Produce Swap-portunities

Pile of zucchini with garlic and herbs
Image by rudenkoalla on Freepik.

Bulk acquisition of produce is one of the ways we can save money while eating fresh food. We’ve discussed nutrition-oriented ways of preserving produce and tricks for experimenting with a vegetable to keep it from getting boring. Sometimes, of course, you just need to get it out of your house. Not many people appreciate it when we play “ding-dong, ditch” with a paper bag of zucchini. And, more to the point, if you find someone who would actually appreciate that zucchini, you might be able to exchange it for a food you don’t have.

Think seasonally.

Do you know what’s in-season in your area? If not, check out the Seasonal Food Guide. Use it to help you get a sense of what might be useful to trade around the time your garden starts producing more zucchini than you can stand eat. If you don’t have a lot of friends who garden or use CSAs or who buy in bulk when they find a sale, look for a local Facebook group for gardeners or for folks who would like to swap food.

Think outside the produce box.

Zucchini for tomatoes sounds like an obvious choice…unless everyone who gardens has tomatoes and zucchini. Vegetables are not, however, the only food item that folks may have in an abundance that complements a shortage you have. Identify the backyard chicken folks in your circle. Look for folks who have been able to take advantage of some of the bulk selling that’s been connecting the restaurant supply chain to the home supply chain. Someone out there might have three dozen eggs or five pounds of chickpeas and no space for a garden.

Think safe.

Swapping food comes with more risk than buying the food at the grocery store. Even among trusted friends and family, we have to be cautious because we currently live in extraordinary times. When exchanging food, use contactless exchange methods if possible and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you choose to swap food with someone unfamiliar, meet in public and trust your instincts. And always follow good food safety when preparing fresh fruits and vegetables.