After a Mother’s Day Picnic on the beach and then a Food Revolution Community Picnic in the park, I am convinced that the picnic is poised for a comeback. For healthy eating, social gathering and active interactions, a picnic is perfect!
The potluck brings to mind heavy cream-filled casseroles, dense desserts and underrepresented vegetables, whereas a picnic is often full of crunchy vegetables and juicy fruits, creative finger foods and sandwiches. The potluck happens in chairs, food on lap and ends in chairs, drinking beverages and talking. The picnic happens outside, in parks, on sand, at wooden tables on blankets. And they end with frisbee or kite flying, swimming, swinging or searching for buttercups. In a time when we all spend too much time inside and too little time moving, I think the picnic is the perfect! Here are a few healthy advantages of the picnic.
Advantages of a picnic:
1. Special Diets – Throw in the fact that so many people have special dietary needs from allergies to sensitivities to diet preferences like paleo or vegan and the modern get together really does flourish when you bring your own food.
2. Waste-free – Think of all the tinfoil and saran wrap that covers the dishes brought to a potluck. Add in the paper plates and forks, and all the dishes served in disposable containers and you’ve got a lot of trash. Consider the picnic and it’s pack it in and pack it out set-up, you see it is perfectly set up for a waste-free meal. Just ditch the tossable bottles and plastic cutlery for your own re-usable favorites from home! In fact, packing your own cloth napkins and silverware is part of the charm! It does get a little tricky with the plates and cups, but if you use stainless steel thermoses and eat from your reusable food containers, it’s an easy switch!
3. Simple – Elaborate meals and multiple dishes are not well suited for a picnic. Simplicity wins out every time. And simplicity is a perfect opportunity for sharing your favorite foods and techniques with whomever you are sharing your picnic with. As cooking and food skills get lost, it’s important to take opportunities to share what we know. Talking about the sprouts in your pita, hummus, tomato sandwich might seem odd at first, but to someone who has never tried them, you are introducing them to some creative food ideas!
4. Raw Foods – Due to the nature of a picnic that is toted by cooler, many of the food selections are fresh and raw food. Raw foods pack better on a picnic as you eat them right at room temperature.
5. Less equipment – while some picnic dishes (made with mayo or eggs) will need a cold pack to keep them at a safe temperature, these cold packs are easy to find, inexpensive and compact. Potlucks often require electric hot plates, heavy ceramic dishes, spatulas, plates, utensils, etc. A barbeque requires many of the same dining ware and disposable products, plus a grill, charcoal, lighter fluid, etc.
Let’s hear it for the picnic!