On chilly days like today I feel especially grateful to our local farmers and food makers. "We're here when it's 107 degrees and when it's 27 degrees" is what one of the farmers at Johnson's Backyard Garden said to me this morning. That pretty much sums it up. I deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication to a sustainable food system that brings local growers to the market each week, no matter the climate or circumstance. The abundance of smiles at the market this morning, even while shivering has me feeling warm with gratitude.
As I've mentioned in the past, there is a fantastic group of soupie ladies that I swap soup with 2-3 times a year. Some combination of the same group of women has been getting together to swap soup, and soup stories since January of 2008. A few years ago, our group transformed into vegetarian soup swappers, not that we're all vegetarian, but the soups for our swaps are. I've participated in a few different types of food swaps, and our soup group is my favorite format, which is why I will move mountains to participate each time it rolls around. Each swapper brings 6 quarts of soup. Everyone draws a number from a hat, and this is the choosing order. We have a 'telling of the soup' period at the beginning where each member tells the ingredients, the history of her soup, anything that is good to know, any mishaps in the kitchen....generally there is quite a bit of laughter during the telling of the soup. Then depending on the number drawn, each group member takes turns going to the table and choosing a soup. If you bring less than 6 quarts, then you're 'out' after how ever many rounds equals the numbers of quarts of soup you brought. If you are an overachiever (ahem) and bring more than 6 quarts, you keep going until you've exhausted your rounds. So if you bring 9 quarts, then you leave with 9 different quarts of soup. As a little extra, we usually bring appetizers to nosh on and drinks to drink while we're swapping. It has a very comfortable, hilarious, sister-vibe going on...
What made this swap different for us than our previous swaps, is that we each donated a quart of our soup right off the bat, pre-swap to our dear friend Amy and her family. Amy's husband (also a dear friend) is having surgery today and will be in recovery for some time. We all new the parameters of what his diet will look like for the near future, and adjusted our soup recipes accordingly. It felt so good to know that at the end of the swap, Amy was leaving with a cooler full of soup to nourish her family in the coming weeks. We had all taken our worry for our dear friend, and channeled into creating this beautiful collection of homemade soups for her family. Knowing that each time she reaches for a quart of soup, she knows that we are here, thinking of them, sending them loving care...well...it's just a beautiful thing.
It got us thinking....what a great way to shift our model just a bit to more directly care for our community. Wouldn't it be wonderful to do something similar and integrate it into a baby shower? This way, a mama would have 12-15 quarts of soup that she could freeze, and call on when she's exhausted, sleep deprived, sick, or just plain overwhelmed. Or what about moving houses? Job loss? Extended illness? There are countless needs that a freezer full of delicious, homemade soup could help ease the burdens of. I'm envisioning having a stand alone freezer some day, that we could all throw a quart in at each swap...and when these major life events come up, we can draw on the soup bank...knowing that we're all carrying one another, one quart of soup at a time. <3