Swapping How-To

Our food swaps are casual and friendly gatherings of food makers and cooks, who are all willing to bring their homemade goods and barter with others for them.  

What to bring

Appropriate items for swapping include jams and preserves, syrups, oils, infused liquors and vinegars, home brewed alcohol and spirits, baked goods, candies, teas, home canned foods, pickles, chutneys, salsas, smoked meats, honey and more... In the words of our fellow swappers in Brooklyn, “if you made it and it's edible, you can trade it!”

Plan to bring 6-10 items (some people bring more, some less – just remember you leave with as many items as you come with), which can range from packages of homemade granola to honey from your hives. You can also bring a mix of items if you want. We definitely suggest bringing extra for samples. People are going to be more keen to swap when they can taste your amazing creations.

Don't forget to bring something extra (bag, box etc.) to carry your new food items home! 

How to package it

While packaging and presentation is wholly up to the individual, recycled containers are encouraged. We suggest between 4–16 oz. as portion sizes, depending on the cost of the materials involved.

Also, we'd like to request that all swappers label all their items with the following info – whether you do this on a simple laser printer label or a cute handmade tag is up to you.
  • Name of Item – Clearly label what it is! 
  • How to store item – Is it for the fridge or the pantry? Even though this is included on the swap sheet, it can be easy to miss or forget this during the excitement of the swap, so please mark on the item itself
  • Your Name - So recipients know who made it 
  • Your Email - So recipients can contact you directly if they have questions on how to store or use it, want the recipe, or just want to tell you how much they've enjoyed it
  • Date - (optional) The date you made it or use by date is useful

What happens at the swap

The swap event itself lasts about 2 hours. During the first hour or so we’ll sign-in, set up, have some potluck eats, and get to know each other. 

Swap registration
Upon check-in each swapper will be given swap sheets where they write down the details of the items they brought to swap (what it is, ingredients, how to store, use by date etc.) 

In the second hour, swappers will walk around and purvey all the goods. They will place bids on the sheets for the items they’re interested in trading for. Once bids have been placed, the swapping begins! 

Note that just because you write down a bid on someone’s sheet does not mean you will necessarily get the item. There may be multiple bids for each available item and every swapper can choose what they want to trade for. Swappers may also approach people who didn’t place bids on their sheets if they have items they want to try to trade for anyway. Swaps take place through discussion and agreed upon exchanges.

SF Swappers events always also include a potluck, so plan on making a favorite dish to bring and share.

Want some visuals? Watch the below video of a PDX Swappers event taking place in Portland.

Or check out a recent swap of ours below.

Still want more? You can read all about our first swap in this delicious Eat the Love post, as well as one last fall on The Bold Italic, or more recent ones covered on fellow swappers' blogs: Nourish, Preserve, and Flourish and Picnic Bakery. You can also browse through the blog to look through recaps and photos from all our previous food swaps.

Want to find out if there's a food swap in your town? Check out the fabulous Food Swap Network! If there isn't and you're interested in starting one, see their excellent info on how to host, including FAQ, resources and more. 

Also have a look at the links on the right-hand side of this blog if you are interested in reading more from other swap groups around the country, plus recent stories in the news!