06 July 2011

albany (& saratoga) food swaps!

What?? I thought people might want to know what the muffins looked like that were hidden inside the paper bags. So I took a picture, printed one out and taped it on.

Food Swaps are taking over the nation. What were at one time isolated, underground happenings are now spreading to a slightly less underground (though still subversive) and highly-connected audience. At the Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking party, I participated in a lite version of a food swap. Then last month, I went to an all-out swap hosted by From Scratch Club (FSC). I brought some muffins and walked away with strawberry rhubarb bbq sauce, a vegan cookie sampler, garden-fresh radishes, garlic scape pesto, banana scones and a few new super cool friends. Pretty good bounty, no?

This swap was held up at the wonderful local yarn shop The Common Thread in Saratoga Springs. Ah, pretty pretty yarn. There were drinks and potluck snacks and swaps and giggling and a general vibe of excitement and friendliness. And the swap itself? Easy peasy. I was worried about feeling rejected every time someone opted against swapping with me, but that was not the case. At all. Since I am so enamored with this swapping idea, I asked FSC Chris if I could show up early & learn the insiders' secrets. And since Saratoga is so very lovely but a bit of a drive from my homebase in Albany, we decided that I'd help host an Albany FSC Swappers event! Squee! So, you awesome locals, here it is:

FSC Swappers: Albany!
Date: Sunday, July 17
Time: 4-6pm
Location: All Good Bakers (160A Quail Street, Albany)
Space is limited and interest is high so reserve your spot RIGHT NOW! Only 14 spots left.=-

And here's the info for the monthly Saratoga event:
FSC Swappers: Saratoga!
Date: Wednesday, July 20
Time: 7:30-9:30pm
Location: Common Thread Saratoga (55 Beekman St, Saratoga Springs)
Reserve your spot today!

Never been to a food swap before? Let me walk you through it.

First, go register right this second. (Info & registration are here.)

Then, think about something awesome to bring. Swappers trade everything you can think of... muffins, bread, homemade jam, ready-to-go meals, sourdough starts, kombucha SCOBYs, homemade sauces and dressings, garden-fresh veggies, desserts, etc. Anything that you make or grow yourself is fair game.

Show up & sign in. If you've brought an additional item for the potluck (optional), you can put that on the potluck table. Make some new friends. Say hi to me.

Next you claim a spot for your swap stuff and start setting up! That can mean just throwing your muffins on the table, or maybe you have a more elaborate display for your goodies. Keep in mind that space will likely be tight at your swap. The first 30 minutes are devoted entirely to settling in, setting up and mingling so don't worry, you'll have plenty of time.

After the set-up period, everyone will have some time to walk around and casually check out what is available for swap. You can keep a little list for yourself of things you like, if that strikes you.

After everyone has a chance to check out the treats, you go around the room and when you see something you'd like to trade for, you just write your name down at their table and tell 'em what you can offer. For instance, if I see some cookies I'd like, I'd go to the swap sheet posted near their goods and write my name and say that I can swap a loaf of ciabatta. Easy.

Don't worry if someone turns down a swap with you- it's nothing personal, they just didn't need your chicken stock that night :)

Now the swapping actually begins! You can take a look at your swap sheet and get a sense of who is interested in swapping with you. You aren't obligated to swap with anyone you don't want to; the swap sheets just offer a good starting point. You can also go up to anyone at all and ask if they are interested in swapping. It's a totally practical, business-y, non-personal exchange though... if someone doesn't want to swap for your cupcakes, maybe it's because they have a food allergy or special diet or maybe they just made a huge batch of cupcakes at home! No worries, move onto someone else. Also, all swaps are on a one-to-one basis so package your goods accordingly. You might swap 4-6 muffins for one jar of homemade jam. Or you could trade a big bag of freshly picked garden salad greens for a quart of soup. So if you would feel screwed by bringing a gigantic veggie casserole that serves eight and getting just a small batch of cookies in return, think about resizing that casserole into two or three swap packages. Ya dig? You can bring as many things as you'd like to swap: just one item or maybe a whole slew of them. If you bring four things, you can swap for four things. Bring 12? You can try to swap for 12. One last tip: it's a great idea to list all of the ingredients on your swap item so that those with food allergies or sensitivities stay safe and happy, plus everyone likes to know what's in their food anyway :)

Swap Resources

Going back through the archives, my post about the Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking swap party has a few more resources too.

I can't wait to see you all at the Albany swap! Or at the Saratoga swap! Swap-curious? If you aren't so sure about this swap thing, or you'd like to see how it all works first, register and just come to hang out! I guarantee once you see it in motion you'll be brainstorming ideas for the next one. To stay up-to-date on the latest local swap news, like the FSC Swappers page on Facebook. Have questions? Get at us at the FSC Swappers page or right here in the comments. Think your question is silly? I assure you it isn't, but you can still email me privately if you'd like at christine[at]unspeakablevisions[dot]com. I researched like mad before my first swap because I didn't want to show up looking like a dweeb, but I didn't even need to stress because swapping is all done in fun with awesome people.


  1. I will definitely be at the Albany swap. See you there.

  2. Squee? What is this squee??

  3. Oh you can picture it... girly squealing... "oh my god! SQUEE!"

  4. I LOVE the way you packaged the muffins!!
    And I wish I lived close enough to join in your food swap.

  5. lol Poor Chris and her chicken stock lol That pic really makes it look like it sucked, but I'm sure it would have been delicious!


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