Book Review: Food Swap by Emily Paster



Title: Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing and Giving — Including the World’s Best Salted Caramel Sauce
Author: Emily Paster
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Release Date: May 17, 2016
The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: B-

Thank you to Storey Publishing for this review copy!


Whether your goal is to start your own community food swap, or just make delicious treats to share with family and friends, this is the book you need! Part cookbook, part how-to guide, Food Swap features more than 80 recipes for artisanal items that will be coveted at food swaps and adored as gifts, including preserves, baked goods, granolas, cheeses, pestos, roasted nuts, flavored salts, and specialty spices — everything from salted caramel sauce and Meyer lemon curd to green tomato salsa, lavender shortbread, cultured butter, apricot jalapeno jelly, and rum vanilla extract. You’ll also find creative ways to irresistibly package your items, and the book even includes perforated gift tags ready for personalization. Finally, author Emily Paster — co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, one of the biggest in the world — offers guidance on setting up a food swap in your own community, as well as inspiring stories from people who are part of this growing movement.


Food Swap was not quite the book for me.  Because of the title, I was expecting a straight-up cookbook.  The description more accurately describes what it actual is: a hybrid cookbook, history/current events lesson, and food swap setup guide.

One reason it’s not for me is that I’m a bit weirded out by the thought of swapping food with folks that I don’t know, with no oversight. I won’t eat home-canned goods if I’m not familiar with the canner’s kitchen, so I’d have a hard time swapping with strangers.  That may be my own personal issue, but it’s alluded to in the book, where Paster talks about what to do if (or when!) someone gets sick.

That said, the history of different food swap sites was interesting and informative. I like seeing how many women especially started these homegrown sites.  And Paster is right- the Salted Caramel Sauce is pretty darn epic.

Food Swap is available from Storey Publishing.

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