Bamboo Magazine - Conscious Family Living

Page 79

The excitement was high as we swappers filled our baskets, boxes and totes with each other’s lovingly-made creations. And as it turns out, we did more than just diversify our cupboards that day. By coming together as a community, we satisfied a communal craving to share and celebrate handcrafted food. “People are hungry for this,” says Kate Payne, author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. “Food swaps forge and reinforce community.” Payne started the food swapping movement in Brooklyn less than two years ago. “I’d made a large batch of marmalade, so I put it out to friends on Twitter to see if anyone wanted to trade me for some. Friends responded with offers of sauerkraut, eggs and honey. And that’s how it started,” recalls Payne. “Soon, I had 23 people in my 600-square-foot apartment for our first meet-up of the BK Swappers (http://www. facebook.com/BKSwappers). We had only one rule – items had to be homemade.” Payne’s idea, shared in her book and on her blog (http://hipgirlshome.com/), caught on and the food swapping movement has rapidly spread (there’s even a group in London). Swaps are happening across the country from California to Minneapolis to Massachusetts. It’s no wonder these simple, fun events are popping up from coast to coast; they seem to serve as a natural progression of the

popular local food and urban homesteading movements. From farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture, to backyard gardens and urban chicken keeping, consumers are taking back control of their food production and procurement. With locally-harvested goods in hand, a burgeoning number of homesteaders are now preparing, processing and preserving foodstuff in their own home kitchens. Food swaps are a logical next step, where cooks, bakers and gardeners step away from their homesteads and gather, as a community, to exchange their homemade and homegrown food, sans cash (an attractive benefit in today’s unreliable economy). Upon returning to Austin, Texas after two years in Brooklyn, Payne and a friend started an Austin swap known as the ATX Swappers. “We always have more interest than spaces availabile,” says Payne, who

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