Glossary: F

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 (12) | B (4) | C (13) | D (3) | E (8) | F (7) | G (4) | H (2) | I (6) | L (5) | M (11) | N (3) | O (4) | P (5) | R (6) | S (9) | T (1) | U (1) | W (4) | Y (1) | Z (1)


The Food and Agriculture Organisation is a specialised agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to leading international efforts to defeat hunger worldwide.

Feed conversion efficiency

Feed conversion efficiency is a measure of how much feed is required to produce a certain amount of a desired output. Such outputs may be animal weight, the amount of milk or meat produced, or even nutritional value measured in calories or grams of protein. It is a metric used to compare animal breeds and species in terms of their ability to convert feed into food available for human consumption.

Food chain

is the hierarchical network constituted by the succession of organisms that eat other organisms and may, in turn, be eaten themselves. The position an organism occupies in a food chain is indicated by its trophic level. Plants, algae and phytoplankton constitute the lowest trophic level, whereas predators and carnivores constitute the highest trophic levels. Many humans consume food from different trophic levels, while those following vegetarian and vegan diets consume all or most of their food from the primary trophic level.

Food security

Food security is an idealised state or goal where all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Food sovereignty

Food sovereignty is a political movement that emphasises the rights of food producers, distributors and consumers to have control over the food system, as opposed to coorporations and market institutions. It has been defined as the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

Forest degradation

Forest degradation is the long-term reduction in the overall capacity of a forest to produce or provide benefits, such as carbon storage, biodiversity, wood, and other products due to environmental and anthropogenic alterations.

Functional unit

This term refers to the product, service or system whose impacts a life-cycle assessment (LCA) calculates. Common examples of food-related functional units are 1 kg of beef, 100 calories of food, or 1 ha of land. The choice of functional unit influences an LCA’s results and care is needed when comparing the results of LCAs with different functional units. The functional unit is defined in the first phase of a life-cycle assessment study – that of goal and scope definition.