A taste of ethical consumption at a slow food festival

Lauren T. Williams, John Germov, Sascha Fuller, Maria Freij

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines the motives and experiences of attendees at a Slow Food festival to gain an understanding of how people engage with ethical consumer projects. Slow Food is a global social movement aimed at promoting food that is regionally, ethically, and sustainably produced, and convivially consumed. The movement uses culinary tourist events, such as food festivals and farmers' markets, to promote its philosophy and attract new members. There have been no empirical studies of ethical consumption using a Slow Food event as a case study. This study uses an ethnographic approach and a framework of virtue ethics to explore the views of people attending a major Slow Food festival in the city of Melbourne, Australia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in situ with 33 participants (19 consumers and 14 stallholders) to discover their rationales for attending the festival, and their perspectives on ethical consumption. Transcripts were coded and thematically analysed, resulting in three themes reflecting varying degrees of public virtues (altruistic motivations) and private virtues (personal wellbeing): the quest for virtuous lifestyles through ethical consumption, the importance of co-production, and the challenges of putting ethical consumer projects like Slow Food into daily practice. The findings reveal the manner in which virtue ethics affects foodways and highlights the contingent and challenging nature of practising ethical eating.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)321-328
    Number of pages8
    Early online date28 Apr 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2015


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