Lessons Learned at my First Indy Food Swap (It was a blast!)

Last Saturday I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Indy’s first Indy Food Swap. I want to start this post by complimenting and thanking Suzanne Krowiak, whose vision and hard work made the event a huge success. Thanks, too, to Sacha Brady (@Zigged), who volunteered to make everything run smoothly. You can learn more about the Indy Food Swappers on their Facebook page: Indy Food Swappers and on Twitter at: Indy Food Swap.

It was so much fun to chat with everyone who participated and to view the amazing diversity of handmade foods shared. I highly recommend attending the next event in October! I failed to take pictures of the items I took with me to trade, but the pic in this post shows the delicious items I traded for. Every one of the unique, handmade items is truly delicious!!

As with most things in life, I made mistakes at this first swap and learned valuable lessons as a result. Here are my tips based on the lessons I learned the hard way:

1) Take small servings so you have more to trade. I wasn’t sure what the typical serving size would be, so I took large portions. For instance, I took homegrown, organic herbs and packed large amounts into quart-size bags. In retrospect, I should have packed the herbs into sandwich size bags. Doing so would have given me four items to trade instead of just one. Most people brought sample sizes to share. Quantities traded did vary, though … everything from 4-ounce jars to 16-ounce jars of liquid items, and everything from plates of four cookies to a plate filled with six cake balls. Obviously, anything goes, but packaging items in smaller quantities will allow you to trade for more items.

2) Don’t be afraid to bargain: Because there is such a diversity of sizes and quantities being traded, be ready to get creative and flexible about what you’re trading. If someone wants to make a trade you don’t think is fair, don’t be afraid to offer to trade a different quantity or to ask for two of the item being offered. Most people are more than willing to bargain with you.

3) Niche items may not be popular: I took a jar of kefir grains and coconut water kefir and found that most of the people at this swap didn’t know what they were. That gave me a great chance to educate people, but meant that very few swappers showed an interest in trading for them. Obviously each swap will have different attendees with different interests, so it’s hard to say what will or will not be popular at each event. I’m such a firm believer in the health benefits of kefir that I’ll probably continue to take a jar, but am prepared to take them home if no one wants to trade for them.

4) Is it better to bring single servings of many items or many servings of a single item? I’m still not sure what the best answer is to this question. Please share your thoughts. Is it better to bring one serving of several different items, or multiple servings of a single item? I took single portions of four different things, but wound up wishing I had multiple (smaller) servings of some of them. Most people had a single item with multiple portions to trade. A few folks had two different food items with multiple portions. The bottom line is that you can potentially take home one new item for each item you bring to trade, so having multiple portions allows you to try far more items.

I can’t wait for the next Indy Food Swap! Did you go to the most recent one? What lessons did you learn? If you’ve never been to a food swap, what questions do you have?

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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4 Responses to Lessons Learned at my First Indy Food Swap (It was a blast!)

  1. Pamela Reilly, Naturopath, CNHP, CNC, CPH says:

    I'm so glad you went and had such a great experience! I was unable to go because my dad is in the hospital, but I plan on going to December's. Thanks much!

  2. Debbie Waldo says:

    My husband and I just got home from the October 15, 2011 Indy Food Swap. It was Great!!! Mark had made Honey Wine and Spicy Garlic Pickles, which were in quart bottles. Next time, he will use pint jars for more swapping selections. We went home with a heavy box of goodies. Everything tasted good. We had an enjoyable time. Dr. Mark and Debbie Waldo

  3. Pamela Reilly, Naturopath, CNHP, CNC, CPH says:

    You should go! My home grown herbs and organic apples were very popular. It was a lot of fun! If there's one in your city, I highly recommend going! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Deb says:

    I've been thinking about attending this before now, but wasn't sure whether my homegrown foods would "fit in" with what is swapped. I think I might want to go next month! Thanks for sharing!

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