Het Cacao Monster is one small step towards correcting our unfair food system, by making the main elements of this broken system visible and interactive for the average consumer. We need to be able to see the negative impacts on the other end of our food choices. We have the freedom and possibility to eat anything, but we only get in touch with the processed, mixed, roasted, packaged versions of raw commodities such as cocoa, coffee or tea. We should be able to see where certain ingredients come from; especially the ones which we cannot grow in the Netherlands, and which drive poverty and environmental degradation far away from home. It’s normal for children in any country to help on farms but not in ways that harm their development or can cause injuries. Carrying heavy loads is forbidden, but wide-spread. Up to 90% of children in the main cocoa producing countries are involved in hazardous work.
Specifications such as country of origin or other label claims on food packaging, fail to even make us give a second thought to what truly is the story behind a simple chocolate. We can't deny that we love consuming it, and we also can't deny that we are partly responsible for our ignorance. If our Dutch farmers would grow the cocoa, we wouldn't accept their children not going to school and doing dangerous farm work, or cutting down the Veluwe and leaking chemical fertilizer into the Rhine. The big distance between us and these negative effects should not deny our roles in eliminating them. It is us who consume a relatively big share of the total harvest.
THE ART INSTALLATION
Built on an aanhanger, Het Cacao Monster shows the road travelled by cocoa from the farm to the consumer. It does so by breaking down where the money we spend on chocolate is lost. The installation asks ‘why is the money we spend on chocolate not reducing the social and environmental impacts that are still wide-spread in origin countries’. The impacts are represented on an authentic, miniature farm. The answers are distributed in the other parts of the installation: small and big traders (truck and shipping container), manufacturers (small factory), market speculators (stock exchange screens) and retailers (shopping cart).
Bags of real cocoa shells, provided by Chocolate Makers, a small chocolate brand with its only factory in Amsterdam, will be available for children to experience firsthand what is considered child labor.
People stopping by will have a chance to write down their own input. The question for them will be: what powers should a potential superhero have, to defeat this Monster? In other words what should a new and truly sustainable food system look like? Stefan will take all the answers into account with his social enterprise which is working in guiding consumers’ money away from the Het Cacao Monster, towards the creation of positive impacts.