What is a Food Swap?
A food swap is an organized gathering of anywhere from a few close friends, to a large group of people from a greater metropolitan area. It is an opportunity for people to swap home made, home grown or wild harvested foods. You might meet once a month, quarterly, or once a year.
It is a great opportunity to come together as a community of like minded people, and to make some new friends. This also gives you the opportunity to get ideas and learn new skills from other Foodies!
How does the Food Swap work?
The format is totally up to the group that is gathering, but most often they last about two hours.
The first half hour is for signing in, setting up your goodies, and greeting each other. It is suggested that you bring at least 6 items to trade. These can all be one type of item (maybe you made LOTS of your gourmet marmalade), or it can be 6 separate things. But by all means, bring as many items as you want to swap at each gathering. The more you bring, the more you may take home. It is customary to have samples available of your item, so that people can try it out. And you should also have a label either on the item, or on your table that clearly states what ingredients are in it, and if it needs to be refrigerated.
The next half hour to hour is the time to wander around and scope out what everyone else brought, and try the samples that appeals to you. There will be a sheet in front of each item, often with a minimum of 10 slots for people to sign up on. You sign up for the goodies that you would like to trade for. This gives each person a reference of who is interested in what they brought.
The last half hour is when the actual swapping takes place. Depending on the size of the gathering this can be a whirlwind of activity, as everyone hustles for the people that they are interested in trading with. Just because someone didn’t sign up on your sheet, don’t be shy about approaching them about a swap. You don’t have a chance of getting something if you don’t give it a try! And don’t be offended if someone turns you down on a swap offer, or don’t hesitate to turn someone down (politely of course). We all have different tastes in food, and someone might just not be interested in the taste sensation of the treat you brought along.
And lastly, some food swap gatherings have a pot luck aspect to them. Everyone brings a dish, and you enjoy a community dinner together! This is a great time to learn more about the items that you are really intrigued by.
Where can I find a Food Swap?
The Food Swap Network makes it easy to find any organized food swaps in your area. If you live in an area that has not developed it’s own swap yet; I highly recommend putting the word out in your community, or pulling together a group of friends and going for it! The first couple gatherings might be pretty small if you are starting from scratch, but I bet you will soon find your foodie group!