Responsible Purchasing Network

Food Services: Definitions

This glossary includes key terms from the Guide and may be used as a companion to the text.

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Agrochemical    a generic term for the various chemical
products used in agriculture generally
referring to pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, fertilizers and growth hormones.

Baseline   basic information gathered before a program begins that is used later to provide a comparison for assessing program impact
Bioaccumulate   process whereby harmful substances concentrate or magnify as they move up the food chain

Biobased   products composed in whole or in significant part of biological products, forestry materials, or renewable domestic agricultural materials, including plant, animal, or marine materials,
generally safer for the environment than
petroleum-based counterparts, and usually
biodegradable or recyclable.

Biodynamic®   a concept of farming, developed in the
1920s, that views the farm holistically as a
living organism and emphasizes contributing
to natural resources instead of depleting
them. Products must be produced without
synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, genetic
engineering, and all other requirements of a
certified organic label.

Cage free
  a food claim that eggs come from chickens
that were raised without confinement in

Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA)
  a system where by a consumer commits to
buying a certain percentage a farmer’s crop
in the beginning of each growing season

Compostable   Food or other organic material capable of
undergoing biological decomposition in
a compost site. The organic matter from
compost can improve the water holding
capacity of roots and will provide plants with

Endocrine Disruptor
  chemical that interferes with the normal
function of a living organism’s endocrine

Environmentally Preferable
  products and services that have a lesser
or reduced effect on human health and
the environment when compared to other
products and services that serve the same

Free Range
  suggests that a meat or poultry product
(including eggs) came from an animal that
was able to roam outdoors.

  A government regulated label on meat that
means that the ruminant animal (cow or
lamb) has been raised on a diet consisting
fully of grasses, hay, and forage.

Genetically Modified Organism
  an organism whose genetic characteristics
have been altered by the insertion of a
modified gene to express a desired trait

Handler   any operation that takes physical
possession of a product- such as a
processor, manufacturer, distributor,
packer, broker, other entity- that processes,
packs or distributes products.

Hazardous Substance
  1. material posing a threat to human
health and/or the environment, that can
be toxic, corrosive, ignitable, explosive, or
chemically reactive
2. substance that must be reported to the
EPA if released into the environment.

Humanely raised
  a term used to describe the way an animal
is raised for food production. Processes
that are considered humanely-raised
provide conditions where animals are not
confined, have free access to fresh food
and water and are raised without the use of
antibiotics or growth hormones.

In-Vessel Composting
  a composting operation where by composting
materials are confined within a building,
container, or vessel.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)   a building rating system developed by the US Green Building Council, includes standards for several types of buildings

Life Cycle Environmental
  environmental impacts of a given product
or service caused by its production,
consumption and end use management.

  meat and poultry products that have
undergone minimal processing and do not
contain artificial colors, ingredients, flavors
or preservatives

Operation   a food service business including, but not
limited to full-service operations, limited
service operations, non-commercial
establishments and catering.
Post-consumer food waste
  food scraps left over from customers.

Pre-consumer food waste
  food waste discarded by kitchen staff in
the form of overproduced food, trim waste,
spoiled food, dropped items, overcooked
items, or leftover bar food.

Pulper   a machine used to grind up organic matter,
such as food scraps, cardboard, and paper,
with water and then extract most of the
moisture to produce a dry, organic pule.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
  a synthetic growth hormone given to cows
to increase milk production.
Sustainable Agriculture Network
  an international coalition of leading
conservations groups that links responsible
farmers with conscientious consumers by
means of the Rainforest Alliance Certified
seal of approval

Total Cost of Ownership
  A financial estimate designed to help
consumers and enterprise managers
assess direct and indirect costs

Volatile Organic Compound
  organic compound that typically vaporizes
at room temperature and participates in
atmospheric photochemical reactions

Windrow Composting
  consists of placing a mixture of raw
materials in a long narrow piles or
windrows which are agitated or turned on a
regular basis.


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