Who speaks of food speaks of women. This is because, in spite of the fact that most chefs are men, it is women who have to provide meals every day all over the planet; imagine more than a billion women who every day are cooking for themselves and their families, in every corner of the world and at almost every hour: you get a sense of the importance of the role of family and household among the other half of the human equation.
It is also women who deal mainly in horticulture, farming poultry, collecting herbs and wild fruits, nearly everywhere around the world.
Since the Paleolithic period, mankind has recognized women in an undisputed life-giving role, symbolized also by the so-called Paleolithic Venuses, opulent female statuettes that through their generous shapes represented motherhood and a nurturing role.
Many scholars, including some archaeologists argue that it was women, forever involved in the collection of herbs, flowers and fruits, who came to understand the mechanisms of birth and how to grow plants, and that, as a result of their deep and the maternal insights, agriculture and the domestication of plants came into being.
Women have an almost exclusive role of feeding and weaning babies, from helping children take their breast milk to their first solid foods, and making sure they acquire the food preferences of their own culture. We know that our tastes, our food idiosyncrasies, our preferences are formed early in life, and everything depends on the women of the family in which we were born and raised, primarily mothers.
Even agro-biodiversity is up to women, as it is mainly women all over the world, in their small gardens and family orchards, who preserve local varieties of vegetables, legumes and fruits, precious in maintaining traditional dietary practices and food sovereignty, that is, the ability to feed oneself with self-grown produce.
Finally, women work in the major food chains in the world, in fields and pastures, but also at food processing companies and in the kitchens of dining facilities, cafes, self-service restaurants and at the tables. They are often involved in the sale of products in rural markets. The nurturing role that sets them apart is also reflected in the shape, aroma and flavor given to food, on a daily basis. 2014 was chosen by the United Nations as the International Year of Family Farming
; numerous agencies and non-governmental organizations have launched programs to support rural women by giving them this fundamental role of nurturers, without whom humanity would not have come this far.