For anyone who loves to bake, can, brew, or grow delicious things at home, a food swap is the perfect way to share your talents and sample those of others.
Food swaps are popping up all over the country as a fun way to share your homemade delicacies with other people who enjoy eating and creating good food just as much as you do. As the do it yourself food movement grows, food swaps are an inexpensive way to connect with others who are focusing on homemade and home grown.
My first swap experience was at the most recent food swap hosted by the Minneapolis Swappers. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked a room full of people and tables laden with a huge variety of homemade food and drink. I arrived late, but found a spot on one of the tables to display my sourdough rolls and cultured butter. I wasn’t sure of the exact procedure for getting ready to swap, but a veteran swapper made me feel welcome and quickly explained the process. After I got settled, I spent a few minutes checking out some of the items and mingling with other participants.
Before we actually swapped anything, everyone began “bidding” on the items they wanted. We walked around, trying not to bump into each other, noticing the contents of jars, nibbling on samples of shortbread, tasting jams, chai tea mix, bread, and crackers. Items for swapping included hummus, pesto, homemade tempeh, maple syrup, lots of jams and preserves, kombucha, barbeque sauce, fresh herbs and many more. Some swappers brought several of the same thing, other people brought a variety, such as different jams or pestos.
Next to each item, there was an information sheet about the ingredients and as space to write your name to be considered for trading. When I saw something that I wanted to take home, I wrote my name down and noted what I could offer in exchange. Nearly everything people brought had a full list of people who would like to take it home in trade.
After everyone had a chance to bid, the actual swapping began. It turned out that the bidding sheets were mostly a guideline. Not everyone who had something I wanted was interested in what I had to offer. This worked out fine since I wasn’t expecting to get anything in particular, just looking forward to trying some new things. At first I was nervous that no one would want my rolls or butter, but they turned out to be very well received. During the swapping process, I found some of the people who wanted what I had brought and with a series of quick exchanges I ended up with blueberry lime sauce, pineapple strawberry jam, maple syrup, lavender shortbread cookies, stroop waffles, mixed berry jam, and strawberry hibiscus jam.
Since I love to cook, bake, and preserve, the swap provided me with an opportunity to share what I made with people who were eager to try it. Although it may not be completely mainstream, many people are deeply engaged in the economic shift from store bought to homemade as well as the satisfaction that comes from making things from scratch. Food swaps are the logical (and fun) extension of this interest in making rather than buying. At a swap you can share your specialties and come home with plenty of different homemade foods to keep your pantry stocked. It’s a chance to expand on what we make in our own kitchens and make connections by sharing not only our tastes and interest in homemade, but the food itself.