Here's one way to differentiate between end grain and edge grain.
Imagine you have a fist-full of soda straws. With the straws running the length , you have "edge grain", with the ends pointing up you have "end grain. All wood is composed of hollow fibers that transport water, and held together by lignin, a natural wood "glue".
Wood is a commodity and comes in many, many forms. For years, "Michigan Maple" brand was found all over Canada for butcher's blocks and baker's tables. Most of it came from Quebec, Canada which is also famous for maple syrup.
Cutting a log into lumber is an art. If you were to slice the log into slices--like a carrot, you have "flat-sawn" lumber featuring the typical "cathederal flame" grain pattern. Flat-sawn is more prone to warping and cupping than quarter sawn or rived wood. Quarter sawn lumber is made when you quarter the log, then cut the quarters into slices. This lumber is very stable and has very little warping--if any. Riven or split wood is where you split log rounds into slices. Since wood splits along it's fibers, this results in the strongest, straightest wood with darn near 0 shrinkage, but is the most labour intensive method to produce. It is not done commercially, but many custom chair makers do it.
Trees growing on mountain slopes or in stressed conditions result in lousy lumber--always warping in the direction that the tree was stressed in. Orchard or back-yard trees commonly yield screws, nails, bullets, lead shot, car springs(!) and even the odd horse-shoe or two. Not all that great for saws or operators....
Kiln dried lumber has advantages and disadvantages. For construction lumber it is great, for furniture grade not so great, and can be prone to "case hardening" (baked on the outside, and when you cut into it, reacts violently) and serious checking. Most serious high quality wood workers prefer air dried lumber, which takes a lot longer--usually 1 year per inch of thickness to season properly.
I've got an old monster butcher's block, about 24" x 30" and about 20" thick, weighs about 300 lbs. It's all end grain construction, but dove tailed. That is, each strip of wood is shaped with a "female" wedge on one side and a "male" wedge on the other that interlock. It won't come apart unless I take a chainsaw to it.
Whatever you choose, remember that wood is a natural material, it swells with humidity changes and shrinks with humidity changes. It stains easily from contact with wet metal and some fruits, an it is far, far , far more easier to look at than plain-jane white nylon boards.