Answering your questions about food swap etiquette

With only two days to go before our January food swap, some of you may be puzzled about the etiquette of food swapping. After all, it’s not too often that we get to barter for anything these days, especially homemade food items. If you are completely new to food swapping, first let us direct you to our page on “How It Works.” This will guide you through what will actually take place at the food swap on Sunday.

Regarding more detailed questions on food swap etiquette, we highly recommend the article, “Rules for Effective Food-Swapping,” by Helena Echlin. Here are some of the highlights from the article.

Food Safety

If you are new to or leery of the art of preserving, the first thing that may come to mind when swapping is the fear of food-borne illness from improperly preserved foods. Echlin recommends relaxing when it comes to this issue:

Particularly with fruit jams, jellies, and preserves, you don’t need to worry. ‘It’s highly unlikely you will get sick from canned jam because of the acidity level,’ says Kate Payne, author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. To be on the safe side, avoid canned meat, which can be dangerous if improperly prepared.

Choosing Your Swap Items

One important thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t be afraid to decline a swap request. Echlin notes:

You shouldn’t worry about other people feeling rejected, any more than you worry about the people who run the gourmet food shop feeling crushed when you walk out without buying anything…. Payne suggests a polite way to refuse: Simply say, ‘Let me see what I end up with, and if I have something extra I’ll talk to you later.’

Limit Haggling

For the most part, haggling should be limited, and it should always be approached politely. Sometimes swappers purposely package items in different sized containers so they can group items together and swap for various-sized portions. If there is an obvious difference in portion size, it is possible that a swapper with smaller items will welcome a two-for-one trade. Echlin suggests avoiding haggling altogether, but we think this is unnecessarily limiting. She does note, however, the importance of being tactful, which we can all agree on:

No one wants to hear: ‘Well, I stayed up until 2 a.m. hand-shaping these empanadas, so one of them is worth at least two of your chocolate chip cookies.’

For other great tips, please visit the entire article over at And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

See you at the swap! Sunday, January 29th, 10:00 AM at La Divina Gelateria in the Garden District!