Swappers Do It For Free

Stop the presses.  All I can say is get aboard this train.  Swap food!  Do it now, find an event, organize your own, take the initiative. That's right.  Get together with your local food-lovers, and trade for their handmade treats.  The idea is simple and brilliant.  Trade, no money required, no money allowed.

I know, right?  Dream come true.  Absolute heaven.

I have been reading about food swaps for what seems to be years, but they always took place in the chic cosmo towns.  I read, I drooled, I dreamed.

Then, last week, I saw the free (Fa-ree!!!!) tickets become available for Mile High Swappers, and I did not waste a single second in claiming my ticket.  Afterwards, I felt a little shell-shocked, realizing that I had to reschedule a work appointment, and decide what food to take along.  But let me tell you right here, right now, this event rocked my world.

I know that you think that Butterpoweredbike is a suave and sophisticated player in the food world.  But the truth is that I spend most of my free time tromping around fields and riding the ditches alone, hori hori at my side, collecting plants, talking and singing to myself, generally giving the appearance of insanity.   It only recently occurred to me that I should connect with like-minded locals.  Duh, right?

Ok, so I admit that sometimes I'm a slow learner.

But when I heard about Mile High Swappers, I knew, I knew, that I'd have something in common with the people there.

And you know what?  I was right.  I met some amazing people at the swap - people who didn't look at me, offering up my spruce preserves, like I had two heads.  People who didn't look queasy at the mention of roadkill, people who eat meat and value animal fats, people who understand what it means to eat for pleasure.

Yeah, ok, so I was raised in isolation, and never really mastered the art of small talk.  I'm slow to warm up, and then when I get excited, I tend to jump up and down and clap my hands.  There is a word for people like me, nerd.  So there you go, I'm waving my nerd flag, I feel no shame.

But get this.  At a food swap, even a foraging food-loving nerd is welcome.  Although, I suspect I was the recipient of a few pity swaps, otherwise known as the foodie high-five.  Don't worry, I'm in no way bruised.

For those of you new to food swapping, here's the skinny.  As I've mentioned, I had to sign up ahead of time, but the ticket was free.  The swap was held at beautiful Ollin Farms.  People showed up with their treats, put them on display, offered samples, and everyone has an hour to meet and greet and sample and plot and plan.  Then, at the top of the second hour, a buzzer went off (ok, not literally, but my imagination enjoyed adding that detail), and the race to obtain the best trades began, people running about with mason jars and boxes and bundles, gleefully shouting and throwing hip checks, hoping to get their most coveted treat.  A bit of madness, mind you, but all in the name of tasty fun.

But at this, my first food swap, I ended up being far more interested in talking with the other swappers than in trading for the best treats (and trust me, there were some primo treats there - handmade breads and starters, ice cream, wild meats and good eggs, freshly picked herbs and veg, jellies sauces and preserves - seriously, far better than any artisinal market, and did I mention that it was free!).  But I found my peeps - people who are interesting in gardening and foraging, who are intrigued by what it means to really eat locally.  These are people who collect canning jars, go to thrift stores and garage sales, save seeds, harvest unwanted fruit, make small-batch local foods, passionate folks who are a part of the zeitgeist of bartering do-it-your-selfers.  Yeah, I know, kindred spirits!  The energy was entirely positive - an energy which said that we can decide for ourselves what is good, what we value, and operate on our own terms - that we can, at the same time, thrive and lift each other up, do good things and be happy.

I am moved to tears recalling it (oh, knock it off, you already know I'm a big mush).  I am buoyed with energy and my head is spinning with ideas.  In short, I am inspired... and my fridge is full of hand-crafted treats.  Win win win win win!

I'm sharing with Real Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday.

Popular Posts