The Hungry World of the Working Class
Photo: Peter Snow
By Erik Schulte
I grew up in a working class family, and at an early age my parents instilled in me two core values: work hard and spend all other possible time outside playing. My Dad, a landscape contractor, and my Mom, a mail carrier, would work eight plus hours everyday, pick my sister and I up, and go to the local public courts to play tennis for an hour or so. After we’d head home, make dinner, and doze off to sleep, ritualistically repeating the process the next day. On the weekends my Dad would swap the shovels and picks for surf boards and wetsuits, wake me before dawn, and make sure we were in the water surfing by the time the sun came up. This was the life I assumed to be the American norm, and had figured, for most of my childhood, that all the athletes I admiringly gazed at in the surf magazines worked for 40 hours a week before they went out to get their picture taken for the glossy page. When I realized that was not the case, their stature in the hierarchy of my pre-teen world of admired people took a major blow. “You mean they don't work construction?” I thought. In those days I had been determined, ignoring my parent’s advice, that I too would grow up to be a landscape contractor, working my way to an active lifestyle just like my parents.
Photo: Mama Schulte
Twenty years later, I follow as closely as I can, to my parent’s lead. I never became a landscape contractor, and the beach and ocean have been replaced by mountains and snow. Nonetheless, the alarm still goes off before the sun comes up, and although the fatigue of working a 40 hour week lingers in my legs, hours spent moving efficiently in the mountains hold priority over a lazy weekend on the couch. This style, as I’ve come to understand, comes with its challenges, and at the top of the list is a constant, ever present hunger, or more often “hanger”. I have this innate and constant fear that I will leave for work or go somewhere without food, loose it, and become grumpy and hungry and have nothing to eat.
This happens more than I would like to admit, resulting in a complete bodily takeover by the urges of my stomach. All logic and nutritional knowledge flies out the window, leaving the impulse to eat what ever is most readily available and quickly consumed. Pizza, burrito, pie, butter; everything is fair game as long as it will appease my frantic stomach.
Over the years I have come to realize the importance of keeping good options within arms reach at all time, thus readily giving an offering to the almighty hunger with something that I wont regret later. This holds importance, both, for my overall health, as well as my ability to continue my tireless pursuit of adventure in the mountains on top of working a full time job. In the past I have solved this problem by constantly gorging on peanut butter. I’d carry a large jar of it at all times, eagerly eating spoonfuls of it through out the day. Although this has done the trick, it is not necessarily the perfect solution. It is incredibly bulky, messy, and lets not mention the odd looks exchanged as I frantically shovel spoonfuls of it into my mouth at the trailhead or at work. I desperately wanted something more efficient and easier to carry, but I I wasn’t willing to give up my peanut butter addiction.
I soon found that the GFB PB & J Bites and Peanut Butter Bars did just the trick. These hardy and delicious snacks easily keep me from binging on pizza and donuts while out and about, and are so deliciously peanut buttery that I still don't have to come to grips with my problematic relationship with peanut butter.
The bars fit in my pocket, pack or commuting bag, and the Bites pack such a nutritionally rich punch of calories that just popping a couple here and there throughout the day makes for a constant and balanced caloric intake whether I am spending hours driving a fork lift or skinning up a ridge line for an early morning backcountry ski tour.
As I follow in the footsteps of my parents, I realize now, it is a much more arduous task than they made it seem. I am always on the move, balancing work life with mountain life, and somewhere in the back of my mind is the constant concern of whether I will have enough food. With the GFB snacks at hand, I am able to continue to live a life my working class heroes would be proud of, committing to a life of hard work both in and out of the “nine to five”.