Farmers Markets are truly a joy to attend.

Leisurely browsing the farmers' delights, especially on a day with azure blue sky and a perfect temperature

can be both awe-inspiring and intriguing.

This is the type of day that everything surrounding you in sight will be perfect to serve and enjoy.

In fact, your mouth is already watering looking at that perfectly grown peach with just the perfect array of colors.

Which brings up a question of the labeling attached to the produce or meat you are about to bring home.

For the conscientious shopper, this mini-dictionary will help reduce the confusion for easy identification.

When selecting fresh produce or meat, terms may be mentioned, a product labeled, or a display you can't resist, Now Let's take a closer look so You know exactly what your buying And The New Terms You May Stumble Across.


The Topics Covered Are Listed Below....Any New Terms?  Let's Get To It.





This is an unregulated claim and applies to the label on the eggs.  It adds no value to the chicken meat, as they are generally raised in large, open structures called "growout houses".

Cage-Free generally means the hens who laid the eggs were allowed to live outside of cages, although the term does not mean that they were allowed to roam outside.  Cage-Free means "not confined in cages" as opposed to free-range.  Typically, large commercial producers confine the hens to cages.

Ask the farmer how the birds were raised is the best solution and you will get your answer.


Free Range

This term can apply to meat, dairy, or eggs.

The USDA only regulates this claim for chickens and eggs, and it means the birds were allowed access to the outdoors.


Whether the birds were actually outside, or for how long, is not regulated.

Free range livestock generally roam freely outdoors.





free range chickens



free range chickens


Certified Organic

A farm must pay for this certification..

Many believe that farmers that use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or chemical herbicides

are the ones that should pay?

It is a continuing debate.

Certified Organic in the US is a USDA label and other certifying bodies must be approved by them.


A farm must be chemical-free for three years, meaning no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or chemical herbicides can be used.

Organic meat, eggs, and dairy products must come from livestock that have not received antibiotics or growth hormones and were given only organic feed.


Organic is a labeling term for food or other agricultural products that have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity in accordance with the USDA organic regulations.

Organic vs. Natural            Organic    Natural                   

Toxic Persistent Pesticides                        Not Allowed        Allowed

GMO's                                                                    Not Allowed        Allowed

Antibiotics                                                           Not Allowed        Allowed

Growth Hormones                                         Not Allowed        Allowed

Sludge & Irradiation                                      Not Allowed        Allowed

Animal Welfare Requirement                                     Yes         No

Cows Required To Be On Pasture                             Yes         No

Lower Levels Of Environmental Pollution            Yes         Not Necessarily

Audit Trail From Farm To Table                                   Yes         No

Certification Required Including Inspection       Yes         No

Legal Restrictions On Allowable Materials          Yes        No


Natural is a word that sounds great. You decide.

organic labeling


(Beyond Organic)

Regenerative Farming is an approach to and a system of farming principles and practices to farming and food supplies that immensely enhances ecosystems.  It rejects the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers and claims to regenerate topsoil, reduce carbon footprint, increase biodiversity, improve watersheds and cycles, increase yields, enhances ecosystem services, increase resilience to climate fluctuation, and strengthen the health and vitality of farming and ranching communities.


Regenerative Farming aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.

Regenerative Organic farming, animal husbandry and environmental conservation puts a central focus on improving soil health and fertility.




The USDA  has a separate grass fed rule that applies to ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats, and bison. These animals must be fed “grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state.” (Although ruminants are best adapted to a grass-based diet, most animals in today’s food system are fed grains.) The grass fed designation also requires the animals to have “continuous access to pasture during the growing season.” Because the term “growing season” isn’t defined, however, some critics believe this language still permits certain degrees of confinement. For this reason, the American Grassfed Association has developed more stringent standards, which say the animal “must not be confined to a pen, feedlot or other area” during the growing season, prohibit antibiotics and synthetic hormones, and address other elements of animal welfare.

farming wisconsin


A “pasture raised” claim on meat, poultry, dairy, or egg labels means that the animals were raised for at least some portion of their lives on pasture or with access to pasture, not continually confined indoors.

On beef and dairy products, a “pasture raised” claim on the label does not mean that the cows derived all their nutrition from grazing on pasture or that they were 100 percent grass fed. Cows that are raised on pasture can be given supplemental grain, both during the grazing season and winter months.




With Consumer desire to know how the animals are treated during their lifetime and before harvest, and the desire for appropriate care and treatment of the animals and labeling of the products, the Humane Farm Animal Care Labeling Certification began which has a 28 a member panel and a process that  includes review of animal research and visits to farms to review various outdoor systems.

The USDA has no standardized definition of “humane”, although multiple organizations have created their own niche in the industry with their own labeling and certification standards.

Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Humane labels (the latter is managed by Humane Farm Animal Care, which also publishes a comprehensive label comparison chart). These certifications not only evaluate access to pasture and exposure to growth hormones, but also things like sleep periods, litter management, castration, and methods of slaughter.

Author: admin

Uniting Farmers, Ranchers, and Service Providers

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