Flavor of NEPA

The flavor of NEPA

New tastes await you at Food Swap


If you’ve ever wondered what kind of veggies are growing in your neighbors’ garden, if their banana bread tastes as good as it smells or if their jams and jellies really do rival your grandma’s, wonder no more. There’s a great way for foodies, and those who love them, to share their finest and freshest homegrown treasures – the food swap on Oct. 6 at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.
A food swap is a recurring event where people share homemade or homegrown foods with each other. Swaps allow direct trades to take place between attendees. You might trade a loaf of bread for a jar of pickles or six backyard eggs. If the idea of a food swap is new to you, think of it as a modern adaptation of an old-fashioned favorite – a holiday cookie swap – only much more. Food swaps are planned all year long, and they include a wide variety homegrown and homemade items.
Danielle Fleming, who spearheaded the food swap movement locally, said she was inspired to bring food swaps home to northeastern Pennsylvania after doing consulting work in Princeton, N.J. last year. “Each day after work I would go to a farm stand, a farm market or a Pick Your Own (PYO) orchard and gather the daily harvest,” she said. “I would then go home and put up jars and jars of jams, jellies, pickles, salsas and sauces. You name it, I preserved it in some way, by either canning, freezing or making it into a dish and then freezing it. At the end of the season, my pantry was overflowing and I heard about a food swapping movement that was taking the nation by storm. All of the bloggers were talking about it, so I decided to look into it. As it turned out, food swaps were popping up in many of the metro cities over the past two years. I loved the fact that people came together for the sole reason of sharing and swapping homemade or homegrown goodness. It was communal, sustainable and just spoke to me.”
When Fleming returned home, she brought the food swap with her, launching the first event in July at the Scranton Cultural Center. “It’s one of those things that once you experience your first one, it will all make sense and you’ll be hooked,” she said. “The emotion that I saw at the last swap when we swapped our items was pure joy. We were like kids trick-or-treating! It was a blast!”
Saturday’s swap is sure to include plenty of seasonal favorites. It’s likely that swappers will see everything from apples, pumpkins and winter squash to quick breads and cakes and jams. Fleming plans to swap a spicy tomato jam (especially tasty on a toasted baguette with roasted garlic and goat cheese), and she said there is talk among other participants of trading granola, bacon jam and jack-o-lanterns. Guests will enjoy locally-produced apple cider.
If you’re interested in joining the food swap, here are a few guidelines you should know:
n All swap items must be homemade or homegrown by the participant. Pickles, preserves, jellies and jams, baked goods, breads, cookies, cupcakes, honey, granola, pasta, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are all good choices.
n Swappers may bring as little or as much as they would like. They can bring a bunch of one thing or multiples of a few different things. Typically, swappers bring between 8 and 12 items to trade as well as samples for others to try.
n All participants adhere to an honor code of using the highest cleanliness standards in their own kitchens and gardens to prepare their swap items.
n There is no fee to attend the food swap, but pre-registration is required. To pre-register, visit www.nepaswappersfall2012.eventbrite.com.

— julie imel

The next food swap will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Nay Aug Park in the Gentile Pavilion (across from the Everhart Museum on the side of the hospital). For more information, visit www.facebook.com/NEPAswappers.

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