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Food Swap

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like living in the good old days when communal living was a part of daily life?


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There was surely a time when neighbours farmed and raised animals together, shared their communal work load, cared for each other’s children as their own and prepared food in large quantities and even ate together. Iin this day and time, farming and raising animals is not a possibility in Singapore nor is the hard work that goes with it a choice that one would like to make, but definitely one hopes to spend less time wondering what to cook for dinner, or having to take fewer trips to the nearby hawker centres that often end up with the same-old choices, day after day, week after week.


As much as we all love eating out, most of us can neither afford to go to restaurants on a daily basis, nor would we want to miss out on the private, comfortable family time that sharing meals at home allows. In fact, recent research suggests that home cooked meals are often more nutritious and absorbed better by the body because they are made with those special, secret ingredients we call ‘love’ and ‘care’.


What if we could plan, shop for and prepare for only one large, delicious and nutritious meal a week and give the stove the rest of the week off?  What if the other four days of the working week we could come home to other home-made, wonderful, aromatic, maybe even exotic meals, magically delivered right to our door step at no additional cost? Wouldn’t that be the best of all worlds? This is every busy Singaporean’s fantasy.


Food swap can help create a more closely-knit neighbourhood in which everyone knows each other better.


So, dream no more: let’s create our very own “food swap” circles right in our neighbourhoods! All we have to do is get some of our neighbours together and see who might also be interested in working less, saving money by buying in bulk and getting more for our hard earned cash. 


Here is how food swap works:

  1. Write down your proposal in five short sentences or less. Describe a Food Swap Circle (FSC) so you don’t get tongue tied or forget everything you want to say to your prospective FSC participants. Go door-to-door if you don’t already know your neighbours, introduce yourself and your idea for the FSC.
  2. Set up a time and place for a short meeting where ideas are discussed and decisions made with everyone who is interested and invite them to the meeting.
  3. At the meeting, make sure everyone who wants to do it is aware of dietary issues and whether they are happy and willing to accommodate each others’ needs.
  4. Discuss and decide on how much each participant should plan to contribute and what each expects in terms of quantity and form.
  5. Plan an experimental week to see how each participating family will feel about the arrangements and plan the next meeting to decide on whether everyone wants to continue with the FSC or opt out.
  6. Meet regularly, perhaps monthly, thereafter so calendars are always matched and hassles are reduced to a minimum. Alternatively, you could create an online chat group for sharing ideas and making last minute adjustments.


Keep in mind that a successful Food Swap Circle needs to be slowly and gradually developed. Don’t plan anything long term right away. Try it for a week and if things go well, see if others want to continue further. If you can get the whole neighbourhood interested, people could form several weekly or monthly circles where one can drop in or out certain weeks, and gradually pick and choose those neighbours that fit your tastes and schedules best. 


In the meantime, you can help create a more closely-knit neighbourhood in which everyone knows each other better. We could all use more time and money, meals cooked with love and care, and friendlier neighbours. So what are you waiting for? Let’s swap now!

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