A few months ago I posted a video of a food swap in Portland. The idea of meeting my neighbors to share our homemade, homegrown, and foraged foods was so inspiring that I decided to start a food swap in my own area ... and am totally convinced that everyone else should do the same! In a food swap, no money changes hands and participants simply trade foods they made, grew, or found themselves. One person might bring homemade bread, another several jars of fruit preserves, and another herbs from their garden. Bring 20 fresh baked scones to the swap and you might go home with lemon curd, garlic confit, lavender, handmade pasta, salsa, shortbread, and more.
It's a way to diversify one's pantry, for sure, but even more than that, I discovered how special it is to bring people together to share the bounty of their labor and creativity. Nearly all of the swappers at my first event were strangers to begin with (assembled by the power of social media and word of mouth!) but wound up in boisterous conversation telling stories about what they'd made, trading canning tips, and talking about the neighborhood. Many of us were excited to finally meet other people who shared our passion not just for eating, but for making local food.
Whether you hold a swap with 5 people or 50, I highly recommend giving it a try. You'll come away with new foods – and friendships. To learn more about how I did it, you can visit the Los Angeles Food Swap site, which also includes links to existing food swaps around the world (a new one seems to pop up every day!).
These are also really good resources that I turned to when learning about swaps:
Have you organized or attended a food swap? Or are you inspired to do it now? Tell us about your experience!
Related: Food Swap: Start Your Own!
(Images: Gregory Han)