Peer Pressure. Simply stated it is being encouraged by people in a group to try something new or maybe change your view.

People succumb to peer pressure. It is just a fact. When you are in grade school, your friends are you biggest influencers. You may join in with the girls who make a humming noise and say, “I don’t really care.” (I am still apologizing to my mom for that one!) Or maybe you only wear shirts with the polo guy instead of the alligator. Or maybe your friends guided you into wearing a bra when you really didn’t need one. (This wasn’t me, of course, this was some other flat chested girl who didn’t need a bra until she was in her 20’s!)

It doesn’t end in childhood because as we get older, other people come into our lives and ask us to try things that aren’t in our wheelhouse. The pull toward peer pressure in adulthood is a bit more fun because you can’t get grounded!

Actually, the things I’m pulled toward aren’t frivolous and are a bit more educational. Things like environmental actions, exercise and even our choices in food seem to be the big pulls in my life right now.  (The “exercise” peer group is not getting very far with me!)

I surrendered to some peer pressure this weekend. This group of girls kept telling me to try something because I’d really like and everyone is doing it. (Everybody is doing it is a tool to get your way unless you are a husband in the bedroom. That gets you a night on the couch!)

The thing I tried is a Food Swap!!!!!!!! What is a Food Swap? It is a regular gathering of a group of people who “swap” homemade, homegrown and foraged food. It is a “trade only” event and no money ever crosses hands.

Confused yet? I was until I participated. Let me walk you through the process. You find a local food swap. The one I did was the NWI Food Swap. (This group was awesome at answering all my questions.)

I was told I could keep it easy on myself and just bring one item BUT if it wasn’t something EVERYONE liked I may not make any trades. (This is a very sad thought but it is okay not to trade if you don’t like the item. It is not personal….unless a person tastes your item and tells you to keep your day job….then it just got personal!)

So I opted to bring 4 containers of 4 items. I brought something baked (pizzelles), something I had already canned (pickled veggies from my produce drawer), something I just pickled (a red onion fridge pickle) and something seasonal (strawberries macerated in balsamic syrup.)

When I got to the swap, we all set up our tables. (Huge shout out to Kathy and Toni for helping me set up. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without your help.) The tables can be as simple as you laying out your goods or your can bring out your inner Martha Stewart and decorate. It is entirely up to you.

My table was kind of in between. I put on a tablecloth and made a chalkboard with my name on it. (Um, future note put your items on your chalkboard…not your name!)


In front of the items, you put a swap sheet where people can make their offers. It is also nice to put some samples out so folks can taste your goods.

After everyone is set up (and ONLY after EVERYONE is set up), it is time to walk around snack, make offers and visit. You can’t swap yet. It is definitely set up so everyone has a fair chance of getting the items they want.  Look at some of the cool tables.




I think we walked around for about 20 minutes or so. Besides tasting some awesome goodies, I must say I liked that it was NOT cliquey. I was one of a few newbies and EVERYONE made me feel welcome. If anything, I probably was a little shy. (Okay, stop laughing. I’m totally shy and meek.)

Right before it was time to swap, I got really nervous. What happens if no one wanted my goods? Do I need to stand over my stuff and sing the praises of my food? Don’t cry if no one swaps. It is okay. It is just food.

I, nervously, peeked over at my sheets and saw some offers. Phew. (They like me. They really like me.)

We were told when it was officially okay to start swapping. It was really simple after that, I just looked at my list and went up to the different tables with the items they wanted and swapped. I brought 16 items and was able to trade all of them but 3 (1 pickled onions and 2 packages of pizzelles.)

I came home with cilantro, chive blossom vinegar, rhubarb syrup, cucumber buns, apricot jalapeno jam, spicy pickled green beans, 2 jars of dill pickles, 2 gumbo file, goat cheese, ramp butter, black locust blossoms and 1 pepper plant.   BOOM!IMG_9803

The bounty is the fun part. It is neat to see what people like. I did find it interesting that my cookies didn’t swap out. (When I got home, my husband wanted to “play” swap for the cookies but I wasn’t falling for it!)

It is also nice that we had a good venue (LOAF, a specialty food store) graciously allowed us to swap in their store for FREE. (Most of us donated an item or two to our hostess as a thank you.)

Would I do it again? YES!!! I would do some things differently. I would get things like my swap sheets, decorations and cute labels done sooner. Since people are going to picking up your stuff and looking at it, packaging is VERY important. (My onions leaked juice…..Swap no-no.)

After doing the swap, I also think I would continue to bring a variety of items. My friend, Kathy, brought A LOT and her table was hopping with exciting trades. (She said it was her best swap ever!)


Food Swaps are open to ANYONE who signs up but you have to sign up! (And do your best to SHOW up.)

Thank you to NWI Food Swap for continuing to invite me and allow me this fun day. After participating, I can see why everyone is so enthusiastic about the day. This is probably the best peer pressure I’ve ever given in to!