Green Glossary

Confused about the terms that are cropping up in the produce section of your local supermarket or when you wander around a farmer’s market?  I sure have been – sustainable, local, and organic.  What is the difference?  I found this simple explanation in the April 2009 issue of Better Homes & Gardens.


Sustainable – The goal of sustainable agriculture is to be profitable and meet the needs of the human consumer while maintaining environmentally sound practices.  Sustainable agriculture also addresses quality of life issues of the farm worker and their communities.


Organic – The USDA has defined organic foods as those produced using sustainable agricultural practices with no synthetic fertilizers, conventional pesticides or bioengineering.   The USDA “Certified Organic” seal signifies that a product is made with at least 95% organic ingredients.


Natural – The FDA has not established formal guidelines for the use of the term “natural”.  Generally, to use the term natural on product labels the product must not contain any added color, artificial flavor or synthetic substances.  The use of “natural” does not speak to how the products ingredients are grown or produced.


Local – This is a unregulated term that generally indicates that the product was produced locally (within a 100 mile radius).  The advantage of buying locally is that it supports your local economy and given the close proximity, the foods should be fresher.


To learn more about sustainable agriculture visit these sites:



· – (includes listing of organic restaurants throughout the country – my favorite is Farm255 in Athens, GA)