This resource is part of our Organic Production/Organic Food: Information Access Tools tutorial which identifies outstanding sources that address organic agriculture, research and information sources, contacts and experts, research funding sources, educational and career opportunities, and upcoming events.
For more information related specifically to how and where to search, see:
The unique nature of organic production and marketing makes searching on organic topics challenging. Why?
There are many unrelated topics connected with the word organic, such as organic chemistry, organic acids, and soil organic matter, that preclude searching on just the word organic with the expectation of meaningful results.
There is the confusing nomenclature associated with organic production: organics, organically grown, biodyamic, biological farming, ecological agriculture, and more - a host of almost synonymous terms. There are also many organic practices and organic commodities that may not always be labeled as such, but that may be relevant to a particular search, e.g. biological pest control, or natural foods.
There is the holistic nature of organic production itself. Particularly in the area of organic farming, one may need to consider the whole-farm, economic, political, philosophical, and economic aspects of organic. This is not easy to do, especially on discipline-focused databases.
2. Glossary of best keywords and phrases
Note on electronic searching: Terms or phrases with multiple forms of one word (e.g. farm/farms/farming) may be searched using truncation or stemming on search engines with these search capabilities. Phrases should be searched as phrases, e.g. enclosed with quotation marks (" "), whenever possible.
Using precise words and phrases is especially important in searching on organic topics. The following terms are used as descriptors of organic systems and/or are synonyms for organic systems.
2. Terminology Associated with Related Alternative Agriculture Systems and Disciplines
Terms that denote systems/practices that overlap, over-arch or include organic systems. Many of these terms are often confused with terms that pertain to strictly organic systems.
acupuncture# alternative medicine# (veterinary)
alternative therapy (veterinary) animal welfare# animal well-being#
bioenergetic medicine biological control# biological control agent(s)#
complementary medicine (veterinary)
herbal drug(s) herbal medicine(s)#
holistic medicine (veterinary) homeopathic drugs#
natural medicine(s) (veterinary)
Economics and marketing
community food systems community supported agriculture#/ community-supported agriculture/ CSA
CSA farm(s) direct marketing#
farm direct marketing
local food systems/local food distribution
on-farm processing organic certification#
regional food systems value-added# value-added products#
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library, ARS, USDA
10301 Baltimore Ave., Room 132
Beltsville MD 20705-2351
Phone: 301-504-6559; Fax: 301-504-6409 E-mail us http://afsic.nal.usda.gov