Learning Resources

What Does Organic Mean?

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

Seasonal Eating

Seasonal EatingEating in season is a delicious, environmentally friendly way to enjoy our regional bounty. It connects us with the land around us, allows us to slow down and mark the passing of time, honoring our local farmers for their hard work. Eating seasonally means enjoying produce at the peak of its perfection. Starting with delicious asparagus and greens in the spring, moving into strawberries, tomatoes and the rest of summer’s bounty, and finally into the squash and heirloom apples of fall, each month brings a new treat to enjoy.

What’s in Season Now?

This listing is approximate and varies according to the intensity of the seasons. For example — a cold, wet spring this year will result in a slight delay for some vegetables. Ask your favorite farmers at the market how their growing season is going!

Common Market Terms

Animal Welfare Approved
The Animal Welfare Approved Program audits and certifies family farms. These farmers raise their animals with the highest animal welfare standards.
An artisan is a person engaged in or occupied by the practice of a craft, who may through experience and talent reach the expressive levels of an artist using his hands, mind and heart in his work and what he creates.
Biodynamic farming uses organic practices such as crop rotation and composting, with special plant, animal and mineral preparations. Production practices are done according to the rhythms found in nature.
Cage Free
Also referred to as “nest eggs,” this term indicates that hens are allowed to roam free when not on their nests. Hens may still be kept indoors.
Certified Organic
Under the USDA National Organic Program, all products sold as “organic” must be certified. Certification involves a farm submitting a production plan and being inspected annually by a certifying organization.
Refers to typical, widespread farming practices that may use synthetically produced fertilizer and pesticides.
Free Range
Also known as “free roaming,” this term implies that the meat or poultry product comes from an animal that was raised in the open air or was free to roam. When used on meat poultry products, “free range” is regulated by the USDA and means that the birds have been given access to the outdoors.
Foods with this label contain trace/no gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often as “dextrin”. A gluten-free diet rules out all ordinary breads, pastas, and many convenience foods; it also excludes gravies, custards, soups and sauces thickened with wheat, rye, barley or other gluten-containing flour.
Grass & Pasture
These two words are used with the terms Grass-based, Pasture-based, Grass-fed, Pasture-fed, and Pasture-raised. Pasture or grassland were a significant part of the animal’s life and diet if meat, dairy, and eggs have this label. The animals must be raised outdoors on a pasture.
Grass Finished
The cow or sheep was allowed to grow to its slaughter weight while eating grass. This process is slower than “finishing” with grain but produces tender and leaner meat.
This term describes anything made “from scratch,” and includes baked goods, crafts, and much more.
Heritage or Heirloom
These foods are derived from “old fashioned” rare and endangered varieties or breeds. Heritage food production saves animals from extinction and preserves genetic diversity in the fruits and vegetables we love.
Humanely Raised
Animals are raised in the most humane, sanitary, and ethical conditions from birth to slaughter. Growth hormones and regular use of antibiotics are prohibited. Producers must comply with local, state and federal environmental standards.
Integrated Pest Management
A pest (insect, disease, or weeds) management strategy that seeks to decrease pesticide use. The farmer may apply pesticides in such a way that they pose the least possible hazard.
All of the products you see for sale at the Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market are raised or produced within 50 miles of Raleigh, NC.
Organically Grown
Many farmers grow their produce organically, but are not certified by the USDA. Unfortunately, the certification process can be expensive and time consuming for some small farms.
Also referred to as “no spraying,” this term indicates that there are no sprays or pesticides applied to the produce.
Foods whose production does not deplete the natural resources from which it came or was produced. It is more of a philosophy or way of life rather than a label.