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Abstract

The Slow Food Movement (SFM) has been characterized as a reminder of the centrality of the kitchen in the “good old days”. It has also been referred to as a poor use of science posing as a rallying point for the beleaguered middle class trying to reclaim psychological territory lost to the fast-paced commercialization of what was once private or leisure time. This paper argues that both these criticisms contain more than a kernel of truth. However, each misses the mark when it comes to explaining the relative successes of SFM. In this paper, we explore SFM’s basic ideological premises. It is neither a simple return to a traditional society nor a poorly formulated anti-consumerist position. Rather, from an ideological framing, SFM employs a “big tent” strategy drawing upon the positions of other lifestyle movements such as voluntary simplicity, localism, green consumption and communitarian social capital movements. This “big tent” of overlapping ideological positions is helpful in creating a credible set of alliances and a mass following. Moreover, SFM insists that a small but basic lifestyle change, namely, investing more quality time in the acquisition, preparation and sharing of fresh food - can ripple outwards and offer benefits to individuals, but also via selective consumption, put pressure on transnational firms, agri-business and banks to heed the demands of those in the “movement”. This paper concludes with a discussion of both the costs and complications of the “big tent” ideology and how SFM has attempted to keep each of these within its reach.