Swap your way to a well-stocked pantry

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Photo by Jo Ann Santangelo

From clothing to skill-sets, our broke minds have always seen swapping as a way to get something we really need for… our less-than-marketable possessions. If homemade food’s involved, though, a swap can include some pretty sweet stuff all around. Brooklyn urban farmer Meg Paska and baking/canning enthusiast Kate Payne started trading their homemade edibles, and so was born BK Swappers and its bi-monthly gatherings of cooks, bakers and jam-canners, all stoked to snack-up and stock the pantries. And the next swap’s this Sunday, Aug. 1.

The premise of food-swapping is simple. Everyone brings a homemade (or homegrown) item to exchange, everyone leaves thrilled with their windfall. Maybe a swap’s success is due to preservers’ tendency to have 30 jars of jam left from that raspberry bounty last summer, or maybe it’s just the inherent good vibes of people getting together to barter granola.

Photo by Jo Ann Santangelo
Photo by Jo Ann Santangelo

The rules for this Sunday’s swap are simple too: Show up with either a homemade larder good (pickles, preserves, butter, chutney), a wrapped kitchen success (cookies, bread, dried foods, whatever) or a snack for 20-30 people. Of course, there’ll be snacking. Bring your famous elderberry-peach chutney and walk out with millet-oatmeal bread, or trade eggs from your backyard chicken for something pickled. RSVP ASAP to ensure you get a place at the table.

And if you’re busy Sunday, no worries—you can always put together your own swap. Kate shares some handy swapping tips with us through her blog, A Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking (making Kate the first person in 10 years brave enough to call herself hip). She recommends:

1) Organize the swap with a friend or two. Communicate with the group through email, Facebook or Twitter (with a good hashtag, like #BKSwappers). That way, everyone will be abreast of a need for a punch bowl or your latest concoction for the swap (#hipgirls is bringing blackberry-peach sorbet).

2) Set your rules ahead of time. BKSwappers insists everything brought is homemade. Also determine when the swap itself occurs—in their case, the beginning of the event’s last hour.

3) Label everything. Not only does this save time re-explaining your every ingredient, but it facilitates BK Swappers’ silent-auction style swap system. On every item’s card, attendees write what they would trade for it. At the designated time, everyone chooses their favorite.

4) Invite your foodie friends and plan your table based on their RSVP (they should tell you what they’re bringing).

5) Arrange for potluck-style snacking. Tension would run high, hungrily staring at a bunch of beautiful food. Make the swap a party instead. BK Swappers will be serving up sorbet fizzes and cordials.

The BK Swappers food swap is happening this Sunday, Aug. 1, from 2 to 5 p.m. Address given to RSVPers.

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  1. Twitter may not be the best way to communicate. I have no living friends on twitter, only self promoting engines, probably guided by interns.

    I like this idea very much, but it works less well if half your cooking buddies are vegan. All the good stuff has animal fat/honey/parts of fish. Maybe i just need to find meat-eating technology-liking friends…

  2. I really wish these kinds of events existed not only for goods, but for goods and *services*
    I, for example, know quite a few folks who would trade free or HEAVILY discounted services like massages, hair styling stuffs, graphic design, basic household maintenance (handiman stuff) and a bunch of other things for baked goods or canned stuffs or basically anything. I think this form of bartering (ie: trading what I have/do for what I need/want) could make a huge comeback in this economy…plus its cross-promotion of the best kind: grassroots! Unfortunately, there’s not much of an outlet to advertise for this kind of thing- does anyone know if this group would be interested in branching into the non-edible field? SO many people in this city want to almost give away their services during this economic climate and it fosters a sense of community to do so with others who are like-minded :)

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