This essay explores how food activists in Italy purposely shape food and language to construct meaning and value. It is grounded in years of ethnographic fieldwork on food and culture in Italy and looks specifically at the Slow Food Movement. The essay explores language and food activism through a detailed unpacking of the text of a menu prepared for a restaurant dinner for delegates to the Slow Food National Chapter Assembly in 2009. The menu uses descriptive poetic language to construct an idealized folk cuisine steeped in local products, poverty, history, and peasant culinary traditions. As I explore the language of the menu and the messages communicated by the food, I ask if they intensify people’s activism, advance Slow Food’s goals of “good, clean and fair food,” and promote food democracy.

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