Whether you’re looking for a new way to find fresh, locally sourced or simply different foods in Truckee, or even just a way to meet new people who share your interests, the Truckee Tahoe Food Swap is worth learning about.
We here at Coffeebar think the event is so cool and innovative that we sat down for a chat with coordinator Jessie Phillips to learn more about the event itself, how it’s benefiting our community, and how you can get involved. And of course, we want to share that information with all of you.
The Truckee Tahoe Food Swap is an event that began last summer after coordinators Jessie and Lauren put their heads together to discuss their idea of bringing fresh, local foods to Truckee in a community-based, swap-style setting.
For Jessie, who moved to Truckee from the Santa Cruz area last year, finding additional fresh food sources was essentially a necessity.
“I moved from an area where there were four farmers’ markets every week,” she says. “When I realized the one here was very small and closed down seasonally, I kind of panicked. I like getting my food from fresh sources.”
Now, thanks to Lauren and Jessie’s research, enthusiasm and dedication, the Truckee Tahoe Food Swap takes place on the last Sunday of each month. The swap is held at private locations, which are released to registered attendees one week in advance of each event. The events are capped at 25 participants, and sign-ups are available online through the swap’s new website.
So, what exactly is the food swap?
“At the base,” Phillips said, “it’s just about good food, wholesome food, and sharing food with the community… It’s meant to be fun and to taste good.”
But, she added, “For me personally, it goes beyond that into the idea of (using) food as your currency in a barter/trade system. I think anything in the current economy that allows people to get goods without a cash exchange is awesome. I think people are looking for stuff like that… to walk away with a bag of groceries, and know you didn’t spend any money.”
There is no limit to the types of foods swap participants can bring with them to share, though the idea is that the foods are homemade, fresh and as locally sourced as possible. The fare is diverse, Phillips said, ranging from fresh produce of all types to backyard eggs, homemade cookies, muffins, crackers, cakes, pastas and breads to specialties like braided garlic and homemade jam.
“It’s whatever people think of,” she said.
Phillips said she herself makes a homemade sourdough pizza dough that swap attendees have come to expect.
“Everyone counts on it now,” she said, “so it’s kind of like my guaranteed currency.”
The swap event itself is quite simple, Phillips said. How it works is all participants set up a table with samples of their foods, and a card listing their name, what they brought, and additional information such as ingredients. Once everyone is set up, participants walk around and sample the other foods available. In that process, participants propose trades by writing their offers on the back of the card at each table, i.e. “my cookies for your pasta.” The final piece, Phillips said, is the actual swap.
“You get your card, check out what people have offered, and pick and choose what you want to get in exchange for your goods,” she said.
Generally, everyone leaves the event with an array of new, fresh, homemade foods to try, some new friends, and a smile. So far, the event has been extremely well-received, Phillips said.
“Everyone loves it,” she said. “You know, it’s really fun. It’s just simple, good fun. That’s really been the vibe at the end for everyone.”
But there are several reasons that the swap is both important and unique, beyond the fun. For starters, it’s a source for foods you can’t otherwise find.
“You’re getting things you can’t buy at the supermarket,” Phillips said.”…This is good, local, made-from-scratch fresh food.”
The swap is also a source for knowledge about homemade foods and food sourcing, she said, adding: “One woman (who attends the swaps) has been making jams for 20 years. It’s a passion and a hobby for her, so she is a really unique resource to talk to about jamming and canning.”
But the swap is also meant to be a community-building event. It’s about bringing people together to “hang out and share,” Phillips said, and to talk about food and get to know one another.
Phillips made it clear that the swap is an event made for anyone and everyone who cares about good food; not just those with extraordinary culinary talent.
“It’s not meant to only be a draw for people who are amazing chefs or professional bakers,” she said, “but just those who have the hope of meeting other people who like to eat good food.”
Phillips said she hopes the swap will continue to grow down the road, and “really establish a connection” in town for people who like food, and care about where it’s coming from.”
The next swap will take place on Sunday, Jan. 29th. To sign up, and to learn more, visit www.truckeetahoefoodswap.com.