6 Online Services Making Food More Shareable

I love summer. Probably more than the average 30-something. Longer days and warmer nights? Can't get enough. Sweltering, inescapable heat? Bring it on. Even though it's long past the days when summer weather meant a three-month vacation from school work, there's just something about the extra sunshine that puts a spring in my step.

The answer might have something to do with all the luscious fresh food that's available during the summer season. Farmers' markets explode with locally grown greens, tomatoes, cherries, and best of all, peaches from Colorado's western slope (sorry, Georgia). 

If you're a gardener, summer is a time of abundance, when Mother Earth does some of her most amazing work. Although it's good to line our coffers for the winter, local growing and harvesting presents a unique opportunity to build community around something we all know and love: good food.

Thanks to the growth of the collaborative consumption movement, it's easier than ever to share your food with others who value fresh, local edibles. Sharing food can mean lots of different things, from sharing in the work of growing or harvesting, to the preparation and consumption. Not only can sharing food help fill the bellies of those who might otherwise go hungry, it also nourishes our emotional need for joy and cameraderie. You'd be amazed how easy it is to reconnect with friends and neighbors when you're all enjoying delicious food together!

Below are six websites that make it easy to grow community around food. Let us know if there are any we missed!

1. GrubWithUs

Grubwithus is a social dining network that facilitates friendships by bringing awesome people together over delicious food. It's perfect for people who are new in town, or those that want to expand their social or culinary horizons. Operating very much like an online dinner party, you simply browse the site for a meal you'd like to attend, and then reserve your seat. 

2. MealShare

Vegetable explosion? Big week at the CSA? If you want to have a bunch of people over to share in the bounty, but don't have the time to track everyone down, Mealshare is for you. This free website makes it easy for existing groups of friends to plan a shared meal. Simply log-in, input menu, place, and time details, and hit sumbit. After you supply the basic information, each friend in your MealShare circle will get an email letting them know all the details. Any open spots for your meal are available on a first-come, first-serve basis to the friends in your circle.


Image via OakleyOriginals/Flickr

3. Lourish

Do you have a bumper crop of cucumbers but really crave some fresh watermelon? Lourish is a UK site that makes it easy to swap fruit, veg, seeds, eggs, jam, chutney and more, with others in your region. By signing up on Lourish (or a similar site called Foodshare, which connects growers to local charities) Brits can create a home grown, hyperlocal fresh food network with the click of a mouse. Then, any time your recipe (or stomach) calls for something that isn't growing in your own garden, you can reach out to your network and arrange a swap. If you're in the U.S. check out the Food Swap Network.

4. EatWithMe

Eatwithme.net is a social networking site where you can plan cool food events, post them online and invite other foodies to join in. It’s a creative space for fashioning your own pop-up kitchen, cooking class or restaurant adventure. There's no pressure to cook, since it's really more about getting together with people and enjoying food together. You can host an event, or browse the site until you find a getogether that sounds delicious. Since it's an international website, this is an especially great tool to use when traveling. 

5. Colunching

Online friends are great, but no amount of chatting or Skype calls can substitute for the experience of meeting a new friend in person. That need for face-to-face connection is what inspired the creation of Colunching in Paris, France. Colunching, which has now spread all over the globe, is all about communal dining- a mix of sharing unexpected encounters around a great meal. Kind of like the Meetup for informal meals, all you do is sign up for a meal, and then see where the food (and friendship) takes you.

6. Hyperlocavore

Sharing a meal with strangers is all well and good, but what if you're dying to get your hands in the dirt? Hyperlocavore is an online yard-sharing community that makes it easy to find dirt, tools, seeds, space, and potlucks, that are ripe for the plucking. This free service makes it easy to search for others in your region looking for help growing, maintaining, or eating fresh fruits and vegetables. If you've got a garden, or are simply looking for a place to lend a hand, this is the community for you.

Be sure to check out these other Shareable posts about how to grow and share food in your community!

Eating Rich, Living Poor: DIY Food By Necessity

Policies For A Shareable City #12: Food Sharing

Peer-To-Peer Food Growing Takes Root

How To Share A Vegetable Garden

Click here for lots more...

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