Are you feeling picnickety?

It’s time to scratch that itch. Picnics have a long history and eating outdoors is plain fun, especially for those of us living in cold climes.

For pure unadulterated pleasure, there’s nothing more romantic than a blanket and picnic a'deux on a blissfully perfect day.

“A jug of (honest) Wine, a Loaf of (sourdough) Bread (and some superb cheeses)…Paradise Enow!”

– A Stew or a Story. Napa and Sonoma: The Best of Both Worlds. M.F.K.Fisher

You’ve got your ‘thou’ and book of verse (more likely cellphones) and you’ve located an off-the-beaten path cozy dell. Let’s take a look at what’s in your hamper. Did you hit your local bakery for artisan bread that’s fresh out of the oven? Whether herbal, cheesy, rustic whole wheat, country style or sourdough, tearing off a hunk of crusty, chewy bread together is satisfyingly sexy. Of course you didn’t forget the libation. Maybe you were inspired to tinker with tradition and tuck some organic beers or wine in the hamper. You may have even daringly purchased a screw-top bottle of wine or one with a glass cork and, of course you remembered the thermos filled with ice. Need more than bread for sustenance? Picnic food can be lethal artery-clogging nourishment. For a healthy hamper, include anything on a skewer that’s easy to eat like grilled chicken, fruits, vegetables and hard cheese. Add some raw designer veggies, olives, nuts and, of course, aphrodisiacal chocolate. Finger foods fuel the libido and spark passion. Nothing is less romantic and spoils the mood faster than messy food, so keep it simple.

From a picnic for two, take some inspiration from the opposite extreme – a field picnic for many at a park, in a field, at a farm or in a vineyard. You don’t have to throw one, just attend one. You meet the people who grow, prepare and enjoy the food, all on the land that supports the food.

Picnics can celebrate a special occasion or nothing at all anywhere like camping cookouts over a campfire or upscale glamping. Once the BBQ grill’s rolled out and grilling tools are dusted off, where better to picnic than in your own backyard. It’s real world time for old school grillers so fire-up a greener grill for your cook-out. If you are a big-time grilling novice, check-out this cheat-sheet infographic to lower your grilling angst.

Are you a traditionalist stuck in burgers and hotdogs beyond-boring mode? Do you cringe when hearing the word healthy? With a little thoughtful shopping, it’s possible to get out of that dull and toxic rut, re-tune your taste buds and educate your palate. Be a locavore and buy local organic produce, ethically-raised chicken and grass-fed beef, pork, lamb and safe, sustainable fish for fish lovers. And, it’s not a picnic without quaffing a cold brew. Chug a sustainably produced organic beer. Patronize your local boutique vintners, sustainable wineries and biodynamic vintners. More organic wines than ever are now available and fantastically flavorful. Take it all a step further and use compostable or recyclable plates, utensils and napkins. Don’t forget reusable packaging even for your picnic baskets. Set up a simple recycling station for after picnic cleanup.

For kids and young-at-heart kids, nothing beats making your own S’Mores. Better yet try these ideas for gourmet S’Mores! Take a look at these good ideas for throwing a teenage backyard party. Parents should keep in mind, as role models for their kids, it’s important to promote nutrition and other healthy behaviors in the home. That includes picnics. This is the game changer in the health of our kids. They’re our future and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they live fulfilling and healthy lives. That includes a revamp of your summertime picnics and anywhere barbecues.

A version of this article also posted on July 31, 2012, in Baby Boomer Interests, by Bette Boomer

Please follow me on my personal Twitter and website: www.betteboomer.com

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