What is a Food Swap?

What is a food swap?

A food swap is a gathering of food lovers to exchange homemade creations. No cash is exchanged, and no goods are sold. In a silent auction format, homemade goodies change hands and everyone goes home inspired and happy.

Who can participate?

Everyone is welcome as long as you bring something you made or grew yourself. You must pre-register to attend so we have a sense of how large our swap will be. If you plan to bring a family member or friend, please register them, as well. And if you’re coming alone, don’t worry – half of the fun is connecting with friendly foodies!

Where is it held?

Our food swaps will take place every other month all around Chicagoland. If you'd like to propose a location, just let us know!

What do people bring?

All swap items must be homemade or homegrown. Think cookies, cakes, jam, chocolates, jellies, pickles, spreads, honey, muffins, candies, vinegar, granola, pasta, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, homemade sausages, backyard eggs … you name it! Bring as little or as much as you like. You can bring a bunch of one thing or multiples of a few different things. If possible, bring samples for others to try.

Be sure to package your goods in a way that protects the food and makes it easily swappable. And please label them if they need to be refrigerated so nothing gets mistakenly stored in the pantry. People will be examining and picking up your goods.

What Should I Expect?

Swap meets last 1.5 to 2 hours.

Each swapper arrives and sets up his or her goodies on tables in front of them, along with a sheet filled out for each item and a few lines under the item for bids.

For the first 60 minutes or so, everyone walks around, examining, talking, and sampling items from the other swappers.

Little by little, swappers will zero in on coveted items and will bid by writing on the sheets of paper the items they would like to swap. For example, if Emily has some jam you’d like, you may write on her sheet of paper what you’re willing to swap for it. Multiple people can put in swap offers for the same item. Emily will choose those she is willing to swap with.

Finally, everyone goes back to his or her original sheets of paper, looks at the offers, and finds people to swap with. This is when the fun begins. There’s no guarantee you will get what you “bid” for and you are not obliged to swap with anyone. All exchanges take place in a fun conversational format.

If the idea of a swap is a little terrifying - visions of being a swap wallflower with your grandma's apple sauce fill you with fear - banish those thoughts! The swaps welcome cooks of all degrees of experience and everyone goes home with goodies. Above everything, we respect the effort you've put in to preparing the food you bring and welcome all food lovers.

Notes and Expectations
  • The event is open to the public but everyone must pre-register.
  • All cooking is done in home kitchens and it is expected that participants are using the highest cleanliness standards in their own kitchens and gardens to prepare their swap goods.
  • By participating in this event, you are acknowledging that the food items being traded are not necessarily prepared in any “approved” kitchen or space inspected by any government agency.
  • No selling or exchange of money is allowed.
  • If you don’t want to swap, gifting is also encouraged.