No Cash? No Problem. How to Barter for Food


My This for Your That

You used to do it as a kid. You had an innate sense of the relative value of Twinkies and would broker a lunchroom exchange.

In recent years, barter has been making a comeback. This ancient form of trade is alive and well in e-commerce. Combining the DIY ethic with social networks, online barter exchanges are flourishing in the current, shaky economy.

You don’t have to be a bread baker or backyard gardener to get in on the new barter phenomenon. There are restaurants looking to swap meals for the services of writers who can produce their newsletters, and backyard chicken owners who will keep you in fresh eggs if you tutor their kid in math. Here’s how you can get started:

Veggie Trader is a national clearinghouse for backyard gardeners. Swap your bumper crop of tomatoes for some excess basil or homemade pickles. If the plum trees didn’t produce, or you’re just not a gardener, many of of the traders will accept cash. Another barter exchange for gardeners is Neighborhood Fruit (also available as a phone app). It posts backyard bounty from members as well as fruit that is up-for-grab from trees on public land. Hyperlocavore is an update of sharecropping— you swap the use of your yard for a share of the produce grown on it.

Industry journals Barter News and Barter News Weekly both publish lists of industry sources and contacts, classified ads, and plenty of how-to articles.

Craigslist has a bartering section for each city it covers. There’s quite a bit of food swapping going down, especially at this time of year as garden surpluses hit the listings. Closer to the holidays you might find homemade candies and baked goods. Like Craigslist, Food Barter is a free classified ad service, but one that is focused exclusively on food swaps.

Soup Swap is just what it sounds like. The site will help you find an existing swap in your area, and provide guidelines, support, and publicity if you want to host your own.

Barter for beer at London’s Marksman Pub. Currently they are seeking window cleaning for the pub windows, tuning services for the pub piano, a Scrabble game, a bicycle baby seat,  black Sharpie pens, and a set of drill bits. If you have any of those, you’ll drink for free.


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6 Responses to No Cash? No Problem. How to Barter for Food

  1. Thank You for telling me about vegietrader and neighborhoodfruit. Another great way to barter for food is to help out at the gardens. On a broader barter note, we’re building a search engine that lets people search multiple barter sites at once, to help people find trades easier. It’s over at

  2. Monet says:

    Wow! I am so glad that I found this post. I’m sending this to my husband…we are always about the freebies!

  3. great post! I’m always up for free (sort of) food! Theresa

  4. Awesome Post!

    Great resources for those that are looking to barter.

    Here is a summary of what Barter Exchanges are:

  5. Rick says:

    Hmm, this may just save me a lot of money.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention How to Barter for Food | Gigabiting --

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