The Food Swap Network defines a food swap as a recurring event where members of a community share homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods with each other. Swaps allow direct trades to take place between attendees, e.g., a loaf of bread for a jar of pickles or a half-dozen backyard eggs. Swap events also include a potluck as an immediate food-sharing (and sometimes item-sampling) component. These events are a delicious way to diversify the homemade foods in your own pantry while getting to know members of your local food community.
It’s becoming a movement - what the Food Swap Network calls community-based food sharing groups. The Network’s website introduces visitors to people it calls “the core founders of the modern food swapping movement”. They are described as five ladies that have “spread the swap love across the US, Canada, and abroad by answering new hosts’ questions, describing food swapping to the media, and building communities around sharing food.”
That may be so but there’s another lady who’s getting a lot of attention.
Her name is Isabelle Baril-Ortley, a Quebecker living in California.
Here’s how she is described in an article by David Boylan published this week in The Coast News:
Baril-Ortley has a fascinating background, having been raised in a small town in Quebec where farming, foraging, hunting and trapping, fishing, making cheese, canning and butchering were a way of life. She mentioned that many of the photos of her youth include some type of wild game that she or her family had successfully hunted.
This was not hunting for sport; it was to fill the freezer for the long Canadian winters.
Baril-Ortley fondly remembers the canning parties with family and neighbors where everyone contributed and left with their fair share of whatever the group brought to the occasion. Baril-Ortley was farm/woods to table before those terms were catchy marketing phrases for restaurants. She really has walked the talk so to speak and those experiences formed the roots of the modern food swap.
I searched the Food Swap Network for a Food Swap in Québec and came out empty. That’s too bad. Perhaps Ms. Baril-Ortley still has family there and could encourage them to return to their roots as food swappers.