Have you ever heard of food swapping? Yes, bartering for food goes back gazillions of years to when the dinosaurs traded berries for eggs. However, in recent years, food swap events have popped up all over the nation and world. Basically, they are gatherings where people bring food and trade for food made by others. The only requirement is that the food be home made, home grown, home raised or foraged…which naturally puts an emphasis on using local and seasonal foods (and attracts lots of chemical-free/organic foods too!)
“What’s the benefit of food swapping?” Oh, I’m so glad you asked! There are MANY benefits…the first being it’s a super fun time! The second being food, duh. All funnies aside, some positives to a food swap include:
~Builds a solid food community
~Encourages home gardening
~Provides a great resource for food preservation (canning, freezing, fermenting, dehydrating, etc.)
~Supports local growers and farmer’s markets
~Diversifies your pantry – for example, if you jar 5 jars of strawberry jam from your homegrown berries, you can take that jam and swap for a jar of blueberry preserves, a loaf of bread, apple butter, jarred applesauce and pickles…now you have more than just strawberry jam
~Promotes culinary creativity – you can be as simple or elaborate as you want with your offerings
~Creates friendships, conversation and community networking
Around this time in 2013, I attended my first ever food swap: the Chicago Food Swap. I was instantly hooked on the food swapping idea. When I came home, I knew I needed to organize a swap in our immediate area. Therefore, the NWI Food Swap was born. Throughout 2013, interest in our group has grown and 2014 looks very promising. During our second swap year, we had one swap in February and had our second event, just yesterday. What a fun success! We had new faces along with many regular swappers; spirits were high and people really seemed to enjoy themselves. One swapper mentioned, “I have to say, one of the comments my husband made was how nice every one was!” True story. People ARE nice. And speaking of nice, we even have a secure venue for the entire year…how generous of Harvest Circle Workshop to lend us this perfect space.
If you are curious about what you might find at a swap, here are my before and after photos as an example. On the left, my offerings included 2 jars of pickled brussels sprouts, 2 jars of Asian yellow plum sauce, 2 jars of garlic dill pickles, 3 bottles of limoncello and 3 packages of sesame poppyseed onion bagels. To the right, you can see that I brought home: oatmeal raisin bread, red lentil hummus, tabouleh salad (OMG this is good), red raspberry jam, dehydrated strawberries, spaghetti sauce, orange cranberry bagels, flourless brownies and fresh raw goat’s milk cheese from Native Roots, a local non-profit organic educational farm. In all honesty, I did bring home one jar of the brussels and one bottle of limoncello. By the end of the swap, many of thing things I wanted were now gone and I was just as happy to take some of my items back home…that does happen according to attendance, variety of foods, preference, etc.
Facebook: NWI Food Swap
Our next swap is June 1st and my mind is already reeling about what to bring!