Somewhere in my imagination there exists a fantasy world where I can make truly filling and delicious meals everyday of the week for absolutely zero cost (I’m cheap, what can I say? I’m a New Englander, born and bred, and cheapness runs through our veins here).
And the great news is this world actually exists! Like many towns around the U.S., Mount Shasta, CA, is home to the Trader’s Co-op, where one can find anything and everything needed to garner free meals and services.
Members of the Co-op meet once a month, bringing homemade goods or services, which can range from home grown tomatoes to home crafted earrings or even fiddle lessons. The system relies on the basic principles of swapping, as any good trading system would. Participants add their contributions to the Co-op through lists titled “services provided” or “items for sale or trade.” To find others to trade with, they look through the “services desired” list, or my personal favorite, the “free” list.
The concept is not only wonderful for its bartering system, but also for the worth it attributes to the skills of the individual co-op members. Once baking a mean banana bread becomes a valued skill, the community is able to open up to a more sustainable lifestyle and becomes less vulnerable to energy, climate, or economic shocks.
Sounds like a pretty good deal that we can all get behind. Have you recently joined a trading co-op?
(Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture)