Farm Fresh Glossary

CSA – Short for Community Supported Agriculture, a CSA is a business model employed by farmers (and us!) in which the consumer purchases a “share” of food for a set price, and then receives their share either weekly or monthly.  The model is a win-win.  Farmers can count on a set customer base and receive money ahead of time when they need it most.   Consumers receive a diverse array of foods and are able to try new foods that they might not see at the grocery store.

Local – Clearly, the definition of local changes depending on your outlook. For our purposes, it means Maine.  Our members are primarily from the Greater Bangor Area, but we source local foods from all over our great state.

Free Range – Free Range is a term typically used to describe how chickens (both egg producers and meat birds) are raised.  For us, the definition is threefold. 1) The USDA defines free range birds as having “access to the outdoors”.  2) For most of our producers, it means that and more.  Chickens are given plenty of space to roam, flap their wings, peck for food and engage in natural chicken behavior.  We know, because we visit our producers to see for ourselves.  3) “Free Range is part of our name!  Without a storefront, we, and our truck, are free to roam around the state of Maine sourcing the best food for you.

Grassfed – This term is generally used to describe the way cows and sheep are fed, and applies to both dairy and meat animals.  Unlike chickens and pigs, cows and sheep are biologically designed to subsist on grass and hay alone.  Many small farmers feel that this natural diet is best for their animals.  Although cows are traditionally fed this way, it is necessary to specify if meat and milk is grassfed since in industrial production cows are often fed grain, a food which can actually make them sick.

Heirloom Variety – Seed Savers, an organization and seed company that is devoted to preserving heirloom varieties, defines an heirloom as “a garden plant that has a history of being passed down within a family, just like pieces of heirloom jewelry or furniture“.  You’ve probably heard of heirloom tomatoes, but every vegetable has heirloom varieties with wacky names and intriguing stories. Many heirloom varieties are unique to Maine, and some of the farms we support even have their own heirloom vegetable varieties.  While we don’t go so far as to say that heirlooms are “better” than other vegetables, we certainly feel that they should be preserved and celebrated.  Also, they tend to be delicious.  

Heritage Breed – In the United States, just a free breeds dominate the livestock industry.  Cornish Cross chickens, Holstein Dairy Cows and Hereford or Angus beef cows, to name a few.  In the not so distant past, however, there were dozens of breeds raised on small farms across the country. Sustainable Table defines Heritage Breeds as “traditional livestock breeds that were raised by farmers in the past, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture.”  Many small farmers in Maine still raise heritage breeds, whether it be Tamworth pigs, Barred Rock chickens or Scottish Highland Cattle.

Pastured – This term is often used to describe poultry and pork production.  It is similar to the term “free range”, but a bit more specific in that pastured animals are generally raised outside, on pasture, not just given access to it.  It is different from the term “grassfed” because unlike cows, chickens and pigs can not survive on grass alone. 

Raw or Unpasteurized Milk – The milk that we sell is labeled as unpasteurized, meaning that it has not been heat-treated.  It is milk in it’s most basic form – straight from the cow. Raw milk legislation varies from state to state, but in Maine it is legal for us to sell raw milk from local dairies to our customers.  The farms we source milk from are inspected regularly and licensed to produce and sell raw milk by the Department of Agriculture.

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