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Madison’s first food swap

Slow Food Madison recently collaborated with local food preservers Laura Purdy and John Binkley to host Madison’s first food swap – an event where people trade and barter their homemade/handmade/homegrown products. These events have taken off in popularity in many other parts of the country, and we’re excited to see it starting in Madison! 


We talked to Laura about food swaps, her thoughts on the first one, which happened Monday, November 11 at Goodman Community Center. 

What is a food swap?
Food Swap is an event where members of the community come together to trade homemade, homegrown, and foraged food with one another. Attendees directly trade the items that they bring as a way to diversify the foods in their pantries and make connections with other members of the local food community.  Attendees are welcome to bring as many or as few items as they would like, although the more you bring the more opportunity you have to bring home something new.

What inspired you to start a food swap, where did you hear about it?
I am relatively new to the world of food preserving.  In fact, this summer was only my second year of putting up the harvest but when I try something new I tend to go all in. My partner is an organic vegetable farmer and owner of Equinox Community Farm, so I had a cornucopia of produce to work with.  Long story short, in the fall I ended up with about 2 bookshelves full of canned items and I tried about 50-60 recipes from 6 different canning books.  I ended up staring at my collection and wishing there was a way I could end up with less of this stuff (who needs 15 pints of curried cauliflower pickles?) and more of the food that I wasn’t skilled at making.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I follow quite a few canning related blogs and food swap information was popping up here and there.  I did a lot of reading and decided that it would be a perfect fit for my needs and I was sure there were others out there in the same predicament as myself.

Why are people interested in food swaps?  What benefit do they have?
I think that food swaps appeal to people in a variety of ways, which explains why our first event was so popular.  People who experiment with food tend to love talking about food and sharing their food.  A food swap is a perfect forum for doing both of those things.  For example, I had the opportunity to taste and take home some fermented ginger ale.  I have little experience with fermented food and this was a great introduction.  There were also flavor combinations and ingredients that I had never heard of before, so I not only came away with new items I came away with a whole bunch of new ideas and a wealth of food preservation experts to consult with in the future.

What are the difficulties in starting a food swap?  Are there any tricky legalities you need to be aware of?
I did a lot of reading online when I was setting up the food swap.  Food Swap Network is a great resource with information on hosting food swaps, downloadable templates, and links to other swap websites. I also looked up a few Wisconsin Statutes regarding certain food products. Food swaps must be private events, which is why people must sign up and sign in to the events.  Private events are exempt from the food and health safety codes that public events must adhere to.  (It’s like a potluck among acquaintances vs a public event that serves food.) We also had people sign a disclaimer that stated they used proper food handling methods and that they do not hold the hosts, the venue, or other  participants liable.  It may seem like overkill, but we want to make sure that we do our best to make everyone safe and allow for many more food swaps to occur in the future.

What is your vision/plan for food swaps in Madison?
I definitely believe that there is room to grow for the food swap here in Madison and space for more people to get involved. However I do want to be careful that we continue to foster the personal relationships and trust that makes food swaps so successful and so valuable.  I’m not sure what that sweet spot will end up being, but I’m ready to tweak both the event size and frequency in order to find something that works well for everyone involved.  And ultimately, if the response and enthusiasm is huge, I am definitely willing to help new food swaps get started.  There is such an abundance of food creativity in this area that I see the potential for a multitude of local food swaps centered around different communities.

How do you feel about the food swap that just happened?  Any fun stories?
I was truly blown away by what was brought to our first food swap.  Canned zucchini that tasted like pineapple.  Kefir.  Home-cured bacon.  Caramel sauce.  Fruit butters.  Dried herbs.  Homemade soap.  Elderberry syrup.  Jelly melon.  So many different types of pickles.  I could go on and on.  And the best part of it was how much everyone valued what other people had made.  People who didn’t can things were delighted to receive someone’s tomato sauce.  We ended up trading a whole bunch of sweet potatoes for a whole bunch of goat milk soap.  Everyone went home feeling richer than when they came, where else can you experience that?  The biggest complaint I heard was that attendees wished they had brought more things for trading.  If that isn’t a huge success, I don’t know what is.

What advice do you have for a wanna-be food swapper?
First, keep your eyes and ears open for future events.  I anticipate that they will continue to fill up quickly so you want to be tapped in to your local food organizations like Slow Food Madison. Play to your strengths, but also don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations.  If you make great pies, try a twist on a classic (maple pecan pie, instead of just pecan pie for example).  Some of the most popular items at the food swap were the unexpected ones.  Use items that are in season, and local if appropriate.  It will connect you even more to the food community and most likely save you money.  And of course, make sure that you adhere to the appropriate food handling techniques especially with things like canning.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions and direct people to resources if they want aren’t sure where to start.

Thanks, Laura, and thanks to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for information about future swaps.

UMF #15, 4 & 20 Bakery & Café

This month's trip was to 4 & 20 Bakery & Cafe,, located
at 305 N. 4th Street, for a special class in crust and pie making.
This wonderful small cafe is located across the street from East High School
next to Milio's.  It has served delicious coffee, breakfasts and lunches
for the past 2 years and has become somewhat of a neighborhood center with
its relaxed atmosphere and tasty food.  The cafe has been a site for several
students from the Work-Learn program at East.

We were warmly greeted by Evan and Mandy, two of the three owners of
the cafe, (Scott is the 3rd). Evan's previous experience includes being
sous chef for L'Etoile and Mandy was bakery manager for Monty's Blue Plate
Diner. They told us about their business and general philosophy.
Besides using seasonal and locally grown foods, they also do some foraging
for wild edibles, do some of their own curing of meats and make all of their
bakery items.

After providing the participants with cups of tea, Mandy began her
demonstration.  Afterwards she cut into a pie that she had made earlier and
shared it with us. Yum!!

Pie Crust Recipe for 1 Double Crust Pie:
  3 C. Flour
  1 t. salt
  1 t. sugar
  1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  1/2 C. vegetable shortening

Put dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and shortening and
pulse until consistency of coarse cornmeal

  3/4 C. ice water
  1 T. apple cider vinegar

Process until mixture comes together in ball.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 7 days.

Pie Filling:
  4 C. fresh or frozen peaches
  2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
  1/2 C. white sugar
  1/2 C. brown sugar
  1/2 C. cornstarch
  1 t. cinnamon

Mix together dry ingredients, add fruit and mix together.
Fill pie crust and add top crust.
Spritz with water and sprinkle top with white sugar
Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours until bottom crust is cooked.

  * Roll pie crust between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.
  * Use glass pie plate to monitor browning of bottom crust
  * Trim top crust with scissors
  * Roll up excess crust before crimping
  * Check after 45 minutes to 1 hour and cover top with aluminum foil
    when it is properly browned

We'd like to thank Evan and Mandy for their generosity in opening
4 & 20 Bakery Cafe to us for this special event and to Scott for helping
set this up. This was a great opportunity to learn about pie making
before the holiday season!

UMF #14, Madison Sourdough

On September 20th, a baker’s dozen of early birds showed up at Madison Sourdough for our latest Urban Market Forage. David Lohrentz, who is co-owner with baker Andrew Hutchinson, presented us with sweet treats as he discussed the history of MSD and his own personal history that led him to this business.

MSD’s philosophy is Craft. Nourish. Community. All that and more was evident at our visit. A wonderful selection of breads using top grade flours, including heritage wheat varieties being grown again in Wisconsin after a long absence; delightful pastries made by the aptly named Pierre; a bustling café filled with regulars enjoying a delicious breakfast.

Bakers rotate through the bakery from middle of the night to middle of the afternoon. Height and strong arms are important characteristics for successfully loading and unloading the enormous oven. Though the work is precise and demanding, there was a lot of good cheer on display, and it shows in the final product.


Madison Area Fresh Produce Donation Locations

Do you have a garden bounty you can’t keep up with? Unable to use your CSA box some weeks? Know a farmer with surplus harvest? Whether you have extra produce or want to purchase some specifically to donate, this map details locations in the Madison area that would love to receive a gift of fresh vegetables. Many secondary or emergency food sources have trouble providing clients with fresh produce, and your donation can help provide healthy, fresh foods for people in need.

Click on the map below to see an interactive display of locations in Madison that will happily accept fresh produce. The pin for each site details donation instructions, preferred and unaccepted items (if any), and contact information.

UMF #12: Underground Meats and Underground Butcher

On Saturday, June 22, UMF started its field trip at Underground Meats production
facility at 931 Main Street. Both Underground Meats and Underground Butcher are part
of a food collective which also includes a catering service and Forequarters Restaurant
on E. Johnson Street. We met Jerry, a mechanical engineer who learned of sausage-
making and now is a member of the collective. He gave us a butcher’s eye view of
salami and salumi (other cured meats). Jerry told us that the pork they use is from
heirloom hogs that are pastured-raised locally on small family farms. They also use local
lamb and goat as well.

Jerry explained the process of making salami from the pork– mixing it with fat, spice
blends, lactose and a nitrite/nitrate blend to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and
mold. The meat is extruded into casings and painted with an edible mold which further
prevents the growth of unwanted organisms. The mold gives the casings a white

Next the sausage is hung in a locker which is controlled for humidity and temperature.
The pH is monitored frequently to assure food safety. The meat is then transferred to
another locker where it is cured. This process can take 4-6 weeks for the salami and up
to 6-9 months for the prosciutto and other cuts.

Underground Meat offers classes on sausage-making, etc. and collaborates with other
aspiring butchers and meat producers. They provide meat to many of Madison’s
restaurants and to their affiliates, Underground Butcher and Forequarters Restaurant.
They are a regular presence at the DOT Farmers Market on Saturday AM’s and venture
down to Chicago to sell their products at a farmer’s markets there.

After sampling some delicious salami and chorizo, we walked to Underground Butcher
at 811 Williamson where we met Michael and Casey who told us about their part of the
collective. Here they offer cuts of locally raised grass-fed beef and other meats. Michael
explained that usually the meat from grass-fed animals looks different with the fat being
more yellow in color. Besides selling the dried and cured meat from Underground Meat,
they also make fresh sausage from rabbit, chicken, pork and beef. Both facilities
welcome special orders and are happy to share information on preparing their delicious

Underground Butcher also sells cheeses, wines, beer and other gourmet foods and
products. They offer a sandwich menu with a daily special.

We’d like to thank the people of Underground Meats and Underground Butcher for
sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for their craft and their delicious products. We
enjoyed the tours and the wonderful sausage that we brought home with us! Night Train
Sausage made with smoked beer, anyone?

UMF #11: The Kitchen Gallery with owner Katrina Kelly

Our eleventh market tour took place on May 5th, a quiet Sunday morning, at The Kitchen Gallery ( with new owner Katrina Kelly. Kelly recently bought the business with husband Matt Kelly, from former owners Stephanie Kessenich and Tom Christensen. Formerly located on Willy Street, The Kitchen Gallery moved downtown to King   Street in 2012. Being near the Saturday morning Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Capitol   Square has helped bring in walk-in traffic. A new Saturday lunchtime attraction features knife sharpening demonstrations by former chef and Siglinda ( owner, Josh McEachen.

Emphasizing high-quality, durable goods that given proper care will last a lifetime and in turn become heirloom pieces, The Kitchen Gallery also tries to source regionally and offer items made with natural materials, such as wooden bowls made in Michigan, jute floor mats, and dish brushes with replaceable heads. Katrina considered enrolling in professional cooking school when she lived in Washington, D.C., but instead chose to focus on cooking for family and friends. She enjoys talking with customers about favorite cookware lines (Mauviel, for stainless steel and copper pans; Staub, for enameled cast iron pots; and Kuhn Rikon, for pressure cookers), or favorite foods (Rancho Gordo dried heirloom beans). Knife buyer Steven Weiss discussed the store’s selection of European and Japanese knives, and pointed out brands, features, and materials one might consider in choosing a knife.

Personable, knowledgeable staff and hand-picked, long-lasting kitchen goods: a perfect match for Madison food lovers.


Brainstorming Session

The revolution is in our kitchens!

We have a famously great restaurant and farmland/markets culture in Madison, and Slow Food celebrates it! But we also want to help home cooks bring it up a notch (and down to earth a notch) in a series of peer-to-peer, DIY-celebrating classes that shares, inspires, and connects-the-dots in a way that only Slow Food can.

It’s all about tradition, celebration, simplicity, and how the simple awareness and responsibility of our food practices brings even more joy and pleasure to our tables. Can you cook? Teach? Organize? Blog? Take Pictures/Videos? Or want to cultivate these talents in yourself and others?

The best ideas come when we all put our ideas on the table, so… please join us for an informal brainstorming session on Tuesday, September 10th @ 6:30pm at Barriques, 961 S. Park Street. RSVP to (If you are interested in getting involved, but can’t attend this meeting, send a note and we will include you in future communiques.)

Social Media Intern Position

Slow Food Madison, a local chapter of the international Slow Food organization, is seeking a social media specialist. This is a volunteer position.

What You’ll Do

Publicity Support

  • Ensure local events are posted to the Slow Food Madison (SFM) calendar, FB, & Twitter
  • Support event producers with tech support on above channels, Eventbrite, etc.
  • Work with other SFM volunteers & board members to make sure SFM & SFUW events are well publicized on Twitter, FB, email newsletter, and the SFM website.
  • Work with Philip on the weekly and monthly email newsletters
  • Be able to provide SFM Board with monthly numbers on things such as likes, shares, followers, retweets, friends

Community Engagement Online

  • The ideal candidate will learn the culture, values, and priorities of Slow Food Madison and will eventually be able to engage the community (along with the leadership and volunteers) on behalf of the organization:
  • Engage (RT, replies, etc) with local artisanal food producers on both FB and Twitter
  • Cultivate good follow-lists and network connections with same
  • Engage with followers of FB and Twitter (replies)
  • Consult the board on ways to further utilize social media to engage with the greater Madison community and broadcast the SFM message
  • Interact with members and community for sharing of event photographs, event idea capture, etc.

How Great It Will Be

The social media intern position will offer the ideal candidate real-world experience in the nuts-n-bolts administration of social media presence and strategy for a small-scale not-for-profit organization with global brand appeal, and local credibility.

Several members of the current leadership team have extensive experience with social media strategy and web/internet culture, and the candidate would be able to learn/work-with them.

Interns will participate in leadership team meetings as desired, can attend Slow Food Madison events, and will have ample opportunity to meet food-related luminaries like farmers, chefs, artisans in and around Madison.

Contact if you are interested.

UMF #10 Istanbul Supermarket

On Sunday April 14th UMF visited Istanbul Supermarket, at 745 S. Gammon Road. It has been open almost exactly a year and is still in the process of expanding.

Hospitality was on view from the moment we arrived, as the owner, Yashar, plied us with mineral water, coffee soda, delicious cookies filled with hazelnut cream and dipped in chocolate. We even got samples size tubes of olive oil hand cream.

The shelves are full of Turkish items ranging from fantastic preserves, to tea and coffee (including a set sold with the traditional enameled pot), to tinned meats, pickled vegetables, and nut studded candy. There are also some Indian and Middle Eastern items mixed in, both on the shelves and in the coolers and freezers.

One of the biggest draws for many of the market’s customers is the halal meat. There is fresh meat, such as lamb and goat, as well as frozen, and items such as a spicy, precooked sausage similar to chorizo, but with a fragrant twist.

Our guide, Oktay, talked about the various ingredients we encountered as we went from aisle to aisle and spoke about all the wonderful dishes his mother would cook for him growing up. The UMF tours will always leave you hungry and ready to try some new ingredients in the kitchen!

Yasher is in the process of getting some new coolers installed and hopes to eventually expand to be able to have a deli area too, where he can serve food and Turkish coffee. That will be a happy day.