The scale and nature of early cultivation are topics that have received relatively limited attention in research on the origins of agriculture. In Southwest Asia, one the earliest centers of origin worldwide, the transition to food production is commonly portrayed as a macroevolutionary process from hunter-gatherer through to cultivator-forager and farming stages. Climate change, resource intensification, sedentism, rising population densities, and increasing social complexity are widely considered by prehistorians as pivotal to the emergence of protoagricultural village life. In this paper we revisit these narratives that have been influenced by culture-history and social evolution, together forming the dominant theoretical paradigms in the prehistory of Southwest Asia. We propose a complementary contextual approach seeking to reconstruct the historical development of Early Holocene plant-food production and its manifold sociocultural environments by intersecting multiple lines of evidence on the biology of plant domestication, resource management strategies, settlement patterns, cultivation and harvesting technologies, food storage, processing and consumption, ritual practices and symbolic behaviors. Furthermore, we propose that early plant-food production in Southwest Asia should be dissociated from ethnographically derived notions of sedentary village life. Plants emerge as important components of community interactions and ritual performances involving suprahousehold groups that were mediated through communal food consumption.