Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Prussing, Erica S

First Committee Member

Marshall, Mac

Second Committee Member

Colloredo-Mansfeld, Rudolf

Third Committee Member

Beck, Margaret

Fourth Committee Member

Witt, Doris


With over 100,000 members in 153 countries, the Slow Food movement emphasizes the ethical and social dimensions of eating habits by creating a new kind of socially and ecologically aware consumerism. However, Slow Food's rhetorical emphasis on the agency of the consumer obscures the parallel role of the food producer, complicating inquiry into the broad claims for social justice presented by the movement. This dissertation examines the tension between the ideologies and practices of Slow Food and the locally-situated goals of small-scale food producers working to create economic, ecologic and cultural sustainability on daily basis. Multi-sited ethnographic research conducted in Italy between 2006-2009 explores 1) international, national, and regional Slow Food events and 2) everyday life and work on a Tuscan agriturismo (farm-based tourism estate). Through an analysis of discursive messages that consumers receive, on the one hand, and the experiences of food producers on the other, I argue that Slow Food's restructuring of the consumer/producer relationship may play out on paper and at conferences--and sometimes even at the table--but it does so less often and less obviously on fields and farms.

Current scholarly work on alternative food networks emphasizes the structural and economic processes that connect food producers to politically-conscious consumers. I extend and elaborate this discussion through a critical analysis of Slow Food's rhetorical and discursive strategies, and link these findings to my ethnographic study of small-scale, organic food producers in Italy. An emphasis on the relationships between producers and consumers underscores the changing nature of society's relationship to food production and consumption, highlighting the reflexivity of Slow Food in response to local, national, and global change.


consumption, food, Italy, production, Slow Food


viii, 217 pages


Copyright 2011 Rachel Anne Horner Brackett

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