Food Swap- What Is It and How Does It Work?

You may have heard about a food swap before, but wondered how does it work? I wasn’t sure what to expect myself, but when I found out there was going to be one near me, I had to try it. So, here’s a basic run down of what we did, and how a food swap works.

food swap

Here’s the basic jist of it. You bring in some items, home canned goods, baked goods, fresh produce, whatever! Then, you get to set it up on a table, or a table space. We had enough swappers that we all had to share tables with two other people. It wasn’t a problem at all, really.

I brought some fresh peaches, tomatoes, corn, and some canned tomatoes, canned chicken, and canned jalapenos. I wasn’t sure what to bring, but I figured this was a good start. Each swapper brought their own goodies, some canned foods, some baked goods, and some fresh eggs or produce. There was even a couple people who brought home brewed beers, wines, and vinegars.

Each item you bring gets a “bid sheet”, where you write down your name and what the item is. Baked goods usually have an ingredients list, or if the item is organic, non GMO, that’s listed too. Then, you spend approximately 20 minutes “bidding” on items. This is where you walk around, shopping, sampling, trying different items that other people brought. If you would like to swap with that person, you write your name on the bidding sheet, and what you brought. You do this as many times as possible for all the different items.

nick at swap

Of course, there may be people who, for whatever reason, do not wish to swap with you. That is perfectly okay, and should never be taken personally. They may have an allergy to what you brought (gluten, eggs, whatever) or they may have only brought a certain number of items and just can’t swap with everyone.

No big deal! The bidding sheets act as a “guide” because it’s the last 20 minutes that are the most fun. The actual swapping!

You go around with some of your items, and actually talk to the people face to face again, and offer your stuff for their stuff. The main thing is that it has to be a hand to hand deal. No just grabbing what you want, the person actually has to agree to the swap. And, most everyone is totally agreeable, and just out to try new things, make connections, and have fun.

My hubby, kids and I had a great time talking to people and swapping our stuff for different items. For example, I got 3 pieces of carrot cake (hubby’s favorite) for a quart of canned chicken. Two quarts of canned tomatoes got me 3 bags of chocolate chip cookies for the kids.

Another quart of canned chicken yielded a bottle of homemade wine. And, the peaches went far! I traded two dozen peaches total for a jar of bruschetta mix, a candy onion, granola bars, and friendship tea mix! Hubby even traded a quart of canned chicken for a bottle of home brewed beer that he got to sample and loved!

swapped for food

My favorite swap, though, had to be where I traded my last two quarts of home canned chicken for a 1/3 bushel of tree ripened pears! Totally cool, right?


What I loved most is that it is all FREE, there is no money allowed to exchange hands. Everything is done on a swap, or barter basis! Which makes it all the more fun, getting to know people! Interested in locating one for yourself? Check it out here, or just start your own! Grab a few friends, have them bring another friend, and just swap! Let the fun begin!

Have you ever been to a food swap?

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4 thoughts on “Food Swap- What Is It and How Does It Work?”

  1. Love this idea! Sounds like a very fun way to share your talents and bounty with others. thanks for explaining it here

  2. What an awesome idea! This seems like such a great way to save money on real food. At this time of year, I think any food swaps in our area would just be comprised of a mountain of zucchini!

  3. I really think this sounds like fun as well as quite helpful to the bottom line. I wonder how this would go over here. I will need to give this some thought.

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