I heard about food swaps from friends who attended them. I’d see pictures of their goodies online and it looked like a lot of fun. I thought this was right up my alley because I help facilitate the Long Beach Time Exchange and I love sharing my time and resources. I also love being on the receiving end of people’s efforts and talents. This looked like a truly yummy sharing network.
Why do you love food swapping?
I love food swapping because it gives me a chance to develop my culinary creativity. I’ve also had fun sharing some of the tasty herbal remedies that I make and introducing people to the healing properties of plants in a palatable way. And then, of course, there is the bounty of treats that I get to take home each time: everything from fresh eggs to tiramisu, sauerkraut to rosemary syrup. It’s also fun interacting and swapping with the other participants. I was a little nervous at first, but it’s remarkably easy and it’s interesting to find out about everyone’s creations.
What do you do to prepare for a food swap? (What is your process? canning, fermenting, baking, harvesting ...)
So far I’ve shared what I like to call “herbal yumminess” at each swap. Sometimes it’s tinctures (alcohol extractions of herbs) to add to teas or cocktails. I’ve swapped syrups: ginger and dandelion root chai—both recipes shared with me by local herbalist Julie James. I also brought vegan ceviche to my first swap. I don’t always have a lot of time, so I think about what I have brewing (e.g., I usually have several tinctures in process) as well as things that I’d like to try (e.g., the ceviche was inspired by a dish I tried at a restaurant). I mainly work with plants and fresh foods, but I’m interested in starting to ferment and can foods.
What are some of your favorite items you have received at food swaps?
Some of my favorite items from food swaps are—there are too many to list! Ones that come to mind are mini French macaroons, sriracha sauce, raspberry lavender jam, a chai tea mix, beer … really, I know I am leaving some amazing things out. I’ve been happy with what I’ve got each time. It’s such a treat.
Any advice for first time swappers?
My advice for first time swappers is to relax and know that people are going to be excited by your creations. I’d recommend that people don’t bring too many items though. I’m usually happy trading 15-20 things. Less is fine. More is okay too, but you might have leftovers to bring home. I like to bring a few items of each thing that I’m swapping. I don’t think you can do this wrong though …