Utilize this resource to deepen your understanding and engage more effectively with critical issues and innovations shaping the future of our food.



Agroecology The application of ecological concepts and principles in farming practices for sustainable agriculture, focusing on the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment.

Aquaponics A system combining aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system.

Artisanal Pertaining to food products made in traditional or non-mechanized ways often by local craftsmen, typically emphasizing quality and authenticity.


Biofortification The process of increasing the nutritional value of food crops through agricultural practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.

Biodegradable Packaging Packaging made from organic materials that can be broken down by microorganisms within a reasonable amount of time, reducing waste and environmental impact.

Biofuel Fuels produced directly or indirectly from organic material – biomass – including plant materials and animal waste, used mainly for transportation.


Composting A method of turning organic wastes into a nutrient-rich material that can improve soil health and reduce waste.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) A system in which consumers buy shares of a farmer's crop in advance and receive regular distributions of produce throughout the farming season.

Cellular Agriculture Production of agricultural products from cell cultures using a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering, molecular biology, and synthetic biology.


Decomposers Organisms such as bacteria and fungi that break down dead material and wastes, turning them into useful nutrients that can be reused within the ecosystem.

Drip Irrigation An efficient irrigation method that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.

Dietary Fiber Indigestible substances in foods, sourced from plants, that aid in the digestion process and are essential for a healthy diet.


Edible Landscaping The practice of incorporating food-producing plants and trees into residential and public landscapes, promoting both aesthetics and functionality.

Enzymes Proteins that act as catalysts in biochemical reactions, including processes like digestion and metabolism in food.

Ethanol A type of alcohol used as a biofuel, commonly made from corn and sugarcane; used in sustainable fuel alternatives.


Food Miles A measure of the distance food items travel from the place of production to the consumer, used to assess the environmental impact of food transport.

Foraging The practice of gathering wild food resources, often focusing on sustainability and reconnecting with nature.

Fermentation A metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes, beneficial in food preservation and flavor enhancement.


Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques, often to achieve traits like pest resistance or increased nutritional value.

Grass-fed Refers to animals that have been raised eating only grass and other foraged foods throughout their lives, as opposed to being fed grain-based diets.

Gluten-Free A diet excluding gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and crossbred hybrids of these grains, often essential for individuals with gluten-related disorders.


Hydroponics A method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent, allowing for more controlled and space-efficient farming.

Homogenization A process that involves blending the fat molecules in milk so that they stay integrated rather than separating as cream; also applied in other food products to improve consistency and shelf life.

Heirloom Seeds Seeds from plant varieties that have been cultivated for at least 50 years and are passed down through generations, valued for their genetic diversity and adaptation to specific local conditions.


Irradiation A process in which food is exposed to radiation to kill bacteria and other pathogens, thereby extending its shelf life and ensuring food safety.

Intercropping A practice of growing two or more crops in close proximity, which can lead to significant improvements in crop yields and sustainability.

Insoluble Fiber The type of dietary fiber that does not dissolve in water, important for its ability to help prevent constipation and improve digestive health.


Juicing The process of extracting the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables, resulting in a concentrated form of nutrients often consumed for health benefits.

Junk Food Informal term for food that is high in calories from sugar or fat with little dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals, and often considered unhealthy.

Jicama A root vegetable, also known as Mexican yam bean, which is crisp, juicy, and sweet, often eaten raw or added to salads in Western cooking.


Kale A hardy cabbage of a variety which produces erect stems with large leaves and no compact head, known for its health benefits and nutritional value.

Kombucha A fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drink commonly intended as a functional beverage for its supposed health benefits.

Kefir A fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains and packed with probiotics, noted for its health benefits.


Locavore A person who endeavors to eat only foods harvested from within a locally defined area, often within 100 miles of home, to promote sustainability and reduce food miles.

Legumes A class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, and lentils, known for their ability to fix nitrogen and their high protein content, making them important staples in vegetarian diets.

Lactose-Free Foods or drinks that do not contain lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products, catering to those with lactose intolerance.


Microgreens Young vegetable greens that are approximately 1–3 inches tall, known for their nutritional content and used as a visual and flavor component in fine dining.

Monoculture The agricultural practice of growing a single crop, variety, or species in a field at a time, which can lead to greater efficiency but also higher susceptibility to diseases and pests.

Mycotoxins Toxic compounds produced by fungi that can contaminate food crops and pose a significant risk to health and food safety.


Nutraceutical A product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods, often used to prevent diseases and improve health.

No-till Farming An agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil through tillage, thereby reducing soil erosion and improving soil health and carbon sequestration.

Nitrates Compounds found naturally in some foods (like vegetables) and added to others (like cured meats) that can affect human health and are integral in soil fertility.


Organic Farming An agricultural system that uses ecologically based pest controls and biological fertilizers derived largely from animal and plant wastes and nitrogen-fixing cover crops.

Omnivore An organism that eats both plants and animals, referring to people who consume a variety of food of both plant and animal origin.

Oxidation A chemical reaction involving the loss of electrons by a molecule, atom, or ion, which in food can lead to deterioration and rancidity, affecting flavor and nutritional quality.


Pollination The transfer of pollen from the male structures to the female structures of flowers, crucial for the production of fruits, seeds, and young plants.

Preservatives Substances used in foods to prevent the growth of microorganisms and extend the shelf life by preventing spoilage that may result from bacterial growth, enzymatic action, or chemical changes.

Probiotics Live microorganisms intended to provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.


Quinoa An ancient grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds, which are rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and dietary minerals in amounts greater than in many grains.

Quality Standards Regulations and criteria to ensure that food products meet consistent safety and quality benchmarks at all stages of production and sale.

Quarantine Restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of disease by isolating affected individuals, animals, or plants from contact with others.


Regenerative Agriculture A conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems which focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.

Resilience The ability of a system, community, or individual to withstand environmental, economic, or social challenges and quickly recover from them.

Rotational Grazing A livestock management practice that involves rotating livestock through a series of paddocks so the grazing pasture can regenerate, improving pasture productivity and reducing soil erosion.


Sustainability Practices in agriculture and food production that maintain the capacity of the earth to provide for the needs of current and future generations through environmentally sound, socially acceptable, and economically viable means.

Seed Bank A repository for the preservation of seeds to ensure crop diversity for future generations. Seed banks are vital for conserving genetic diversity against the loss of plant species in the wild.

Soil Health The continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. This term encompasses soil's physical, chemical, and biological properties.


Traceability The ability to verify the history, location, or application of an item by means of documented recorded identification, crucial in the food supply chain for safety and quality assurance.

Transgenic An organism that contains a gene or genes which have been artificially inserted instead of the organism acquiring them through reproduction.

Terrace Farming A type of farming that consists of different "steps" or terraces that are built onto the slopes of hills and mountains to make use of rainwater for irrigation and reduce soil erosion.


Urban Farming The practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. Urban farming can contribute to food security and alleviate urban food deserts.

U-Pick Farms Farms where consumers can go directly to the farm to pick the fruits and vegetables themselves. This model connects consumers with their food source and can involve less packaging and waste.

Umami Recognized as the fifth taste, alongside sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami is a savory taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides that occur naturally in foods.


Vertical Farming The practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers or inclined surfaces. The idea is to manage resources more efficiently, use less water, and maximize the use of urban

Veganism A lifestyle and diet that excludes all animal products and by-products such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey, with motivations ranging from health concerns to ethical and environmental considerations.

Viticulture The science, production, and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. It is also concerned with the production of wine, especially with vine growing.


Whole Foods Foods that are minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.

Water Footprint The total volume of fresh water that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by an individual, community, or produced by a business.

Whey Protein A high-quality protein naturally found in dairy, a byproduct of the cheese-making process, often used in supplements and shakes to enhance muscle growth and aid in recovery.


Xeriscaping A landscaping method developed for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques such as drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation.

Xanthan Gum A polysaccharide with many industrial uses, including as a common food additive to stabilize, thicken, and emulsify ingredients.

Xylitol A sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute in foods, known for its sweetness comparable to sucrose but with fewer calories and less impact on blood glucose levels.


Yield The measure of the crop produced on a given piece of land during a single season, an essential factor in assessing agricultural efficiency and sustainability.

Yogurt A food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk, widely consumed for its flavor, texture, and health benefits including probiotics that help maintain gut flora

Yeast A microorganism used in the production of beer, wine, and breads, crucial for fermentation, causing dough to rise by converting carbohydrates to carbon dioxide gas and alcohols.


Zero-Tillage Another term for no-till farming, which involves growing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage, thereby preserving soil structure and biodiversity.

Zinc An essential mineral important for a healthy immune system, wound healing, and normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.s.

Zoonosis Any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans and vice-versa, emphasizing the health interconnections between species.vor.

This glossary will be regularly updated to reflect emerging trends, technologies, and practices within the Food System and the Future of Food, ensuring it remains a timely and valuable resource for anyone interested in the evolving dynamics of global food security, sustainability, and innovation

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