Creating Community With Food Exchanges

On any given Sunday evening at the Erie home of Trevor and Julia Mickelson, people gather for a community food exchange. Julia says it started last July when Trevor started going to a food exchange in Boulder which inspired them to start their own group focused on vegan and paleo meals.



Participants commit to preparing one meal a week that they will share with others at the exchange. The meals are presented and shared in mason jars, each one containing approximately two portions. Each participant brings four jars of the same meal and then leaves with four different jars, with four different meals. Trevor says the exchange offers people an opportunity to save time and money – he estimates they have reduced their weekly food bill by 37% – but still enjoy a variety of good meals throughout the week.

Pete Lewis, one of the participants, says everyone shares the ingredients in their meal and the thought process that went into the preparation ahead of the exchange.  “We all put our jars on the island there in the kitchen and talk about what we cooked and get to look at all the beautiful color and health that’s available to us.”

Julia says that it’s also about rediscovering community in food.

“We’ve lost so much of the quality and the love and the community around food and it’s totally changed for me my relationship to food…there’s so much love that goes into every single jar.”

Trevor says food exchange is a movement.  He has created a website to guide others who want to establish their own food exchanges “to help create more of a sustainable, local route for individuals to really synchronize with other individuals who want to change the world through food and community and provide love in their cooking.”