This article draws on anthropological perspectives to explore "critical consumption" in Palermo. It elaborates on why organic and fair-trade goods are identified by shoppers as valuable sites for critical consumption. Adopting a framework inspired by Mauss' theory of exchange, fair-trade and organic shopping in Palermo can be interpreted as a current way for middle-class citizens to widen the circle of their desired society through the circulation of these ethical commodities. However, no study of ethical consumption in Palermo can ignore the ways that contemporary politico-economic patterns mediate individuals' (class-based) perceptions of the social effects of their purchasing power. Following some of Bourdieu's suggestions, the comparisons expressed by Palermo's middle-class ethical shoppers between their own consumption choices and those of other people point to complex processes of distinction.