I first learned about “food swaps” when I read an article in the online Bamboo magazine. The drool-inducing food photography captivated me and I was taken with the idea of “building cupboards and community with home-produced edibles.” I instantly started to think how we could replicate this idea in Del Ray.
Reading on, I learned that food swaps are being held in many cities already, but as far as I knew, not here. So, I set out to join the movement and host an event where fellow cooks, gardeners, and foodies alike would come together for a potluck and exchange of handmade or hand-foraged food items, like backyard eggs, hand-picked herbs and vegetables, homemade sorbet and sangria, and freshly packed dill pickles.
Katie and I planned out the DIY Del Ray Summer Food Swap to occur at the height of summer, when garden produce is at its peak. We researched the logistics of other food swaps and decided on a location – our friend Heidi’s spacious and festive back deck.
Heidi, Katie, and I each chose between five to seven friends each whom we thought would dig the idea. We wrote to them and described the logistics and later sent out a formal evite.
The Way a Food Swap Works
Each person brings about five or so (as many as they like) of the item the want to share. For example, Lori brought six bags, each holding about five freshly laid chicken eggs from her backyard flock.
We display the goods on tables. On forms, we write our name, the item, any special notes (like “gluten-free” or “has nuts”), and then leave room for others (bidders) to write their names.
We stressed to guests that they not fuss over the packaging. Simple is best. We didn’t want anyone to feel any pressure to impress. Most used simple handmade labels, mismatched jars, or simple bags and reused bottles.
We encouraged everyone to bring a potluck item and beverage as well. In the evite, guests commented on what they planned to bring so we’d be sure to have a nice mix of salads, dips, and appetizers.
Let the Swapping Begin
After the guests arrived, donned name tags, and mingled a bit, I announced the start of the swap.
Everyone walked around and had a look at all of the items and wrote their names on the cards for the items they hoped to take. Then, I started the trading part by taking a jar of my granola to the first person on my list. Soon, everyone was doing the same, swapping items left and right.
It seemed a little “loose” in terms of the rules of play, but it all went down surprisingly smoothly.
Everyone went home a winner, arms full of some or all of the following array of edibles:
- Bloody Mary Mix
- Sour dill pickles
- Nutty Power Bars
- Oat Bars
- Sponge Candy
- Pizza dough
- Zucchini Cake
- Cucumbers and lavender
- Cherry Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers
After the exchange ended, there was more mingling and snacking from the potluck table. Several guests came up to me and said how much they enjoyed the swap and offered to host one in the future. DIY Del Ray will for sure have a fall food swap and more next year. But the idea is not exclusively ours, and we hope more food swaps will spring up all over town.
For more inspiration and guidance, see these food swap articles and blog posts:
Send us an email if you are interested in attending a future DIY Del Ray food swap.