While my homesteading skills are admittedly amateur, I have been deeply enticed by the idea of a Food Swap. Some Philadelphia foodies recently began a series of free events where like-minded DIY canners, bakers, and picklers get together to swap their wares. It sounded like an urban homesteader’s dream. But what could I bring to the table?
I decided last minute to whip up whatever I could based on what I had in the house. Some butternut squash and zucchini could yield two decent loaves of bread that I could cut in half. And I had just enough flour leftover to power through five challahs, also large enough to cut in half for swapping portions, though not exactly elegant.
I arrived to find about 25 swappers setting up their tables. These were no amateur swappers. Their canning jars were complete with homemade hang tags donning printed logos. I had no ribbons and bows. I had scribbled-on mailing labels and plastic wrap. And, of course, someone else made challah. Not just regular challah, mind you, but elegantly portioned challahs stuffed with peanut butter and chocolate. My bread looked sad.
I imagined that we could just walk through and make offers. But there was a more formal order in which you were meant to spend an hour sampling and writing your offers for your top picks. And for a while I had no offers. Eventually, three swappers felt sorry for me and wrote on my little paper.
But ultimately the sign-ups were meaningless. When it was time to swap, you just scrambled over to your top picks and begged them to swap with you. And I made out like a bandit.
I had my eye on some pumpkin gnocchi and a jar or pickles. I booked over to those tables with breads in hand and asked to swap as if I was a starving child asking for a crust of bread. And in the end I got almost everything I wanted.
Next time, I will come better prepared. I need to make large quantities of something truly interesting and I need more samples. I need to print labels instead of scribbling them. I need to kick some food swapping ass.