Giada De Laurentiis Is Taking Huge Steps to Empower Women in 2018
Giada De Laurentiis: charming Food Network star (and Food Network Star host), Italian chef extraordinaire, cookbook author — and, now, the face, brains and heart behind a new gourmet popcorn line.
In partnership with Simply7, De Laurentiis' new line boasts authentic Italian flavors and clean ingredients and comes in three flavors: sea salt and olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and butter. The best part about the popcorn line, though? It helps support women pursuing careers in agriculture too.
"As a mother and woman who achieved success in a male-dominated industry, I feel strongly about supporting and encouraging women in all aspects of their life," De Laurentiis told SheKnows, "and am especially committed to helping women in food-related industries."
Proceeds from the sale of the popcorn will benefit the Fund Her Farm initiative, which inspires new generations of female farmers by donating to organizations that help fund scholarships, programs and events that empower female farmers across the United States. The long-term goal? To eventually source all corn from female farmers.
"People don't realize how many farms are actually run by women," she said, "and I wanted to do my part to bring attention to that and to the need to inspire future generations of farmers to keep fostering the tradition of bringing high-quality ingredients to our tables."
We spoke to De Laurentiis further about why she believes it's so important for female farmers to become the sole source of corn for her brand, her career advice to women in farming, which popcorn is daughter Jade's favorite and so much more.
SheKnows: You are quoted as saying that women farmers are the best at what they do. In what ways?
Giada De Laurentiis: Women are natural nurturers, so it makes sense that women in agricultural industries will give that extra care and attention to cultivate a very high-quality product. I think it's less about one group being better than another, and more about women farmers needing to get the credit they deserve for the significant role they play in their industry.
SK: Why is it important to you that female farmers become your brand's sole source of corn?
GD: For me, it's about using this opportunity with Simply7 to help female farmers gain more visibility and shining a spotlight on all of the amazing work they do to get the food we eat on our tables. When I was in Peru, I was lucky enough to meet with several women who had taken over their families' farms once the men moved to find jobs in the city. It was such an inspiring thing to witness and motivated me all the more to offer my support. I think we're experiencing an exciting time in our history where women everywhere are looking to rally around each other, and this initiative with Simply7 is a way for me to do just that.
SK: Which popcorn flavor is your daughter Jade's favorite?
GD: One thing that is so important to me as a mom is finding food for my daughter made with ingredients I feel great about, so it's been so meaningful for me to work with a company like Simply7 that takes such care and attention choosing the ingredients in its products. On top of that, for our popcorn collaboration, I was able to incorporate flavors that reflect my Italian heritage.
Jade loves to snack on the butter flavor made with organic, clarified butter from pasture-raised cows. It's such a classic flavor, and the use of blue and red heritage corn gives it a nuttier flavor and texture that really elevates it compared to other brands. In addition to snacking on it, she likes when I toast the popcorn just a bit and toss it into some of her favorite dishes — on top of a Caesar salad or creamy tomato soup — to add an extra crunch.
SK: As Jade grows up, how do you see your career and lifestyle changing? How will your goals as a parent change?
GD: I think the older Jade gets, the more I find myself wanting to do more to lift other women up and do my part to effect change and create a world where she will have more opportunities. I've always been involved in various charitable projects, but more recently, I've been thinking about how I can make my mark to affect change in the world, and I look for projects — like the Fund Her Farm partnership with Simply7 — that will help me do just that.
SK: What women have empowered you and how?
GD: Growing up in my family, there was a lot of emphasis put on encouraging the men to have drive to do something big with their lives and careers. For the women, there weren't a lot of expectations beyond getting married and starting a family. That is why my Aunt Raffy [Raffaella De Laurentiis], a successful Hollywood producer, is such an inspiration to me. She decided to achieve big things for herself despite family expectations, and I've always looked up to her and thought, "That is the kind of woman I want to be."
SK: Do you have any career advice for women either looking to get into farming or in the beginning phases of it?
GD: My advice would be if you love what you do, then there is no challenge you won't be able to overcome. The country needs young, hardworking female farmers to evolve and modernize the agriculture industry so it can meet the challenges of tomorrow.
SK: What was the best career advice you've received?
GD: Don't make decisions based solely on money. You should decide your next move based on if it is in line with your values and where you want to progress in your career, not how much money you will make.
In addition to supporting female farmers, De Laurentiis has been busy promoting her new cookbook, Giada's Italy, which was released on April 3. "It's all about entertaining the Italian way and gets back to the basics of Italian culture. All recipes are inspired by Rome, and my family and I recently spent time shooting photos and meals in Italy and had such a blast!" she says.