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.


  1. What an amazing concept. I don't think I've ever heard of a free swap for food-stuffs before...but I'd definitely be the first in line to grab tickets. And I think you're right in that one major benefit would be meeting like-minded peeps. So wonderful!!

  2. I have never heard of such a thing, but what a wonderful idea. I hope there are many more in your future!

  3. FYI - I really did want your spruce tips jelly - not a pity swap by any means and I've been raving it up!

  4. Hey-I totally wanted the spruce salt. My bad. I "overextended" my food credit. I even ran out of my sample granola! It was a BLAST to meet you. Can't wait till the next swap. (I'll miss June's, but I'm gearing up for July!)

  5. I should check that swap out! I wanted to tell you that this weekend my family was going to a graduation, and one of my sons plucked a handful of spruce tips off a tree and tossed them at his brother. The offended brother came to me for justice, but I was all excited about the spruce tips. "Hey, guys, you can EAT THESE!"
    They were skeptical, but I made them all try them, and now my middle boy, Max (12), has been walking around with a pocketful ever since, snacking on them. He calls them citrus nibbles, and if people get too pushy about questioning him, he claims they are helping him quit smoking (Max is something of a smart ass. He will tell you, though, that he prefers "smartest ass").
    We're going to make shortbread with them. This is our inagural foraging adventure. I just wanted to tell you.
    And thank you.

  6. Great share we are having our first swap June 19th get on your bike and come over love your blog

  7. Heather - My friend, you've got to find one of these. It is sooo fun. You'd love every minute of it!

    BLD - You can bet that I will be attending every last one possible, if I can get tickets (I'm anticipating that the tickets are going to get harder and harder to obtain).

    Eve - I guess I got a little psyched out by that article. But I wouldn't have minded a pity swap. I realize that my food is a little "out there." Had your soup for lunch, btw!

    Amy - I know! I've sooooo gotta bring more stuff next time so that I can score more! The spruce salt was easy to make, I just combined really good celtic grey sea salt with spruce tips in my mortar and pestle. I've got the recipe here on my blog, I should probably link it ;)

    Kira - Too funny! Gotta say I admire Maxs' spunk. Let me know how the shortbread turned out. I begged poor Bek to send me some when she made it, and I don't regret it. I'll hit her up for that tasty treat any day, I'm not proud. So excited that you are taking advantage of wild foods; you wouldn't believe the smile on my face right now!!!

    Lani - Where? I'm there.

  8. I'm sooo envious! That sounds like the best event ever!!!! I'm totally a food nerd too! I wonder how to go about organizing one? Because I sincerly doubt they existe here in France... You're so lucky! Enjoy your new friends and tell us a little bit about what you'll be exchanging at these swaps!

  9. Very cool. I would love to have a food swap in the area too. Not sure where to start looking. Whoa, think of the fa-ree! :-)
    Come & Play: Thursday Two Questions

  10. What a cool experience. I have heard of canning parties, but never swapping parties. I think your spruce jelly is pretty darn cool, and I'm glad you found others locally who thought the same !

  11. There's something so gorgeously subversive about this that I can't help but smile. I love it! Quietly revolutionary in very real ways.

  12. AH - I can put you in touch with the organizers, if you'd like. Email me.

    SS - Found it on facebook.

    Renee - I sort of hate to admit that it was the most fun I've had in ages, a dream come true. But the good news is that there are more to come.

    Mark! I'm smiling too :) Always nice to hand out a great big FU finger, and eat well, too.

  13. Sounds glorious - especially finding more like minded people - what a wonderful event!

  14. Christy - I'm happy to report that I've made more than a handful of friends that I want to keep close to my heart. How wonderful is that!


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