Organizing a food swap

I make really good strawberry jam and my neighbor makes mouth-watering Kringla. If we got together with others in our area to trade our specialty foods with each other, we’d have what’s known as a “food swap”.

Kate Payne, from Austin, Texas, is the originator of the food swap concept that is growing in popularity around the country. She says folks gather in groups of 10-to-25, and trade homemade, homegrown foods.

"For example, half-a-dozen eggs swapped for a jar of jam or jelly that you made, or a loaf of bread for some home-brewed beer. You know, just lots of cool different item-by-item swaps that you do," says Payne.

When you first get to the food swap, you set up your wares on a table and fill out a swap sheet.  The top part tells all about the item you’ve brought. The bottom part is for people to note that they’re interested in your item, and what they have to trade.

No money changes hands, but Payne says there’s plenty of negotiation going on – especially when the bell rings to officially start the food swap. She compares it to the opening of the stock market.

"It’s quiet, and people mingling but all of a sudden the volume goes up. Everyone’s trying to hash out their trades like, ‘oh I want some eggs, I’d love some of that kombucha, here’s what I got, would you want any of these?’ The swap sheets are a really good way to start that trading process because it helps people know who’s already interested in their items, who they might want to talk to," she explains. "You kind of hunt them down real fast at the swap."

You can host a food swap anywhere the goods can be set up such as your home or a community hall. There should be rules, but keep things simple by requiring swap items to be homemade, homegrown, or foraged.

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