Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, October 26

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Friday Foodporn: Veggie Pizza Summer Drinking Series Returns! »

Event Sun Jun 23 2013

The Chicago Food Swap

DSC02500.jpgI remember the good ol' elementary school days when I used to trade my apple slices (which my mother lovingly packed) for my friend's Snicker bar or peanut butter sandwich. It was barter at its finest; none of the dollar and dime business that characterizes modern-day exchanges. It's not that I don't enjoy farmers markets or local artisan shops, but there's a certain nostalgic charm when you exchange your homemade pie for your neighbor's freshly-picked tomatoes. But with the countless legal and regulatory hurdles one must jump through to sell food products, I had given up on the barter system.

That is...until I chanced upon the Chicago Food Swap, who meet every other month (in their own words) " exchange homemade creations. No cash is exchanged, and no goods are sold. In a silent auction format, homemade goodies change hands and everyone goes home inspired and happy."

Traders offer items like cookies and pickles in exchange for granola, fresh herbs, spices, and other fantastic goodies. There is no limit on what you can bring or how much to bring, and participants are required to bring their own display space (although extra tables are often provided). Furthermore, it's "expected that participants are using the highest cleanliness standards in their own kitchens and gardens to prepare their swap goods."


To prepare for my first Chicago Food Swap (held at Gallery 1028), I lugged along a collection of strawberries, homemade injera, some herbs and veggies. After walking around the space and sampling the delicious goodies, I bids for foods that caught my interest: habanero salsa, vegan banana bread, pickled broccoli stems, bacon jam, and cactus salad. Of course, after a second sampling trip around the gallery, I basically bid on everything. After about an hour of exploring and bidding, participants actually swap their items, and I was admittedly flustered by the whole affair. I scurried from table to table, trying to get my favorite products while making sure others could find me so they could trade as well. I missed the banana bread, but received some delicious brittle, sriracha salt, kombucha starter, and cashew butter. After the swap officially ended, some of the leftover items underwent last minute trading or were simply given away.
DSC02504.jpgThe Chicago Food Swap is not only a ridiculously fun event filled with amazingly-creative goodies, but it's also an opportunity to showcase your homemade products. Registration requires literally 10 seconds, and the diversity of products available is truly extraordinary (sprouted mung beans, cannellini bean hummus anyone?). And the people, including founder and blogger Emily, are incredibly passionate and generous. So if you've got a killer cookie recipe or a knack for making homemade soap, I hope to see you at the next swap.

GB store

Aurelie / June 24, 2013 3:02 PM

Nice pictures! Thank you for the beautiful chard. I will be serving it provencal style - sauteed with pine nuts and raisins. Looking forward to the next swap!

GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

GB store



Drive-Thru on Flickr

Join the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

About Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Robyn Nisi,
Drive-Thru staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15