Glossary of terms

Here you will find definitions of terms used in resources on the Foodsource website. You will also find these definitions on the right-hand side within chapters. If you have any suggestions for new glossary items, let us know here.

A (7) | B (1) | C (10) | D (1) | E (5) | F (5) | G (2) | H (1) | I (4) | M (6) | N (3) | O (1) | P (4) | R (1) | S (7) | T (1) | W (3) | Y (1) | Z (1)


Acidification refers to changes to the chemistry of a body of water that make it more acidic over time (i.e. increased hydrogen ion availability). This change in acidity can then affect many other reactions that take place in water, including those important for ecosystem functioning.


Aeration is the process by which air is circulated through, mixed with, or disolved in a liquid or substance.


Agrochemicals are chemicals, such as a pesticide or fertiliser that are used in agriculture

Alternative food movement

Alternative food movements generally exist to challenge the current negative consequences of food systems. Fair trade, organic, food justice, food sovereignty, vegan and vegetarian movements can all be seen as offering alternatives to the status quo and as such form part of the "alternative food movement;" it can be said that there are several movements, rather than just one.


Anaerobic processes occur in the absence of oxygen. For example anaerobic respiration occurs when oxygen is not present.


Aquaculture refers to the breeding, rearing and harvesting of animals and plants in aquatic environments.

Arable crops and arable land

Arable crops are those such as wheat and barley, which require good soil quality and a favourable climate to grow, and land amenable to the use of ploughing and harvesting machinery. Arable land is by definition land used to grow arable crops, in contrast to land used for fruit and vegetable crops and for pasture used to feed grazing animals.


Biomass refers to dry weight of plant-based material that has been harvested or is available on an area of land. Typically, it refers to the use of plants not for food or fibre, but rather for (bio)energy.

C3 plants

C3 plants are those whose method of photosynthesis is adapted to cooler and wetter climates. They represent the majority of plants globally and include rice, soybean, and wheat. C3 plants are less efficient at creating energy for growth than C4 type plants in hot and dry climates.

C4 plants

C4 plants are thost whos method of photosynthesis is adapted to hotter and dryer climates. They represent only a small fraction of plants globally. Examples include some grasses, maize, sugar cane, millet, and sorghum. In hot and dry climates, it is more efficient at creating energy for growth than C3 plants

Carbon dioxide equivalent

Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2.eq) is a measure used to compare and combine the warming effect of emissions from different greenhouse gases, using single measure of impact. This is done on the basis of a conversion factor known as the Global Warming Potential (GWP), which is the ratio of the total energy trapped by a unit of greenhouse gas (e.g. a tonne of methane) over a specific period of time (normally 100 years), to that trapped by carbon dioxide over the same time period.

Carbon intensity

The amount of carbon emissions that are produced to achieve a specific outcome. For example, the carbon intensity of electricity is the emission produced per unit of electricity supply.

Carbon price

A carbon price is a cost that must be paid for the right to produce a unit of carbon pollution. This may take the form of a carbon tax on pollution or an obligation to buy permits from a carbon market. In either case, the goal is to promote investment by polluters to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Carbon sequestration

Carbon sequestration is any process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored elsewhere, whether by biological or technological means. There are two main types of carbon sequestration, terrestrial (carbon plants and soils), and geologic (carbon stored in rock formations) . One classic example of carbon sequestration is reforestation.

Carbon sinks

A carbon sink is a reservoir (natural or artificial) which accumulates and stores carbon over time. The process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by increasing the sink capacity of the reservoir (which could be a soil) is called carbon sequestration