Minneapolis Food Swappers suspend swaps after government agencies express concerns

The Minneapolis Food Swappers, a group committed to sharing homemade and foraged foods in what one of their organizers had referred to as an "alternative food economy," has been contacted with concerns by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture. The departments question the types of  food the swappers are sharing and whether or not a swap constitutes a sale. At the swap we attended, food items included fermented pickles, kombucha, and backyard-collected eggs, items that could, if not properly prepared, cause food-borne illnesses.

What comes next for the swappers?

To avoid any negative repercussions from the state, swap organizers have called off the scheduled December 11 swap while they regroup.  As Christensen wrote on the group's blog, "We are currently working with our contact at the Department of Health and other legal sources to obtain as much information as possible about current laws and regulations so we are fully informed, and get the specifics in regards to which statutes they feel are in violation. We plan to explore new formats for our food swaps

that will allow us to exchange our lovingly prepared food items, grow our community, and maintain a strong grassroots spirit, all while keeping us safe from further investigation."

It sounds as though the swappers haven't given up hope. The concern from a health perspective is that all food items are prepared in unregulated home environments by untrained cooks.  There is no way to ensure that the foods have been prepared in a way that will prevent people from getting sick.  However, to date there have been no known illnesses attributed to a swapping event, and many of the food preservation methods have been practiced for generations.

To read more about the swap we attended, click here.

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