating to help you navigate the news:

Dust off your big green dictionary

Image provided by Flickr creative commons user ~Brenda-Starr~


  • CSA: “CSA” stands for community supported agriculture. CSAs are a great way for environmentally conscious eaters to purchase locally-grown produce. Typically, an individual can sign up as a member and regularly receive a box of produce or other farm-grown products from a local farm.
  • Free Range: The term “free range” refers to a farming technique in which animals raised for their meat (or their eggs in the case of chickens) are allowed to freely roam and graze rather than being confined in a cage or enclosure. This approach is typically considered kinder to animals than enclosure-raising and is related to the term “cage-free,” although the label “free-range” or “cage-free” on meats does not necessarily mean that the animal lived in a state of well-being.
  • Gluten: Gluten is a composite protein found in foods like wheat flour, beer and soy sauce. It is typically used in these foods as a thickener, stabilizer or protein source. Because there seems to be a rise in individuals suffering from gluten intolerance and digestive problems associated with gluten, there has recently been a movement for “gluten-free” food products.
  • Locavore: An individual who considers him or herself a “locavore” makes an effort to eat only foods that are produced locally (by some guidelines, within 100 miles of where the individual lives). A locavore diet can be sourced through gardening, CSAs and farmer’s markets. The movement mainly revolves around the desire to cut back on environmental waste related to shipping food products long distances.
  • Octo-lacto: The term “octo-lacto” refers to a type of vegetarianism in which the eater excludes animal flesh from their diet (or, in the case of a pescetarian, most forms of animal flesh), but continues to consume eggs and dairy products. This is in contrast to a vegan diet, which excludes both animal flesh and all animal products.
  • Pescetarian: Pescetarianism is a form of diet commonly associated with vegetarianism in which the eater consumes fish or seafood but excludes other forms of animal flesh such as red meat and poultry. It has been debated whether or not pescetarianism is a true form of vegetarian diet.
  • Tofu: Tofu is commonly thought of as a staple of the vegetarian diet. It is also referred to as “bean curd” and is made from soy coagulated and formed into bricks. It can be made at various degrees of “firmness” and used in all sorts of dishes.
  • Vegan: The word “vegan” can be used as an adjective or as a noun. In an adjective sense, it describes a lifestyle, product or, in particular, a dietary choice that excludes all animal products, including eggs, milk, honey, etc. In the noun form, a vegan is a person who chooses to exclude these animal products from their life for various purposes, often related to health and/or concern for the environment or the well-being of animals. Some vegans also choose to live a life free of animal goods such as leather.
  •  Vegetarian: A vegetarian diet generally excludes animal flesh such as red meat, poultry and fish, but there are varying degrees of vegetarianism. A person who adheres to a vegetarian diet is referred to in the noun form as a “vegetarian.”


Now go out and get fooducated! Don’t forget to look forward to more green terminology posts here on GreenJoyment!

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