(photo by Lafoodswap.com/gregory Han)

DOWNTOWN — A growing movement created by foodies for foodies that revolves around trading tasty treats has made its way to Santa Monica.

Pam Leelayuwapan, who has just recently been introduced to the food swap phenomenon, has created the first Santa Monica Food Swap as an extension of her growing love for all things culinary.

“It’s an informal group,” Leelayuwapan said of those who have gravitated to this novel, yet “old timey” concept. “Swap organizers connect over the Internet to share tips on how to make the swaps happen.”

The swaps aim to connect food lovers with like-minded people under the guise of trading one food item for another.

While the origin of food swaps is unclear, there’s an increasing number of people around the Los Angeles area coming together with prized, homemade food items in hand in search of that next great thing to eat.

Leelayuwapan said that food items range from homegrown produce and herbs to baked goods. She said that nothing is out of bounds as long as swappers bring small servings ready to trade.

“It can be anything,” she said, “as long as it tastes good.”

Despite the fact that food is being exchanged, Leelayuwapan said that because money isn’t changing hands health regulations don’t apply.

The swap, planned for Sunday at Salon Vert on Colorado Avenue, has already attracted 25 participants with that list expected to grow a bit before it’s time to trade.

Leelayuwapan, whose connection to food stems from her marketing work with upscale market Whole Foods, said that swaps tend to attract food hobbyists who work by day and cook by night — and weekends. Some are actually burgeoning entrepreneurs who use the events as a sounding board for their varied products.

That’s how Adrienne Poiquinto came to be interested in swapping her wares.

After attending a swap in the San Fernando Valley, she was convinced it would be a good springboard for her new business, Maskipops by Adri. Her star products are dubbed cake pops, small baked balls that are dipped in chocolate or other coatings that she first made in March for a birthday party. They were a hit with her friends leading her to take it more seriously, ultimately creating a business around her newfound passion.

“The first swap was to get exposure for my company,” she said, “but I didn’t think there would be other people promoting their businesses as well.”

She was impressed by the professionalism of the informal event and decided that it was something she would continue to pursue.

“When I heard from Pam that she was doing it in Santa Monica, I wanted to be a part of it.”

Leelayuwapan, who has lived in Santa Monica for seven years, said that Poiquinto’s story is common among the newly initiated.

With the movement gaining traction across SoCal, she can only wish that it continues on that upward trend.

“I hope that the people who come spread the word and our swaps become bigger,” she said. “There would be more food and these personal connections we make will become larger.

“It helps you know your neighbors a little better.”

For more information about food swaps, visit www.santamonicafoodswap.com.


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