Realsociology

A hyperreflexive blog focussing on critical sociology, infographics, Buddhism and extreme early retirement

From Haribo cravings to an anti-neoliberal lesson plan…

Posted by Realsociology on September 7, 2011

Haribo - Damn their delicious, fizzy sweetness - I will have my revenge...

Since I’ve been back at work I promised myself I’d do pithier, shorter posts, instead I just spent the last hour cogitating over this – still I think it’s worth putting out there.. one for the teachers really…

On noting my cravings for sugar over two consecutive days at about 15.00 hours – cravings which I don’t get while I’m on holiday – this depressing thought occurred to me – ‘If I wasn’t in work I wouldn’t want Haribo, and if Haribo wasn’t on sale in the college I wouldn’t buy it’.

What’s depressing about this is that I’m reminded of just how far my unconscious desires are shaped by my environment – I want to eat healthily – I don’t want the ‘sugar rush-then-low’ – I don’t actually want to eat Haribo ever, yet simply being at work makes me want to eat junk, and the presence of junk food at work makes me more likely to buy it – I’ve succumbed two days in a row and the students aren’t even back yet!

Now, the confluence of these three factors (being at work, work making it easy to buy junk, yet my not wanting to eat junk) puts me in a situation of having to resist buying junk food - which is a problem, because I am put in the situation of constantly having to say ‘no’ to my desire to eat Haribo – once a day at about 15.00… Now according to some research I can’t remember the details of (just trust me on this – I’m not a politician) this kind of resistance will eventually wear me down….constantly having to say no to things is bad for one’s mental health, you know (although Buddhist Monks don’t seem to do too badly out of it – but then again Buddhist monastaries don’t having Haribo vending machines).

To make things worse – The Ethical Consumer magazine gave Haribo the worst possible rating for both supply chain management and environmental responsibsility. So, given the harm resisting this evil product does to me and the harm purchsing this evil product does to people and planet, it strikes me that removing the option of buying all Haribo from college – and replacing said Haribo with a healthier and preferably more ethical choice – strikes me as an ethical broader goal for the coming term, but the problem is it’s wildly unpragmatic – My problems are as follows – (assuming I rule out smashing up the vending machine)

  • The canteen at college is run by a profit making company - and income is everything to the college… so there’s barrier 1
  • I actually quite like the canteen staff – and getting them to change might offend them as it implies what they’re doing is unsatisfactory (actually with a bit of sensistivity I think this can be negotiated fairly easily.
  • The college hosts 200 staff and 1900 students – many of whom probably want to eat Haribo – and here is the biggest challenge - if I want to get my own way – what I know to be right – If I wanted to remove the Haribo I would have to mount some kind of education and mobilisation campaign just to get Haribo removed, sort out some clear arguements for its removal and probably suggest some reasonable alternatives…

Now a man alone may well balk at this, giving up in the face of all of this effort for such a small victory. But herein lies the joy of working in education – I can generalise this out, and when we’re focussing on fairtrade and ethical consumption at some point in early 2012 I can turn it into an ‘educational project’ – all I need to do now is think up a few aims and objectives….Making The College Healthy and Fairtrade…or something like that’ll do …  

Then all I need to do is email Jamie, maybe a Buddhist Monk (to remind us what an uncolonised lifeworld is about, and the robes are cool) and, of course, the lovely Stacey Dooley – she could motivate anyone to do just about anything – and Bobs yer uncle, fanny’s yer aunt and Karl’s yer Sociology teacher – I’ve got myself an easy week’s ‘teaching’ – all in the name of helping me overcome my sugar addiction – brought on by my work environment.  

For those of you that think manipulating students in this way is somewhat unethical – obviously it isn’t because -

1. It is in their long term health interests to make if difficult to eat sugary foods

2. They can still get Haribo off campus anyways, even if it gets banned

3. Students can of course choose to mount a campaign to ‘save the junk food vending machines’ (I can imagine this being very popular as an option)

4. Students are already being manipulated by the very existence of machines full of junk, as are the relationships between students and staff – I know of many staff members who use sweets as teaching aids – thus life-world interaction is mediated through the medium of sugar – this isn’t necessarily a good thing ya know!

So in the meantime until this glorious age of the sugar free enlightenment – I’ll just have to rely on my Zen Mind to help me resist my sugar lust amidst the evil Haribo vending machines.

2 Responses to “From Haribo cravings to an anti-neoliberal lesson plan…”

  1.   Nick Says:

    I’ve been faced with the exact same situation in my office in Cologne (there’s a weird national pride thing going on here in Germany with Haribo too – like Marmite in the UK I guess – except instead of waste from the brewing industry its waste from the meat industry I guess (and the Germans love their meat – so what can’t be reconstituted in sausages gets rendered down to gummy bears). Reminding myself of the ingredients is increasingly helping me kick the habit. But it ain’t easy – and supply (availability) is a big part of that for sure. The sweety cupboard in the office, like the vending machine in your canteen, is not so different from the scag dealer on the run-down council estate. Same shit, different wrapper.

  2.   Realsociology Says:

    Hi – so good to hear from you Nick – I think I might get into trouble later in the year with my campaign ideas… then again I’ll probably be too exhausted by February (when we start our development module) to care. And there was me thinking Germany was ecotopia!

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