Bartering for Food: Would You Do It?

Bartering for Food: Would You Do It?

Emma Christensen
Feb 17, 2009

Or maybe a better question is have you ever done it? Everyone's looking for ways to save money and trim down the food budget these days. Maybe it's time to return to the barter system...

Bartering simply means exchanging one kind of goods or services for another kind of goods or services. We're familiar with the concept, of course, but finding ways to apply it to our modern lives can feel awkward.

Farmshares and CSAs provide a good model to start from. As part of many of CSA agreements, we spend time working on the farm itself. This is exchanging labor for food. Neighborhood co-ops where working in the store is traded for a discount on their food works as another obvious example.

We could also see starting to barter more within our neighborhood community. We could do food swaps (as in the picture above), or trade excess produce from backyard gardens for services like car repair, an hour of yard work, or even knitting a wool cap. We could also offer to cook meals for someone in exchange for use of their lawn mower or access to a parking space.

An independent bookstore in our area has started holding a monthly "Recession Party." This is swiftly becoming a place where people can connect and talk about things like bartering for food and services. We love this idea and hope to see similar community forums start becoming more popular.

Does anyone have any other ideas or stories about bartering successes?

(For the locals, the store mentioned above is Rhythm & Muse Bookstore, 470 Centre Street, in Jamaica Plain, MA. The next party is Friday, 2/27, and all are welcome!)

Related: Fallen Fruit: A Collaborative Community Project

(Image: Flickr member London Permaculture licensed under Creative Commons)

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