True story, dude.
We did. We drove THREE FREAKIN’ HOURS to swap food…and it was totally worth it.
Take a look at this venue. It’s City Market in downtown Indianapolis. Wouldn’t YOU drive three hours to swap gourmet home made food with 40 other strangers? Don’t you shake your head; it’s a fabulous time!
In all reality, we didn’t mean to drive that long. From our house to Indy usually takes 2+ hours. You have a choice of two routes: 1.) Take a 55 mph 2 lane highway through a gazillion little towns all with their own 35 mph speed traps or 2.) Take the four lane highway with a 60 mph speed limit but quite a few stoplights. The obvious answer is #2, right? WRONG. We might have sort of forgotten that Indiana is putting in a major highway from South Bend to Indianapolis and the construction goes right through that area. We thought we were on top of our game by taking the quicker route, maybe even to have time to stop somewhere good and grab a bite to eat. Instead, we got to the swap almost a half hour late and I was a frazzled, hot mess.
Back in February, I attended my very first food swap in Chicago. I was immediately addicted and decided to organize Indiana’s second swap group, The NWI Food Swap (there are now FOUR groups in Indiana – NEI and Btown.) Last Saturday’s event was my first time attending an Indy Food Swap and I’m sure I came in like an “Oh-my-gosh-an-OCD-control-freak-out-of-control” tornado. However, everyone was so pleasant, helpful and welcoming. Immediately, the organizer, Suzanne guided us to tables and we quickly set up our offerings. Three of us combine brought: Duck Egg Noodles, Pear Orange Cranberry Conserve, Jarred Pears in Light Cane Syrup, Bags of Crystalized Ginger, Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes and Jars of Pumpkin Pie Spice.
After setting up, we quickly made our ways around the room, signing swap sheets of items in which we would like to barter. As soon as Suzanne said “SWAP,” everyone ran like they were out for blood. Some people loaded up their whole table into a bag and walked around trading instead of waiting for people to come to them. I was taking goods over to tables that were empty! Our NWI swap is so laid back that I don’t think I quite expected that, although the “race” to wanted items was quite exciting.
Requiring some fast footwork, I hunted down the “beer lady” and the “cheese lady” while finishing up trades. As a collective, here is what we brought home: mocha roasted almonds, granola, fresh mozzarella, red bell pepper & sweet potato soup, red velvet twinkies, Black Heart coffee syrup & concentrates, preserved lemons, candied jalapenos, sweet chili garlic sauce, rosemary pear preserves, tomato jam, stout chocolate sauce, hot fudge caramel sauce, hummus, baba ghanoush, labneh, various salad dressings, new potatoes, apple tomato chutney, ketchup, chipotle cherry jam, pickled mushrooms, curried yogurt dip, milk stout homebrew, wasabi sriacha snack mix, triple bitter homebrew, imperial porter homebrew, poppyseed dressing, blueberry lime preserves, blueberry butter and irish cream. How’s THAT for some gourmet fun?
As if that’s not enough excitement for you, how about this little fact…all four of Indiana’s food swap organizers were AT.THIS.SWAP. Seriously, stop the press. Unfortunately, Erin of Btown left before the photo was taken, but she was there! On the left is Suzanne of Indy, Mary of NEI and me of the NWI (Sidenote: I just watched Robin Hood with my son and now, fully believe that everyone should be named “of” somewhere…silly and senseless, but that’s just me. *sticking out tongue in 12 year old fashion*)
I know you are green with envy of my food haul; I would be. That being said, food swaps are now in almost all corners of our state. Be sure to follow group happenings through their facebook pages and don’t hesitate to join in! Not only is it a great time, but builds community, friendship and a spirit of giving. Since food swapping makes use of many locally grown items and helps reduce food waste, swap events can be considered a sustainable practice. Some groups, such as ours, even compost their food scraps and recycle as much waste as possible. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, we took the two lane highway home.